Notes to self

Here is how people are dealing with demonetisation in urban Bengaluru

Never have we worried, suffered, panicked, joked about, turned resourceful, fretted over, mourned about money this way before. While we accept that it has been hard for us there are many, specially in urban India, who are taking it on the chin with a mixture of bravado, submission and humour. A look at five ways Bengalureans are facing up....

Jokes, memes, selfies

Puns, poems, cartoons, YouTube spoofs, Modi Antoinette jokes, Mallya jokes -- Whatsapp and Facebook are going crazy with them. Selfies at bank lines waiting for money and with new notes, are flooding social media. Trolls haven’t had it better; it’s party time as heated exchanges, and shaming have touched a new high. Vidya Balan and her Bhool Bhulaiya avatar has become the face of the harassed banker. Live stand-up comedy acts with the demonetisation theme are sold out.

Frugal living

Many have realised that we can live with a lot less than we imagine. No better time than now to go minimalist. Scheduling and planning has got better. Some of the fun has been taken out of life, as have the luxuries — travel plans have been cancelled and casual “timepass” trips to the mall and restaurant reduced. There is a sense of restraint, caution, and even fear. Some are willingly admitting and philosophising that they are not feeling the pinch. This, many believe is easier than standing in endless queues at the bank/ATM.


The crisis surely has brought out a generous spirit in people. Small, friendly neighbourhood shops have been hit hard. To regular customers whom they trust, they are willing to give credit - “buy now pay later” is not so uncommon. People have put up shelters for those standing in bank queues, volunteer groups are offering to help fill out forms, supply food and water.

People are willing to forgo the small change if you don’t have it. Many have appealed publicly, and others have gone ahead to help their maids and household help with cash advances to get by till “things settle down”. People who have managed to get/withdraw/exchange money have been generous enough to help those in need. Even those who we believe have nothing have been generous with whatever little they have — like the cook who offered money to the cash-strapped employer.

Schemes, panic buys and hoarding

Suddenly there are offers galore. Banks are asking you to open short term deposits. Stores and eateries are willing to accept the old notes if you eat for a minimum amount. Some are giving credit notes, which can be exchanged later. Then there are the panic buys with stories of stores that have remained open late for people doing “large buys” and your friend’s tale of the man who bought 15 pairs of high-end spectacles to get rid of old notes.

Pooling resources

Going cashless has been easy for the urban card-toting individual.

Everyone has loaded their e-wallets, and are swiping their cards furiously. Stores have been willing to accept card for the tiniest sums. The sweet shop was willing to accept card for two burfis! Wherever there is a minimum order required to pay the old Rs. 500 or Rs. 1000 off, colleagues, friends, neighbours are pooling in to meet the order numbers to get rid of notes the non-bank way. Bartering supplies and groceries in apartment complexes and among neighbours has been the flavour of the week.

Companies ranging from your online grocery store to the taxi aggregator, to the food delivery service have never been so aggressive in pointing out in how you can get by “cashless”. Offers of “I O U” are taking on a whole new dimension. Online pharmacies are offering discounts where you place bulk orders and you can pay with the old currency.

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Printable version | Feb 25, 2020 7:15:15 PM |

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