The Big-O Crisis

Pic courtesy:Ifood.TV
The Big-O crisis has sent the Indian junta into a tizzy. The hottest topic of debate, our netas are raising hell over it (Wireless Radia can heave a sigh of relief). CNN-IBN reporters have shifted bag and baggage to mandis, not for their new-found love for subzi but to clandestinely film seedy hoarders spilling the beans. The Onion is now breaking news. It has made Sharad Pawarless.

The great Indian leveler, the most egalitarian of vegetables – the onion is sought after by Aam Admi to Ambani . Every palate craves for it, unless you have renounced the world. Our kitchens whisper softly into its pink glistening skin …you complete me. The poor peasants’ meal is incomplete without a bite of the pungent bulb. It adds chutzpah, that crunchy zing to our meal. Of course the wicked veggie it is, it is layered to bring out the tears, but do we mind?? Naah.

But these days the modest onion is bringing tears of the other kind – tears of frustration. The naughty little bulbs have been playing truant and prefer the cool comfort of dark-dank godowns. This has sent prices spiraling skywards and has raised a stink so strong that the government had to wake up and smell the onions (coffee is so passé). They have been tardy as usual, while the onion mafia is laughing all the way to the bank. Traders have been hoarding stockpiles of the smelly bulbs while the government is pottering around with ad hoc fixes. Thanks to an official missive, onions will cease to be globetrotting veggies and will be homebound till mid-January.

The onion deprivation has done a lot of good for our neighborly ties. For once we are looking forward to something from Pakistan – 40 truckloads of the humble bulbs all the way from Sindh to ease our Big-O predicament.

Inflation-hit onions have also been taking on the role of the great Indian unifier with aplomb. For once there is no north-south divide. If dosa makers down south have bid adieu to the bulb, then Mughlai chefs up north are using bread crumbs to thicken their gravies. And it has given way to some unique dishes like the Mutton no pyaaza.

Since our breaths are far from oniony, the sparkle is back into our conversations. We welcome this temporary reprieve from holding our breaths and not choking on our own words. Breath freshener companies are far from amused though about this new development and are now banking on garlic to come to their rescue. Another not-so-amused person is Graham Onion, the English cricketer. TV presenter Gaurav Kapur has been insisting the cricketer choose his reserve price per kilo for the IPL auctions.

But the elusive onions are rediscovering themselves in various avatars.

    Pic courtesy - Reuters
  • As the new ice breaker. Alone and getting bored at a party? Just say the magic words where are the onions at the buffet table and Whoa! you will have hordes clamoring to voice their opinions and don’t forget to pitch in with the choicest of gaalis for the government to keep the passions ignited.

  • As a sought after accessory. Many BJP workers are using them as a fashion statement and are now wearing them as garlands. Behen Mayawati has also been making surreptitious enquiries about 3-ton onion garlands (who wants currency notes anyway).

  • Sheila, the not so jawaan edition, has squarely laid the blame on the media for fuelling the onion price scare. But just when our kitchen austerity has nearly succeeded in bringing onion prices down to Earth, the ubiquitous tomato is demanding its share of limelight. The tomato is on its way to becoming the new onion.

So if you still haven’t decided on a Christmas present yet – ditch that box of chocolates. A kilo of onions snuggling on a bed of tomatoes, wrapped in red and gold, is priceless!


  1. brilliant!

    haha...onions as christmas gift!!

  2. this is brilliant!
    veteran purba!
    luring title and seductive introduction to a laugh a line climax!


  3. :D The title is sooo misleading.

    Well, I'm making a trip to the local chaat wala to see how he's holding up, and if business has been affected yet :D

  4. chakk te fatteeee :)

    but on other note i dont mind the prices of onion gone up.. i have been paying more than that for years now . it costs more than that here for me to buy onions :)


    he he hehe

  5. LOL....and I was trying to write a piece on Onion yesterday...wrote a couple paras and then sent the file to trash bin....not very good you see.
    This one is good.
    P.S. You read the tweetables too on the Mail Today...ha

  6. A perfect political satire...
    Loved reading it!
    U r soo good with words as always...
    christmas present was so lolable :)

  7. A perfect political satire...
    Loved reading it!
    U r soo good with words as always...
    christmas present was so lolable :)

  8. onionlobalisticfantasticotic thoughts .can u actually start purbtimes then i can ditch toi and ht.going by the last line...a kilo oh no half a kilo of onionpresent on your way.enjoyed this article with my xmas chai.

  9. my friend says in Qatar, the price is just indian equivalent of Rs 23 per kg. I am resigning and starting my business on monday! :)Smuggle onions from middle east...

  10. the onion crisis is like onion tears , not real but look like real

  11. Bhawna...O you like it ;)

    Always happy...stinky but welcome!

    Akshay...Spreading Christmas cheer through onions?

  12. magiceye...Fooled you haan?

    mazingout..Puhleez don't mention chaat, makes my mouth water!

