Every morning, I shuddered when the vendor slipped the newspaper under the door. ‘Now what’, I would sigh, as my sons rushed to pick it up. They eagerly scanned the pages and with a whoop of joy, grabbed the
scissors. ‘Not again’! I grumbled, as they got ready to enter one more contest.
Manufacturers seem to be in the grip of this virulent ‘contest epidemic’ and each day there is a new bait dangled before the hopeful entrants. They are irresistible with their promises of ‘free trip for two’ to God knows where, videos, colour TV’s, cars and if not all these, ‘lucky prizes for everyone’. They are so ‘simple and easy’. All you have to do is match something with something else, fill in your name and address and mail it. Can you imagine? There’s no entry fee and you can send as many as you like! But... this is where the snag lies. Each entry must be ‘accompanied’ by an empty carton or inside seal or outside flap or what-you-have. And tarry... just to make things more exciting, how about writing a wee line of twelve words on ‘why I like...’ ! So off they go, collecting caps and things and thinking up catchy slogans. Those ‘fab’ prizes are just waiting to be won...
There was that tantalising invitation for ‘early birds’ to catch the dough every week. A larger than life cheque displayed what was in store for the creative ones who had to fill in just one word! I had to buy ten instant coffee tins to get the inner seals, for my sons to send five entries each. And we were never a coffee drinking household!!There was a lot of nail biting suspense till the results were announced-as usual, the prizes went to someone else and I was left with more coffee than was good for my budget.
Before I could recover from the ‘caffeine fiasco’, another tempting contest was floated. This time, you could jet away to dreamy places by just scribbling a few rhyming lines, about a soft drink. Four caps to a rhyme, it said. The rhyming mania griped the family. When they were not drinking the stuff, they would be scratching their heads. Even the conversation at home became poetic. Hubby would say, “Pass the pepper, or I’ll lose my temper”; “Have you polished my shoes and ironed my Blues?” “Look for my hanky and don’t be cranky”; and the sons would say “Serve me the curry, I’m in a hurry”; “Mom you’re a honey, how about some money?”... At the end of it all, I had to scream “Stop all this nonsense, you won’t win a tuppence”. And I was right!
I had to buy a pressure cooker I didn't need, cold cream I don’t use, a vanishing cream I had never heard of, a health drink nobody liked, bulbs I can do without and I wonder what else... Our grocer too had caught on to the game. He announced a free trip for four to Hawaii. All you had to do was write why you liked buying your groceries at his store, in a 150 word paragraph. The contest was simple. There were four pictures of different kinds of dals. Below them were pictures of dishes. Match the dals to the dishes, send in as many entries, each with a cash memo for 10 kgs of any dal. I had to buy a container to store 10kgs of dal.