Delhiites are thinking of innovative ways to work around the currency ban as it is time to pay domestic helps, cooks, drivers and others whose services keep countless households running.
Two weeks since the currency ban announcement, cash is still a premium. Plastic cards and e-wallets may have helped some sail through the month. But they are of no use in paying for everyday services.
CHEQUES AND BARTER SAVE THE DAY
Lajpat Nagar resident and homemaker Sunita Srivastata (36) has to pay her help Rs 500 to wash utensils twice a day. Instead, she offered to buy her groceries.
“Since it is a small amount, I will buy her monthly groceries for the sum and give her the bill. She understood that everyone is facing a cash crunch and agreed to my proposal,” she said.
Many others in the neighbourhood also use the idea, Srivastava said.
Lado Sarai resident Ashish Parashar pays his house maid Rs 2,000. But this month, he offered to buy train tickets for his maid’s husband and her children, to save up on precious notes.
“First, I gave her options of old notes, issuing a cheque or depositing the money in a bank account. She refused all three. She had told my wife that her husband and children will go to Punjab for a week. I bought their tickets. It costed around Rs 2,000,” said Parashar.
SAVING UP FOR ANOTHER’S PAY DAY
Others like IT professional Manoj Halder anticipated the situation. He used his card wherever possible to save up the cash to pay his maid and driver.
“We can live on plastic money, but these people rely on what they get at the end of the month. I did not even feel like giving excuses,” he said.
Halder’s driver and maid have been employed with the family for long. He pays them a total of Rs 20, 000.
Most of them consider household helps their lifelines and do not want to disappoint them, Lajpat Nagar resident welfare association president, Pawan Arora, said. “Most of the people in our area are paying partly in cash, and paying the rest by buying things for them.”
Dwarka Sector-12 resident Sudha Ashok’s maid has agreed to accept a part of November’s salary by cheque.
The 42-year-old has to pay her maid Rs 4,500 a month. That would mean two trips to the ATM to stand in serpentine queues because of the Rs 2,500 withdrawal cap per card.
“My maid has a bank account and paying a portion of her salary by cheque will be convenient for both of us,” said Ashok.
She will he pay her maid Rs 2,000 in cash — as she needs it urgently— and the rest by cheque.
“Instead of delaying payment or waiting for the situation to improve, we agreed I will issue a cheque in her name. She can get it deposited in her account according to her convenience,” Ashok said.
NEW-AGE MAIDS NOT FOOLED BY OLD NOTES
If residents are finding interesting ways to ride the cash crunch, maids and drivers are also on their guard about employers trying to dispose of old notes.
With the influx of smartphones, most helps in Delhi are aware that old denomination of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 are banned.
“I keep myself updated about all the developments and try to inform as many people I can. I have told all the maids I know not to accept old notes,” said Sarita Devi (48).
She heads a maids’ union in Mayur Vihar. The resident of east Delhi’s Chilla village has been in the business for over 20 years and has developed a strong network with other maids in the area.
Workers refuse to accept even Rs 2,000 notes and ask for Rs 100 notes. They said it was difficult to get change.
OPPORTUNITY IN SCARCITY
Still others have gone a step ahead with their resourcefulness.
South Extension resident, Nidhi Chaddha, said most residents in her locality pay drivers by cheque, but it comes with a rider. “The driver is given a day’s holiday and he has to stand in the bank queue. He has to withdraw Rs 24,000—the maximum withdrawal allowed. He can keep his monthly salary and return the remaining to the owner.”