    Bikramjeet, you pay in POUNDS!!!

  13. Snow Leopard...Umm I didn't read it in Mail Today :) Waiting for your G Sock chronicles.

    Mani...Good idea naa and thanks a ton?


    RK...Christmas is for mulled wine, not chai!

  14. Harish...Onion Smuggler?? Whoa that's some idea!!

    Arvind...That's really well put.

  15. Haha this surely rates as one of your best work. And I havent yet renounced the world. Am still munching them on, with tears in my eyes!

  16. lol.. ya thats ryt.. onions are getting costlier and costlier every day... i guess ab 3 idiots wale paneer or bhindi ke saath iski bhi adv karenge.

  17. Hahahahahahaha !!
    Purba di, you are such an amazing writer, I cannot help but repeat this again and again!
    For a change, this time the onion has made go from "O" to "E" :-D

  18. Hi,

    Wish you and your family A Merry Christmas!
    hmm , thats the pity Onion price hike has made the news channels Sabji Mandi reporter , all what we can see and hear of is Onions.
    Today Morning I went to Mother Dairy there as well ppl were talking about Onions only.

    Though its a concern , but why too much policing on this by the Opposition front ..and media was not really called for, if these all day long exercise do bring back all price to reasonable low rate than that's always welcome , but this fluctuation is the Mkt is really reflect the failure on Govt part , there is no backup plan in place.

    With the rise in petrol and diesel price Prices will further go up , thats a complete mess , what about the poor ..for them its like ...hell right next..

    Nice post :)

  19. 'Aansoo bhari hai yeh jeevan ki rahen'

  20. [email protected] : not so fortunate to sip wine as you have suggested early x mas morning but definetly enjoyed going through purba's thoughts with my chai. m ...lovin it....ha ha ....lets have one spicy one for new years eve too...

  21. issue placed very amicably,
    seeing so many onions spoiled in garlanding,very pathetic.

  22. To-Mota or our beloved tomato is going to get more healthy in coming times, not owing to better production techniques, but owing to the fat price tag on each.

    And what to say of onion, that you have already elaborated.
    I am wondering that if this trend continues, and eggs also head for sky scraper prices, what would the audience throw when its world cup?

    Blasphemous Aesthete

  23. yes got to pay in pounds and yesterday ONE piece of cauliflower was 2pounds and 39 pence :)



  24. This is clearly leading us into hyperinflation stage, unless goverment intervines.

    Earlier petrol and gold was inflation indicators, not anymore now. Essential commodities are alsoinflation indicators now. Along with Onion, tomoto and garlic has also increased which means the rest can follow.

  25. Who knew onion had such power (or Pawar, as you said!) :D

    Amazing article, Purba. Well said! Loved the humour and the sarcasm :)

  26. Aditya...Hehe...muchos thanks:)

    Deepika...Golmaal hai bhai sab Golmal hai

    RK...Waiting for inspiration to strike.

    Pramod...It's better than a plain ole boring poly bag :)

  27. Enchanta...Thanks sweetheart...will be reading your short story soon(the weekend has be so hectic)

    Vivek...Yupp the hike in petrol prices will only make things worse and festive wishes to you as well.

    SR....Tears of bewilderment.

  28. Bikramjeet...Aww

    Guha Rajan...Ohh will be reading your take on hyper-inflation soon.

    Vinitha...Pawar corrupts :P

  29. That was one naughty title...You have a wonderful way with words. So whether its onions or garlic you make appetizing.

  30. ha ha...utterly onionly howlarious! Superb!

  31. Mutton no pyaaza! :D

    Not-so-jawan Sheila :D

    Our mess hasn't yet cut down on onions. So virtually insulated from the crisis!

  32. Agri ministry should be renamed BVCI. Board of Vegetable Control of India. That way we can bring our Pawarji to be more attentive to our agri needs ;)

  33. Alka...Misleading haan? Someday maybe someday I might just write about the real thing.


    Mangoman...Now it's its tomatoes...then it's petrol....its a never ending story

  34. I read somewhere tat garlic is Rs.560 per much for garlic coming to the rescue :)

  35. Lakshmi...That man is too busy playing power games!

    Ana_treek...Might as well turn to Jainism.

  36. Tomatoes are on the roll too;)

  37. Do you know this whole onion price war was a media strategy? They realized with falling TRPs that aam admi has stopped watching their news channel so they picked up on Onions that are part of almost every Indian family’s meal. It worked!

  38. Loved the ending...don't know about other places but strangely veggies which are not even distantly related to onions are also having a significant hike at my place. Blame everything on the onion I guess...

  39. Raksha...Yupp and making us see red.

    Delhizen....Possible, Sheila Dixit has been saying the same. But the Onion prices did go up.

    Arpana...Thank you :)

    The Analyst...Look who's here and after such a long time :)
    All veggie prices are shooting up.

  40. It's really a super duper article.

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