The Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 notes might have made an exit from our lives, but, Holi is giving us a quirky reminder of the demonetisation drama. Wholesale markets such as Patri Market in Sadar Bazaar, and Chandni Chowk are flooded with pichkaris (water guns) inspired by the old currency notes. “Ye toh trend hai (This is a trend)... Jo bhi news mein hota hai, uski pichkari demand mein hoti hai (whoever or whatever is the newsmaker is a hit in pichkari markets),” says Sandeep Kumar, who has been in this business for 17 years.
Last year, pichkaris with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s face printed on them were hot-selling items in the market. And pichkaris with pictures of Bollywood celebrities such as Katrina Kaif on them made news a year before that. But, they are no match to the “notewali pichkaris”, says Kumar.
“Last year, pichkaris with punch lines, such as ‘Panch saal Kejriwal’ and ‘Modi Raj’ were very popular. Katrina Kaif and Kareena Kapoor pichakri bhi bikti hai, lekin notewali pichakari ka koi tod nahi. Sometimes, we have to tell the buyers to come the next day for these pichkaris as we run out by evening,” says Kumar.
Shobha Jain, who has been running a shop in Sadar Bazaar for the last three generations, says, “Customers think that pichkaris with old currency notes on them are funny. There is a huge demand for them as people are still not over the demonetisation phase.”
The price of these pichkaris differ depending on the quality and size. “We have ample variety, starting from Rs. 20 and going up to Rs. 400 or more,” says Manoj Sharma, another shopkeeper in the area.
“1000 ka note nahi hai toh kya, pichakri toh hai. I want to play Holi with Modi ji with this pichkari and to all those who are cribbing about notebandi (demonetisation) I want to say, ‘Bura na mano Holi hai’ (laughs),” says Sunil Pant, a Delhi resident who bought the pichkari. “Maine naye note se purane note wali pichkari khareedi hai (I’ve bought an old-note inspired pichkari from this new currency), that’s how much I miss the old 1000 rupee note,” says Shashwat Kumar, another resident of Delhi.