Monday, October 6, 2008

Coked Up And Eating Vadais

Whilst browsing through Kottu this post by The Whackster caught my eye. Ostensibly it was about food, Sri Lankan food, so it covered two of my specific areas of interest. I read it. I'm predictable like that.

Mr Whackster talks about the increasing price of vadais over the years. It's not one of my areas of expertise, not that I actually have any, but the price of vadais certainly isn't one. Simply because I don't live in Sri Lanka and I don't actually like the little lentil based chaps. I've gazed with curiosity at the prawn ones at the Galle Face for years, up until the "refurb". They always look nice with the three prawns lying there as if their sole reason for living was to be fried, placed in that position and eaten on a Sunday evening.

But I've never bought or even tried one of these isso vadais. Love prawns, not so keen on vadais, vut too doo?

Mr Whackster's main point is that the price of vadais could be a good thing to use as a measure of inflation and the cost of living in Sri Lanka. This sounds like a fine idea to me and his plan to get the Central Bank involved with a "vadai index" is one of the finest economic ideas I've ever heard.

In recent years, as a person who gets to visit the odd country or two, I've actually found my own benchmark that I use to measure the cost of living in a country, and I say this with total seriousness and sincerity; the price of a Coca Cola. Not the price of a Coke in a five star hotel in Colombo, where it will be about four times the "street" price, nor the price a fat American tourist wearing a British policeman's hat will pay for a can from a stall outside the Ritz, which would be considered a rip off even by the F+B manager of a five star hotel in Colombo. I'm talking about the real "street" price.

The rate you'll pay for a can, or bottle, from a roadside stall in Sri Lanka or from a newsagent or corner shop in London.

It's got to be Fat Coke too, not the Diet option and not Coke Zero. These variants don't yet qualify as basic food items in enough countries. In Sri Lanka, I believe, most of the Diet Coke is imported, usually from Singapore. I think it's not actually bottled and produced in Lanka yet, therefore is relatively high in price. It's only real Coke that's bottled in most countries.

Coke sits in the same level in the hierarchy of food and drink in each country as well. I have looked at other dietary items but they've all been rejected. Pepsi because it tastes like Pepsi and will always be the poor relative to me. Big Macs, KFC, Pizza Hut and other food items have, after extensive field trials, been rejected too. They sit in different positions in the hierarchy in different countries.

For example, here in London the price of a Big Mac is next to nothing and always has been. Yet last time I went to McDonalds in Lanka I was amazed that it was relatively expensive. Things may well have changed now but at the time a meal there cost a similar amount as a meal in a half decent restaurant. The bun tasted different too, as if there was more air in it.

KFC is different in every country I've sampled it in. The menus vary, you lot can have that KFC buriyani, the thought of which makes me salivate, we just get chicken, chips and, if it's after eleven o'clock at night, a high chance of being stabbed or beaten up. In that KFC in Majestic City the staff treat the customers with about as much respect as the customers here have to treat the staff if they want to get served. Yes, it's all different.

I'm sure other people use things for their own benchmarks. What are yours?

The vadai index would never work in the UK as a measure though. Prices here are artificially high as they're all bought by my Dad.

Good weekend all.



TheWhacksteR said...

Hey RD, thanks for reading my post. I am currently looking for support to lobby the CB so ur very welcome aboard! And i think the World Bank needs to hear about the 'coke index'. sounds to me like a great measure of global economic parity.

DaphnetheGreat said...

You have never had a prawn Vadai ?? Oh my goodness how terrible ! You have to try one - with the hot tangy chilli sauce.. its the bomb ! The trick is to stuff your face like no-ones looking before the veggies fall off..