The year was 2003. The atmosphere was throbbing with anticipation. This was like a dream! A much awaited wedding which most thought would never happen. As they walked into the large luxurious room, rubbing a shoulder here, a small pat there, wetting their lips to hide their nervousness, their eyes reflecting the immensity of the occasion. What would happen next? Will the mental picturisation match real performance? Would the expectations be fulfilled? It is going to be a hard and long journey together. Will the bounce and wild screaming last long?
At that moment, out in the lawns of the venue of Global Investors Meet, the monkey ate the Mushrooms.
It is not an easy trip by any standards. Mushrooms could be Magic. As the promises of money in the form of Investments were heard the monkey and its mind took off.
First it chose the Rs 7,000-crore, 515-km express highway linking Thiruvananthapuram in the south with Kasaragod in the north. It zoomed across the state only to be slowed down by the finishing touches the 100-metre wide expressway had for accommodating a bullet train service, a power highway and a gas grid, apart from having in-built canal and cable ducts.
By the time it got back to the venue Memorandums of understanding (MoUs) worth over Rs 7,000 crore were signed at GIM (Global Investor Meet). The shrooms were really performing. The monkey met every investor congragulated him/her. He went overboard in his praise at the Royalty present, till he recognized the doorman who was his tenant of a single room dwelling.
In a spell of momentary lapse of reason the monkey befriended an exhilarated group who were neither global nor investors and went along for a boat ride in the seas of the hick town pretending to be a city. All matrices of development, investments and sexual exploits were thoroughly analyzed. The prime income generator of the state poured till the cup and some guts spilled over.
When the night cooled down the monkey lying on the floor of the boat, mistaken by others for a heap of soiled linen, tripped on The Teachings of Don Juan by Carlos Castaneda. In it these few lines meant more to the monkey now than it ever did. It said: The real secret of the mixture lies in the mushrooms” he said. They are the most difficult Ingredient to collect. The trip to the place where they grow is long and dangerous, and to select the right variety is even more perilous. There are other kinds of mushrooms growing alongside which are of no use; they would spoil the good ones if they are dried together. It takes time to know the mushrooms well in order not to make a mistake. Serious harm will result in using the wrong kind.
The Monkey now with the Global vision replaced the word mushrooms with Investors.
And he found his Moment of understanding.
Just as the Magic of mushrooms, the feeling ( which many years later another big cock up would call “Irrational Exuberance”) vanished. The Monkey bought another Calendar in 2004 and got on with his life.
Later that year the monkey learned after the much-publicised Global Investor Meet (GIM) aimed at showcasing Kerala as an investment destination, some existing industries are planning to exit the state.
Ironically, after the GIM, there has been little progress in the growth of industry. While 890 companies were registered between January 20, 2003, a day after the GIM and January 15, 2004, the average capital that came in through these companies was just Rs 15.07 lakh with an authorised capital of Rs 134.13 crore, according to statistics available with the Registrar of Companies.
The Monkey remembered the wise assessment of a writer at that time. “In reality, GIM or no GIM, Kerala is unlikely to be visited by the conventional angel of industrial development. Far better not to chase that dream, and let lesser flowers like lowly services bloom.”
The next five years went by. The Monkey voted ,copulated, drank, smoked, and in spare time tried to earn some sort of living.
Then he bought the 2009 calendar. A few months later he came across in the same hick town still pretending to be a bigger city hosting a world Investors meet. He was tempted to have another magic journey. But he just could not cope with disappointments on a large scale. Moreover he had taken to contributing to Beverages Corporation and thereby the State coffers in a big way.
A day after the meet he bought a Newspaper and sat down on the beach watching the House boats go by. A news item caught his eye. He sat there spellbound. It said: The recently concluded ‘Focus Kerala – World Investors Meet’ has been able to garner a possible investment of Rs 3,978.15 crore for the State from the two-day event……A total of 26 projects in various sectors have been planned. MoUs for 16 projects have been signed during the meet and 10 more will be signed soon. He sighed, stood up, ready to go get his sundowner.
Just then two young pretty things were approaching him. One of them bright and eager and the other one clearly challenged. He was watching this glorious sight when from nowhere a Caucasian with a Manual Camera and a huge lens jumped in between and started framing some perfect pictures.
The challenged one was scared. The pretty thing consoled her “he is only trying to FOCUS sweetie!!
What?? The both of us ?? asked the human mushroom.
The Monkey smiled. Not both of you dearies! He thought.
3.5 crores of us.