I love stories. There’s something about the way they build up, collect in a beautiful funnel of emotions and then trickle down into a simply amazing formula of emotions and thoughts for the world to read.

But a story out of demonetisation? Really?ย You knew this was coming. I mean, it’s all over the news and social media feeds, so obviously I was going to write about it.

Okay, maybe you didn’t anticipate that bit but you’re here anyway, so do stay. I won’t be going into any technical details about the demonetisation move implemented by the government. I won’t be arguing the fiscal or economic impact this may have on the country.ย I won’t take strong sides on the subject, from the political point of view.

But, here’s what I will do: Talk about how it taught me some home truthsย about myself and perhaps, the people around me too.

Awareness

I’ll admit I wasn’t immediately aware of the announcement by the Prime Minister because I wasn’t watching the news when it broke. A casual message from my sister alerted me to it. Thanks to social media after that, I was rapidly made aware of various views about the situation as it unfolded.

A part of me was thrilled about the entire exercise which appeared to be a master stroke- wipe out black money in one swoop. Too good to be true? But then, it’s always worth trying something out before negating it. That’s what I did.

I lauded it and I still think it’s an extremely bold move, given its unexpectedness and the way it was announced sent shivers down the spines of many black market hoarders, I’m sure. So I also consciously read up on a lot of articles which weighed the pros and cons of the situation.ย It pays to be informed of the situation especially when it directly impacts you.

There are some things which should have been done differently, ideally, to ease the burden on the common man. That, in my opinion, is where the execution fell flat.

Adaptability

As a race, we are largely capable of adapting to circumstances. Sure, we’ll crib and moan and groan, but hey that’s human. When it comes down to it, most of us are pretty resilient and it shows in the way we manage with debit and credit cards, PayTM and online ordering items using Net banking.

It’s a different matter that a lot of the lower economic classes don’t have access to any of these luxuries so it was good to see people stepping in and doing what they could to help them out.

Empathy

If there’s one thing this exercise taught a lot of us that underneath it all, we’re one and the same. Each of us, irrespective of our economic status (barring the ultra rich), did feel the pinch in various ways over the past week.

Some of our maids, cooks and drivers were at a loss in trying to figure out how to manage their day to day expenses. Some are still struggling. In that sense, I feel this move was rather ill executed. With hardly any time for people to prepare, the rug was pulled out from underneath them.

When 500 and 1000/- notes ceased to be legal tender, many people panicked and worried about what to do. I’m amazed at the number of people who came out in droves to help support their household helpers as well as people without ready access to cash. These are things that we must be proud of, every single day.

Compassion

One of the best truths that came to me today was how we are capable of immense compassion. As we stood in line, I saw people making way for the elderly to go ahead. The security guard manning the entrance kept asking us to be patient with a smile on his face.

As I moved closer to the counter, I saw how the cashiers were working diligently and were patiently helping out each customer, despite being exhausted to the bone.

One of the cashiers was a lady who’d been very friendly and cordial with me ever since I opened an account at this branch. She took my call this morning and suggested that I come around 2 pm to avoid standing in line from 9 am onwards.

Her voice was cracking and when I asked if she was okay, she admitted that she was exhausted since none of the bank’s employees had taken any days off since last Tuesday. She’d reached home at 2 am last night and was back at the bank at 9 am to report for duty.

When I saw her at the counter, she smiled at me. Moved, I asked her if she’d had lunch and she nodded gratefully. I left the branch with my pockets heavier and my heart lighter that I knew such wonderful people in this world.

Patience

I didn’t rush to the ATMs or the banks the day after the move was announced. I did go to check out if any ATMs were dispensing money two days later but not with any firm agenda. I waited.

An entire week went by and today, I chose to visit my bank instead of an ATM so I could withdraw sufficient cash and keep it handy for an emergency. The queue at the bank was serpentine and I stood in line for two hours and 15 minutes. The last time I did that was when I waited to pick up my hall ticket for my final exams in college.

A lot of us were there today and we managed to stay rooted to our spots for nearly 3 hours, brought together by our common need. And yes, we bonded. Most of us did not even glance at our phones. There’s hope for the human race.

Humour

As the hours wore on, we turned to each other, complete strangers and joked about how we’d learnt to manage with the minimal amounts at home.

Sure, there was frustration and angst when things weren’t moving fast enough or when there was a last-minute request for an ID proof by the bank but we good-naturedly laughed it off.

I came back home and even put up a fun update about the new 2000/- note. *Warning: The colours of the note may cause temporary blindness.

Demonetisation_2000 Note

Were there things I didn’t appreciate? Of course.

