THE RELUCTANT KNITTER          - 19/8/2008      <--Prev : Next-->

Mother always said you should learn something new every day....

And today HeeHoo taught me about the Hard Boiled Egg Index !

This is a peculiarly "African" thing. Now seven hard boiled eggs, the length and breadth of the Continent, should cost one US Dollar ! Or the equivalent in the local currency.

I wonder why they use 7 hard boiled eggs as a measure ?
Surely it should be a dozen eggs, or half a dozen, or at least a Bakers Dozen ?
But SEVEN hard boiled eggs ??
Does anyone know the answer. .....

The HARD BOILED EGG INDEX or HBEI is I gather, a universal currency rate used in Africa....

The Hard Boiled Egg Index is believed to demonstrate "fair value" given its relationship to continent wide purchasing power parity. Sometimes the parallel rate gets ahead of the HBEI and sometimes it lags behind (but not usually for long). Generally the HBEI reflects exchange rate inflation, regional purchasing power parity, and domestic inflation in a very effective way.

Well thats the official explanation at any rate.... so next time you buy a hard boiled egg on the street corner you will have learned something.

Lack of cash is hitting us all really hard. We were allowed to draw just three trillion dollars per day from the bank. (In the new currency, since they dropped ten zeros, it is just three hundred Zimbabwe dollars ) Now when one considers that a loaf of bread costs a quarter of that, one learns to spend ones money wisely !!

Some ingenious ways of finding money have arisen !! The banking sector is in such disarray that most firms and shops will not accept cheques. A cheque takes five to ten days to clear and the money has devalued significantly by the time the lolly gets into one's account .

The RTGS was the saving grace for a while, until the banking system buckled under the weight of all these zillions, then businessmen started to give different rates for cash in Zim dollars, a different rate for a cheque and a different rate for an RTGS. Of course first prize is any other currency !!

A restauranteur offered the following choices in Harare before the nought dropping debacle. "You either pay me 20 trillion Zim dollars cash, or the cheque rate is 56 trillion or you give me 90 US dollars." Which payment method would you choose ?

It would take 7 days to draw twenty trillion cash at the allowable withdrawal of three trillion dollars a day !!

Writing a cheque was an art !! A trillion dollars has twelve zeros, which cheque book has the space for as many zeros?

HeeHoo wrote a cheque the other day where the zeros went round the corner and up the side of the cheque !! And the bank accepted it !!

One has sympathy for the business sector but they must be losing money hand over fist. HeeHoo tells a delightful story of five Captains of Zimbabwe Industry standing glumly in the Harare Domestic terminal bar, sharing two beers into five plastic cups, ..... the cost of two beers was seven trillion Zimbabwe dollars, was all these gentlemen of immense wealth could rustle up between them in local currency !!

How the average man in the street copes I have yet to ascertain. I do however know that people are dying of starvation, people are dying because their essential medicines are no longer affordable and people are dying because there are no drugs at all in the hospitals, even if they could afford to spend even one night in a hospital !!

My own particular designer pills cost 18 trillion for a course of thirty and that was two weeks ago so they probably would cost double that today.

I have seen today's inflation graph and it goes straight up in the perpendicular !! We are all familiar with millions and billions and now trillions, but see what we had in store for us ?

Quadrillion, Quintillion, Hexillion, Heptillion, Octillion, Nonillion, Decillion, Unodecillion, Duodecillion, Triodecillion, Quadecillion, Quintdecillion, Hexdecillion, Zillion

A trillion requires fitting twelve zeros and a zillion has 69 zeros !! Hope they get the cheque books sorted out quickly !! Thank goodness they dropped all those noughts off.

And so shopping is out of the question, driving to visit a friend costs far too much . Going for coffee is a definite non starter, for a cup of coffee and a muffin , I would have to go to the bank ten days in a row !! (With fuel at a trillion dollars a litre !!)

There is certainly no point in going to work, as my wages would not cover my fuel to work and back daily, and so there is nothing else for me to do but to take up knitting. Reluctantly.

Yes I am the original reluctant knitter but then nice warm scarf would be ideal for the security guard. Knit two, purl two, even my state of mind could cope with that......

Mother taught us to knit ..... knitting, sewing and cooking were obligatory for nicely brought up young ladies in the seventies, I learnt to make a pair of broekies at Eveline school, we used at least a yard of material, so they were bloomers of note !!

Mum taught us chain stitch, daisy stitch and stem stitch, she taught us to make a button hole, sew a fine seam, and put in a zipper. She ensured I made a pair of bootees for each of my children and a tiny little knitted jumper for each baby !!

She taught me to sew curtains, bedspreads and dresses, but the moment she passed on to a better world, I turned my back on my embroidery scissors and beautiful skeins of thread, handed my tapestry over to someone a lot more worthy, and joined the ranks of the modern mums who DO NOT DO SEWING !!

But knitting is fine, it's mindless, it's soporific, it takes my mind off my desire for coffee, it takes my mind off the endless political turmoil,

knit two, purl two, knit two purl two .........