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   This is morning, the wife was saying: "Today is budget day... (July 22, 1996)

This is morning, the wife was saying: "Today is budget day, reporters will be going around the city interviewing housewives to find out what they think of the budget. Why don't you brief me."

"Don't worry," I said, "nobody will come to interview you. Reporters go to typical housewives at Girgaum and Chembur."

"How can you be so definite," the wife said. "At least one of the reporters may want to interview me. What is the harm in being prepared."

"You are only wasting you time, and my time along with yours. I am telling you to reporter will bother to interview you. First of all, you are not a typical housewife, you have never stood in a ration queue."

"Ration queues have got nothing to do with expressing views on the budget," the wife said. "Has Mrs. Chidambaram ever stood in a ration queue! I am sure her husband consults her about the budget."

"Look, I don't mind briefing you or the budget," I said. The only reason I rather not do so is because, after all the trouble you take, no reporter may ask your views and you may be disappointed."

"Never mind my disappointment," the wife said. "Just tell me, should I comment on a rise in ceiling on income-tax exemption or the need to reschedule the capital gains tax to subsidise agricultural products?"

"You have been reading Mahindras ‘Business Standard'," I said. "Forget all that, housewives are not supposed to comment on such things. They are required to talk only about kerosene and masoor dal prices."

"You talk about masoor dal," the wife said. "I am not going to look like a typical housewife moaning that masoor dal will cost more."

"If you are not going to be like a typical housewife, then no newspaper is going to pubish your reactions," I said. "That is if some newspaper does ask you your reactions."

"Assuming somebody does, what do I say?"

"I cannot exactly brief you without seeing the budget myself," I said. "However, you can safely say that it is a good budget, but if could have been better."

"That is what your editors wrige, neither here not there," the wife said. "If my opinion is required by the world, I will give a proper, constructive opinion."

"There are people to do that," I said. "Presicents of Indian Merchant's Chamber, Bombay Chamber of Commerice, Mr. Ramu Deora, you have to talk about vegetable prices. Remember, you are representing housewives. If you like, you can also say that the finance minister has done nothing to reduce the price of children's school books. That would be an important subject."

"I can make a statement on the educations policy?" the wife said.

"No, not exactly," I said. "But, never mind, nobody is coming interviewing housewives."

So, when I reached the office, the chief said: "After the finance minister announces the budget, you interview some housewives and get their reaction."

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