Diwali was coming up, and everyone at GPS was excited because the school had allowed its students to open food stalls to honour the occasion.
Each team setting up a food stall needed at least five members. My friends and I weren’t really interested because then we wouldn’t be able to focus on the real issue- eating.
On the grand day, we watched as the group of boys from our class brought in their stuff. They took up a lot of space because the container in which they brought cold drinks were huge. Plus, they brought a large tub of ice-cream, bottles of some sort of blue syrup, cupcakes and a whole lot of other things. It was amusing to see them stagger down the stairs. But the joke was on us later, because they got to miss the first few periods to set up their stalls. They grinned at everyone stuck in class before scampering away.
The groups were allowed to advertise what they would be selling, which meant the prefects took it as a perfect opportunity while herding us like sheep to the auditorium for the morning assembly. “Hey, get in line already! And don’t forget to visit stall 15! We’re selling cookies!”
But the boys from our class- Joseph, Thomas, Rohith, Milan and Zainul- had put in more effort. They actually had a few flyers printed out which they held as people stared at them on their way. They were Stall 9.
Each section had a half an hour to go down and visit the stalls. The school had earlier announced that the maximum amount each person was allowed to bring was only 100 rupees. But when Neha and Angela told me they would bring more, I did so too. And I was so glad I did. Most of the prices of food were just cruel. We had to bargain with each stall to get what we wanted.
Bisna, Neha, Angela and I had pooled our resources. The idea was that, whenever one of us bought something, we would buy just enough to share amongst us. This way, we would be able to have more stuff, and not eat too much of anything.We were dividing a slice of creamy chocolate cake that I had bought for us when a piece of it fell on my skirt.
I stared at the stain in dismay “It is removable, right?”
My friends assured me that yes, it was.
“That was partly my fault.” Neha said. “I’m sorry.”
I told her it was fine, before we took off to the other stalls.
The visit to Stall 9 was the most anticipated. The guys were bombarding whoever got close enough. It was pretty good marketing strategy. I already had a feeling that they were after ALL my money, because of the outrageous offers I got placed in front of me.
Milan held something up in front of my face. “This is a one-of-a-kind, Blue Lagoon muffin, Janaki! Our special! You might never have tasted anything like this before! AND it’s only, like, 70 rupees!”
I almost choked and died on my own spit when I realized it was just a plain muffin with some of the mystery syrup they had brought, on it.
“No way” I gave it a shove. “Besides, we already had a cupcake.”
“What about ice-cream, huh?” Joseph said. “This isn’t just your regular ice-cream, it’s vanilla AND chocolate. Eighty rupees a scoop!”
I just stared at the measly offering, which was already melting in the plate he had dumped it in.
I raised my hands “Can I just buy something I can actually afford?”
Rohith came over and said, “Okay, tell me how much money you have.”
“No way. You name me your price.”
It took some bickering, but we got our stuff at slightly less prices. We walked away with juice, and some other things I don’t really remember. Neha looked absolutely dazed. It turns out people from some of the other stalls had rushed over to her as well, and she had accidently bought food she hadn’t even wanted, including the ice-cream Joseph had offered.
I realized, as we walked away, how smart they had been. Because of the way they had offered us and the way they quickly took our money, they were making a fortune. Plus, most of their friends were taking turns and helping as well. And their stall was right next to the school building, making it the most noticeable.
The doubt that they might have made the most money was cleared the minute I stepped into class with my friends from the cafeteria after lunch.
Rohith waved his money in front of us “We made the biggest profit!”
We also learned that they had deceived most of the customers as well, because once their cold drinks ran out, they had simply poured some water on ice, along with blue syrup, and called it Sky juice. And it wasn’t cheap either. Most of the people had demanded their money back, but were met with “No refunds!”
According to someone, they had even charged one rupee for each sip from the younger grades as well.