The Return of Returns

It was a long, long time after which my friend Swami and I met my broker friend Jigneshbhai over coffee yesterday. Like always, it was Swami who started while Jigneshbhai and I were sipping our coffee.

“This Modi sarkar is useless. It only talks. Nothing has changed on the ground.”

I looked at Jigneshbhai to check if he will say something. But my broker friend kept sipping his coffee. Again like always, Swami continued.

“He just keeps visiting countries around the world, and announcing schemes. And his party keeps bungling up over useless things here.”

Again I looked at Jigneshbhai. But my broker friend continued sipping on his coffee. Nothing provokes Swami more than no response from Jigneshbhai. So he continued even louder this time.

“Even your markets have stopped going anywhere since the last six months. This government stopped working for business also it seems!”

Jigneshbhai looked up from his coffee and smiled at Swami and I. Finally he was ready to say something.

“You are so unhappy with Modi and his government. So are you going to return something in protest?” he asked.

If Jigneshbhai’s silence was not provocation enough, this question was enough to get Swami started.

“You seem to be still supporting him. He promised roads, infrastructure, development. He promised governance. I don’t see any of that. Why shouldn’t I protest?” Swami argued, with full vigour.

Jigneshbhai went back to sipping his coffee non-chalantly again.

And Swami continued.

“On top of that, his party and his people keep talking up cultural stuff. Why shouldn’t I protest?”

Swami seemed to be in a bad mood today. I hadn’t seen him this way for a long time. Earlier when we used to meet when the UPA govt was in power, almost every coffee meeting started with Swami’s complaints. For the last year or two, Swami was generally in a good mood when we met. So today seemed like he had got back to his old ways.

The tide seemed to have turned. My broker friend probably also observed the change in his mood.

So after a barrage of ‘why shouldn’t I protest’ questions from Swami, Jigneshbhai finally spoke up – little and with a subtle smile, as always.

“Why not? A couple of years back you were exuberant without reason, and now you are despairing without reason. So you should protest. But what are you going to return, as a mark of protest?” Jigneshbhai asked sarcastically.

So here were two of my friends – one arguing vehemently and the other making brief laconic comments.

So Swami apparently took note of Jigneshbhai’s sarcasm. He finally said in dismay. “I had so much expectation from Modi. But his govt has left me with nothing to return.” And with a twinkle in his eye, he continued, “Else I would have joined the protests and returned something.”

Just then, the wealthy man in the sprawling bungalow, who had been hearing our conversation for a while from the adjoining table, came up to us.

As we were getting ready to leave after finishing our coffee, he left us wondering when he said, “May you should return the 50% plus returns that the markets gave you over the past couple of years, before they go away. The return of returns will be a good mark of protest.”

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