“Yahan purane note kum commission par badle jaate hain,” (Old notes are exchanged here on low commission), reads the oversized signboard above a tiny shop that Deepak runs out of a stool and chair.
Though Deepak, who gives out new notes in exchange for those that are torn or are in bad condition, has not made any money in the past five days, he has become the most sought after man in Chandni Chowk. People are queuing up outside his shop near Fatehpuri Masjid with old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes, hoping to exchange them for the new currency.
The board seems to have confused them. “People are thinking that I am sitting here with stacks of new currency notes and am exchanging them. I am tired of telling them that I do not have any new notes with me. I exchange only torn and soiled notes for new ones and charge a commission on that. That is my business. I do not have any new currency on me, not even for my own expenditure,” he says.
Vexed, he even shut his shop but people queued up at his residence. “They found out where I lived and started coming home. I lost patience, thinking that I myself am not making money, why are these people rubbing it in? But now I understand that the people are really helpless. Now when they come to me, I smilingly turn them away,” he says.
Deepak says that he never got so many customers but sadly they are not earning him any profit. He has not earned any money for the past five days. “I have never seen so many people flocking to my shop before but sadly I can’t help them. They are getting confused reading the board. I have not made a single penny since the demonitasation was announced,” he says.
Deepak goes to the bank with all the old notes and exchanges them for new ones but last five days have been difficult. The banks are not accepting his notes so his business has been severely hit. “The queues are so long at banks and all officials are busy releasing the new currency. Where will they get time to exchange these old torn notes. I had gone two days ago to the bank but returned after seeing the queue. I used to deal with cash everyday but today I do not even have sufficient money to feed my family. Yesterday I borrowed grocery from a local shopkeeper. I hope things to return to normal soon,” he says.