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If Only I Could Have Had My Haircut A Day Before The Currency Ban!

Posted: November 11, 2016
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The currency ban might be a good thing in the long run, but what about those disadvantaged people, especially the elderly, who are affected badly by it?

On November 8th, at night by 9′ clock, the frequent beeps of whatsapp messages alerted me to it all. I couldn’t believe at first instance that from the next day, November 9th, 2016, all 500 and 1000 rupees notes had been legally banned!

A good move by the Govt to tackle all the black money in and around. Also, an initiative to make our country a little free from corruption – and I just hope it will one day.

I am settled in Bangalore, an IT city, and my husband works for this IT sector. It’s been 11 years here and I can proudly call myself a Bangalorian. The best part of Bangalore is that you just don’t need much of cash to roam around. To shop, to buy, and to travel, everything can be bought with your plastic money.

Credit card, debit card, food cards and the myriad of online money transfer apps which will give your wallet or purse a relaxed feel. There is no need to carry many notes and coins for every corner you go to or stop at. And if you are working with a corporate then everything is very clear – you know how much you spend, save and pay to income tax.

But the struggle for every common person doesn’t go easy with every rule. I, too, am a common woman and can’t escape from it.

The first thing I checked after this announcement was how much cash I had. To be very honest, I generally don’t keep much of cash. Most of my work or purchases are through credit card or online transaction. I do use cash for LPG or local vendors. Also I can always take out cash anytime, as the ATM is just next to our building.

So this is what happened on the 9th of November, the first day that the said currency notes were made illegal.

For the last few days, I had been planning to get my hair trimmed at a nearby salon. So I picked up my younger one from school and headed toward it. The first question I asked the lady at the counter was, “Are you accepting 500 or 1000 rupee notes?” Prompt came the answer, “NO!”

Even her credit card machine was out of order. So I frantically went to an adjacent shop to get change, if possible. He was the vegetable vendor, though an air-conditioned one. Again my first question, “Will you accept 500or 1000 notes?”

“Yes,” he said, “but you have to shop minimum for 200 Rs.”

I agreed, picked up a basket and started shopping for unwanted things. Oh! I had never done this in my life. Just for the sake of few hundreds and a good hairdo.

Anyway, I shopped for 250 Rupees and he (not so happily) gave me the change. In fact, I was happier than him by spending more for unwanted things.

Then again I rushed to the salon for the pending work. She was indeed happy that the lost customer was back with the same zeal and with change too. Or maybe I was the only customer at that moment.

After my hair cut, I gave all the change to her, all hundreds, tens, coins and indeed – at that time she was happier than me. WOW! So much of change!

The effect was still on when my elder kid’s dance teacher who is always happy to collect cash from us for fees, sent the message to the whole group, “Please transfer the money online!” Hmm. Actually, no one wants to take a risk for Rs 500 and 1000, and who has the time to stand in a long queue in a bank while all ATMs are temporarily shut?

I think this is the first time in life when people are happy with smaller currency rather than bigger ones.

So I know the change is for the greater good, but didn’t immediately realize the side effects of the precipitate policy.

I know many people around who are old, retired, and staying alone too. Some have some important lifetime events, and some are unwell. These elderly cannot go to the ATM all the time so they had kept a good amount of cash with them. I am still in the thirties and certainly can manage things somehow, or by running around. Though a hair cut was not indeed a priority but I did try to do something to get it.

I think of all those who are not physically strong enough to run around to bank or ATMs, and not having any credit cards too will surely have a tough task ahead. How will they manage their emergencies and mundane chores? I can see the struggle they go through even on ordinary days, and this is just an add-on.

Can they get any kind of subsidy or grace period to exchange their old currency or avail of some external help? After all, their next generation is not staying with them and their bones are too feeble to stand in a long queue. And what will happen to those who don’t have any bank accounts as yet?

I am still in a little better situation as I don’t keep much cash, neither do I have any urgency or any occasion where I need to worry about it. But for a while, I can surely feel the pain of many people, caused by this big money change.

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Published here earlier.

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