Have you laid your hands on a freshly minted Rs 2,000 note yet? Have you tried spending it? Chances are most shopkeepers will turn you away.
After banks started exchanging the old Rs 500 and Rs1,000 notes after the Prime Minister’s sudden ban, a few account holders have managed to get the new denomination.
But with a shortage of intermediate denominations of Rs 100, Rs 500 and Rs 1,000, the Rs 2,000 note — acquired most likely after hours in queues — proves unusable to buy even basic items.
HT’s three-hour journey in central Delhi, trying to spend the purple note, took the correspondent to 13 vendors, grocery store owners, eateries and even a popular coffee shop.
All that she could buy with it was a bottle of water worth Rs 20.
AN AUTO RIDE
Armed with a crisp Rs 2,000 note, this correspondent took an auto in the noon from KG Marg to go to Connaught Place. When she handed out the note for the R-60 ride, driver Rakesh refused to touch it. “Itna bada note. Kyu mazak kar rahin hain? Iska chhuta kahan se launga? (Such a big sum? Are you joking? From where will I get the change?)” With neither an answer nor the change to pay him, she had to accept his suggestion of paying him later.
GROCERY STORE IN CP
At the next stop, our correspondent picked up a few packets of chips, a jar of sweets, a handful of noodles and cereal packets. Her effort to use the new note to pay a bill of …..was in vain again.
With an apologetic smile, the shopkeeper said, “Sorry madam. No change. I will not be able to give you the balance. Please come back with change.”
His wife, a senior citizen, said she went to the bank the previous day, but was forced to return empty-handed after five hours of waiting. “I literally cried. How do I help you when I myself do not have the money?” she said.
The reporter left without buying anything.
Exhausted trying to spend Rs 2,000 on a warm day, the reporter wanted a drink of water. A bottle of cold water, a juice bottle and a pack of cigarettes sounded good. A bunk shop nearby had it all. But the Rs 2,000 note failed her again.
“Arey baap re! I can sell my entire shop to you for this much money. Will you buy them all?” said the irked shopkeeper, pushing away the note.
The next two hours were no better. Fruit vendors, sweetshop owners and auto drivers -- there were no takers for the note along the stretch from CP through Bengali Market to Shankar market.
Desperate to get rid of the note, the reporter got ready to pay Rs 500 on fruits. “You can take the oranges and pay later. What will I do with a note of such a high denomination?” the vendor said.
He said sales were dipping and the few customers were flashing big notes. “The government should have first released R500 and R1,000 notes for our convenience. Why issue such a big note when there is no change?”
The next stop was an international coffee chain.
“If your bill is around R1,500 we can take the note. We do not have any change. Please pay by card,” the cashier said.
A customer in the queue muttered, “These R2,000 notes are of no use until R 500 and R 100 notes are released. It is like a certificate. You can frame it and keep it at home or may be flaunt it, forget using it,” he summarised.
The last stop, for a water bottle at a paan vendor, held a big surprise. The vendor gladly took the note, opened his draw and pulled out a stack of notes -- all in hundreds. “Please take the bottle and drink water. You seem thirsty. I will count the change and give it to you. It will take a while,” he said.
He counted Rs 1,980 and handed it to this correspondent. She can hopefully survive the next 49 days.