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No dinner, no way to get to work: The day after currency ban

india Updated: Nov 09, 2016 18:02 IST
Anirban Ghoshal
Currency ban

An Indian vehicle driver gives a 1000 rupee note to the Toll Plaza employee at the Nivedita Setu Toll plaza at Rajchandrapur on the outskirts of Kolkata.(AFP Photo)

I worked hard and partied harder last night. At around midnight, I booked an Uber to go home. On the way, I requested the driver to take me to a 24x7 outlet so that I could buy something to eat. The driver was nice enough to oblige, but when I reached the store, I saw the manager pasting a note on the glass wall that Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes would not be accepted any more.

I had two Rs 500 notes, and though the shelves were laden with food, I couldn’t buy any. The currency in my wallet had just been declared illegal tender by the government -- without warning or notice. My driver suggested that I try to go to Nizamuddin for dinner but I asked him to just take me home. My mind was already working on how I would get to work early today.

This morning, I tried booking an Ola Auto but there were no takers. As I was hurrying down the stairs to try my luck on the road, my landlord accosted me and said that the rent money I had paid in cash last week (all Rs 500 rupee notes) would have to be replaced. I politely asked if we could discuss it in the evening.

Already late, I started waving frantically at any auto I could spot. A few stopped but only to ask if I had “exact change”. My 500 rupee notes were useless to them. I kept trying until one auto driver finally agreed to help. During the ride, my landlord kept calling incessantly to make sure that I would change the money. I kept telling him that I would look into it.

I finally reached office over an hour late. And then I wrote this.

(Anirban Ghoshal is a journalist with Hindustan Times. The views expressed are personal)