More than a month ago, I wrote my first blog post on demonetization, on how it was a very bold and enormous move on the government's part to combat black money. We were assured everything would be back to normal in a week or two. We're on day 40+ of demonetization now, and things don't seem to change much.
Till now I haven't withdrawn a single paise from the bank (ATM or counter) because the lines in front of the ATMs near my apartment or the two banks where I have an account - HDFC and ICICI, are always super long (with a "no cash" signboard put up most of the time). And so I would transfer money to my colleague's account at Kotak Mahindra Bank and he in turn would withdraw it for me because there are apparently no queues at that bank (other colleagues have also reported that there are no queues at Standard Chartered Banks).
But I couldn't keep doing that forever, asking him to withdraw for me especially with the weekly withdrawal limit that he too might want to utilize, and so last week I opened a new bank account with Kotak and shifted my salaried account from ICICI to Kotak. Bye bye ICICI.
And of course the government is now pushing people to go cashless, or use less cash. I for one had been following this rule obediently. I have been using my debit card even to purchase stuff like cigarettes and bisleri, my daily needs.
Before demonetization, on an average, I used my debit card around 10 times a month. Here is my one-month account statement, from 7th October to 7th November, just before the demonetization announcement.
And here is the next one month account statement, from 8th November to 8th December, right after demonetization.
The statement is 5 freaking pages long! That's how active I've been using my debit card. I will skip the middle pages and jump directly to the last page…
Yeah. 72 times I used my HDFC debit card in the first month after demonetization, compared to 9 times the previous month. I feel so patriotic now :)
But what really made me realize from these two comparison is, damn I'm a privileged asshole. I always thought I was a common man, an aam aadmi, a person from the middle class just struggling like everybody else, but now I know I'm freaking lucky enough not to be affected by the problems and difficulties demonetization is throwing on other people. What about the millions who don't have plastic or no internet access to pay through PayTM etc?
I really hope things get better soon. For country and for the people.
And oh, one more thing I have observed - debit card PIN numbers are no longer deemed personal or secretive. :D
Remember when you got your first debit card and then you received that sealed letter with your 4-digit secret PIN number? You would treasure that, making sure nobody could see what code you're entering as you punch in the numbers at the ATM machine. Those were some good times. All that is history now.
Today, with most people now using their debit cards, if you're standing in a packed shop and you give your card to the shopkeeper who goes to his counter to swipe it, and then he shouts "PIN number?" you have no other option but to shout out your PIN number for all the other customers who are also waiting with their cards to hear. The others too do the same! "4-5-1-2"… "7-9-1-0 bhaiya"… "3-7-1-4, uncle, 1-4, not 1-5"… "5-double-7-3 boss"…
Lolz, it felt so weird though :D
The general store below my apartment and a lot of other shops near my apartment all know my debit card PIN number now. And remember when we were told to switch off our mobile phones or not use them at petrol pumps? Now we are encouraged to use our phones (PayTM etc) at such places as much as possible. I guess in a way, such drastic changes are necessary. Whatever be the change required, I really hope the situation improves soon, especially for the common man.
Until next post then, cheers.