  • I was a bit perturbed by how people tried to withdraw more than was necessary from the ATM when there were so many people waiting in the scorching sun. Multiple withdrawals using different cards were effectively emptying out the ATM kiosks.
  • People cutting in line at the bank made me see red and wish dearly for the power of Harry Potter’s unforgivable curses.
  • Some communication gaps between the banks and the customers could have been avoided. These caused some unnecessary delays (Note: Do check with your branch on documents you’d need for withdrawal/deposit/exchange of notes).

But on the whole, it was a very interesting week indeed. Some of the best stories come from the simplest of situations; the day to day challenges, the triumph of the human spirit and the way we learn so much about ourselves.

This is one such story. And I have the demonetisation scene in the country to thank for this post.

***

Are you affected by the demonetisation move?

How are you faring?

Here is a post by Mayuri on the subject that you may like:

Lessons Demonetisation taught me

Featured image courtesy: Shutterstock

16 thoughts on “6 simple home truths from the Demonetisation scene

  1. No matter what happened like goes on….there is a solution to every problem….one needs to think about big picture… Some of the thought that go in my mind about demonetization…. I feel things are smoother than what some media folks are better upon portraying

  2. I think the idea was good. The execution could have been so much better.
    I think I’ll leave it at that. Handy little lessons there though, Shailaja. Interesting take on something that has been throwing most of our lives off-course slightly. ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Yes, we humans have the ability to adapt to changes, with or without ease that depends on the individual. My father-in-law had a bad experience of waiting for more than 4 hours with no luck, at the end of which he was dizzy and returned home empty handed. Thankfully the next day he got money.

  4. I can well relate myself with this post, Shailaja. I too support this brave move by our PM. I also helped my maids, relatives, friends and neighbours. Kudos to all bank employees for their untiring work and loving support for the nation.

  5. It’s interesting how demonetisation has brought out good and bad in equal measure. I do feel for the bank employees. Must be pretty stressful for them. I have been largely unaffected thanks to netbanking. Even the smaller businessmen around – the fruit lady and the general merchant shop owner are all offering credit so life’s pretty sorted for now.

  6. Aah! This indeed was a masterstroke by the Prime Minister! I am mostly doing online / debit card transactions. No, I haven’t been to the bank or to any ATM. KG got the new currency and the change as well for me. Incidentally, he got it from his buddy who is the Branch Manager in a bank. Yes, we did help our maid with the cash and the shop near our place gave us milk for 2 days on credit. So, overall no hassles with this big move by the government.

  7. Like I said on Mayuri’s post, I haven’t been affected by this at all, I neither had cash that I had to exchange not did I need cash for survival. But such dependence on plastic money is definitely scaring me -_-

    Weird question for you: Do these notes smell like the old notes? ๐Ÿ˜›

  8. I too support Demonitisation and the agenda behind it despite minor planning glitches. I really salute those banking persons who had to work day and night. My friend who is a mother of a toddler is managing hard. Bad news is I lost my one and only 2000rs not. The bigger the denomination the bigger loss.

  9. I still haven’t had a chance to hold that Rs. 2000/- note. But I don’t like the colour too much either ๐Ÿ™‚
    But anyways, like you said, I completely support demonisation and I know it is going to be difficult for some days. Perhaps a few months.
    What I also loved about this is the way people have come together in reality and helping each other in spite if the negativity being spread on news and Twitter. Everyone is helping and no matter how hard and tough it is, the good side of people is coming out. That is a win in itself.
    Of course, there have been some cases when things have gone bad but that is again a people problem. Overall, though, I love how people are dealing with it with a smile and some humour in spite of having to stand in queues. That is the undeniable spirit of humans that I love and hope we see that every single day

  10. Oh yes, the demonetization drive. Overall it’s a great move but the implementation could be better. Like you l’ve not been that affected. And yes l will be venturing out today. ๐Ÿ˜Š Let’s see how that goes. And you’re right, it has shown us so many human lessons these past few days.

  11. Only you could have created such a good post out of the ordinary ๐Ÿ™‚
    I lived the side story about the exhausted bank employee. It is so easy to forget the efforts of those who serve and to vent our frustration on them (e.g. airport employees after a delay or worse). Really liked this post.

  12. I have been affected slightly because usually I do not deal in cash except for payment to the maid and the car cleaner. I do almost all my transactions using cards. But my family in Delhi, they are troubled and hassled as there is a wedding next week and both the groom’s and bride’s side are grappling witn cask crunch and bank queues. Inspite of all the troubles, they wholeheartedly support demonitisation and the hope for a cleaner system.

    1. Yes I do believe the effect has been different on different people. The cash crunch during festive or other occasions can be a real drawback. I’m glad to hear that they support the move. I do too ๐Ÿ™‚

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