Here, come. Dono gale mil ke rote hain. Rakhe huye the nah 1000/500 ke notes? I understand your pain. I had them, too. Not in the quantity that I, or the tax department, would have liked, but I still had some. Now the torture of having to give up what I recently got on Bhai Dooj is killing me.
After so many years of getting away with shelling out 100 rupee notes, my nalayak brothers had found better jobs and promoted my shagun lifafa to contain the ‘big’ ones. Today that promotion has become the bane of my life. Aansoo hi nahi ruk rahe, har taraf 500 ke notes dikh rahein hain. After all, sentimental attachment with something that you’ve been cherishing in your wallet is also something. Some people, I hear, loved their notes so much that they even slept with them. Or on them, with the notes tucked in bed boxes, whatever. Rona nahi aayega kya bichhadte huye?
And to top it, the visuals of standing for hours in queues as long as five Amitabh Bachchans laid horizontally one after the other, and in return to get smaller pinky notes which my kids have been fighting for years in a game called monopoly – I am crying. It is as if one was not incredulous enough to see Delhi monuments, and your mother-in-law disappear in smog. Or as if seeing Americans solve the problem of blacks Vs whites by getting an orange-coloured president was not enough to shake the senses. Modi ji ne yeh kar ke sadma raised to the power of infinity kar diya.
Vaise don’t get me wrong, haan. I’m not complaining about the move. Like all patriotic, and honest people certified by Jaitley Bhai Saab, I’m all for this historic masterstroke to root out black money. Regardless of my Bhai Dooj shagun envelopes staring me in the face with beautiful corners of 1000 rupee notes sticking out, I did the national duty of applauding the move on social media, and topped it up with happy status updates about having only enough cash to afford half a plate of chowmein. I also bowed down in front of the revered page 3 people who reiterated that they are so happy by the demonetisation because all their dealings have always been in ‘white’ and that they even donate money on traffic signals with a credit card. I saw some of my business class neighbours anxiously loading big boxes in their SUVs late at night. Kitne ache hain nah log? They must be carrying sweets to distribute at traffic signals in celebration of the prospect of swachh economy beating swachh bharat in the speed of visible impact.
But jokes apart, this one heroic step got the whole of India in late-night action like only an India-Pakistan day-night match can get. New ties were fostered. Mrs Chaddha and I hugged like two happy sparrows chirping about having two guddies each of ten rupee notes at home. Chaddha ji beat us by digging out his shaadi ki maala that was made of five rupee notes. I broke off two notes from it when he wasn’t looking. I felt like having an ice-cream. It’s another thing that the ice-cream walah had gone to a relatives’ place to exchange some ‘documents’, and had shut shop.
Amid all the celebrations and fervour, I made a few small observations. Tell me if you noticed, too.
1. Everyone seems to display an odd mix of celebration and anxiety. People have been talking loudly in office corridors. Anyone who seems upset – even if from the leftover chikungunya pains is being seen with suspicion of having hoarded kaala money. So people are making a conscious effort to smile and crack jokes. Even politicians on TV are smiling. I bet you five bucks that If Kejriwal knew how to smile, he would have, too. Smiling and looking chilled is the new benchmark of honestly. Chalo isi baat pe gimme a grin. Yep, you passed the test.
2. The demonetisation move brought out our hidden genius at humour. People have come up with the most amazing jokes. Kisi Einstein ne toh Modi ji ki speech over hone se pehle hi 500 ke notes mein chana chor garam bikne wala gif bana liya. Do you see our speed, guys? Whatsapp groups haven’t stopped buzzing and dancing with excitement. People are laughing even on repeated jokes. ‘Good-morning’ flower baskets have been replaced by innovative uses of 1000 rupee notes. What fun!
3. The new 2000 rupee note has set new standards in cute. The makers of the movie Pink are claiming credit. The feminists can’t stop smiling at the subtle endorsement, even as some others are planning to use the mangalyaan on the reverse to pack them to Mars via the White House. Most importantly, the size of this note will fit well into the shagun lifafas that we have a national hobby to store and recycle. RBI, here’s a kiss of thanks.
4. Those who were to get married are showing increased symptoms of hyperventilation and chest pain. No one is going to give them 500-1000 rupee notes in shagun. Or maybe everyone will. It’s a loss, either way. Some really religious and God fearing folks like me have decided to not drag God in the petty business of exchanging currency and donated all the big notes in temples. HE doesn’t need to exchange. HE has the power to bring those notes back in circulation. Keep faith.
5. Finally, have you observed how beautifully (and hey, don’t try to detect sarcasm because there isn’t any) have our banking staff taken charge? I LOVE the way bank employees have risen to the call of duty. It’s not easy to sacrifice weekends, time-offs, food and keep patience while dealing with thousands of anxious people each day. They’ve done it, and how. Meri taraf se a big salute and a customised garland of 1000 rupee notes to each of them. Achha maarna mat. Thank you. Seriously.
Sonal Kalra loves the spirit of Indians when it’s about coming together for a good cause. By the way, Indians love spirit as much. Just look at the queue at the wine shop –– right next to the bank. Mail her at email@example.com or facebook.com/sonalkalraofficial. Follow on Twitter @sonalkalra