The real price of everything, what everything costs to the man who wants to acquire it is the toil and trouble of acquiring it. Whats everything id really worth to the man who has acquired it, and who wants to dispose of it or exchange it for something else, is the toil and trouble which it can save to himself, and which it can impose upon other people.
That was Adam Smith.
I have always been a fan of vadais, if you don’t know what a vadai is, then you’ve probably not hung around a lot of Sri Lankan trains, roadsides or bust stops much. They are small, made of dhal and flour, fried, crispy and can usually include a little piece of maldive fish or a prawn or two. The prawn variety is known as an isso vadai, isso meaning prawns, and are extremely popular around Galle Face, before it was shut down that is (by shut down i mean Galle Face, not the isso vadai industry har har).
Excuse me while I clear up my watering mouth. Now vadais are generally very popular in crowded areas and a pack of 5 small maldive fish vadais (back when I was schooling, which was not so long ago) cost about 10 bucks. you’d get some fried chilies to much along with them and iv always considered them to be a tasty treat.
What do vadais have in common with indices and the theory of value? I hear you ask. Well I’m getting there so please do be patient.
So recently I was in Ratnapura on a Saturday for a funeral. Bussed it there alone and when i got there what did I see? You guessed it! a chap selling vadai in a little cart. So i walked over and asked for a pack of 5 maldive fish vadais (generally a bit smaller than your average chicken egg) and i dig out my wallet expecting it to cost about 20 bucks (allowing for inflation) and guess what? chap asks me for 30.
Ok. well I guessed times were hard and the vadais did look pretty crisp. So I shelled it out. So that was a 300% increase in price over a period of oh say, 3 years or so.
Sounds like a good indicator of the real level of inflation in the country to me. Maybe the Central Bank should consider initiating a vadai index. Or maybe even a basket index of all roadside ‘fast-food’ items if correlation is as obvious as it is with the vadai. Maybe I should start an island wide campaign to generate awareness. This could be a start.