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Friday, November 11, 2016

Chp 632. Demonetization of 500 and 1000

Two days ago, the Govt of India dictated a very bold and surprising move -  the demonetization of Rs. 500 and Rs. 1000 notes!

This was an enormous decision on the Government’s part to combat “black money”. Now all of us have seen enough WhatsApp forwards and news articles and op-ed pieces regarding this action, so I am not getting into the details of it. But this is indeed a very huge step that is affecting all of us.

As for me, I was working late in office, around 8:30 PM, when the news broke out. At first, it sounded like one of those WhatsApp hoaxes your technologically impaired friend would always forward without even attempting to verify if it’s true or not (we all have at least one such person in the different groups we’re in). But then seeing PM Modi announcing it LIVE on a news website portal confirmed how true it was.

I panicked. Not because I have any black money (hell, I don’t even have enough white money), but I knew at once that it was going to be chaotic at the banks where every citizen would be storming to exchange/deposit their 500 and 1000 rupee notes. I could already imagine how long the queues would be.

I wasn’t going to have any of that shit, especially since I had so much work in office.

And so, my friends and I decided to spend all the 500 and 1000 notes we had before the midnight deadline was up!

I had just one 500-rupee note in my wallet :D but like most people, I had some "emergency cash" stashed up in my apartment, just for a rainy day, like what if there was a total bandh or a sudden flood or the Apocalypse happened, you know, normal stuff that could happen any day.

My colleagues took me home and I dug out my hidden stash.

And so, there I was with 13 notes of Rs. 500 that were about to become defunct in the next few hours.

It was already 9:30 PM, most of the shops had closed, and so we rushed to the nearest store that was still open.

And by a big stroke of luck, it happened to be a Wine Shop :D :P

News travelled really fast, and the wine shop owner was already aware of the demonetization announcement. He asked us how many 500 and 1000 notes we had. I told him I had Rs. 6500. We didn’t want to buy so many bottles of different alcohol and so decided to buy just 1 or 2 bottles of something that was a bit expensive. My friends bought Baileys and JDs. I went for the Jägermeister (4400) and two Captain Morgans (2100) which came to exactly 6500 bucks.

Now I never thought I would ever buy a bottle of Jägermeister in my life. I guess demonetize times call for demonetize measures :P

This coming weekend, I am so gonna make a Jägerbomb! :)

Demonetizing the 500 and 1000 notes definitely generated a great amount of noise in social media. Some supported it, others criticized it, others forwarded jokes related to it, and most people were just forwarding information after information regarding what to do, how to do, when to do etc etc. People actually forgot about the ongoing American election.

Not to mention WhatsApp groups and messages, I was also bombarded by the many apps I have installed on my phone, with many grabbing this occasion to take as much advantage as possible. Box8 pushed its customers to make online payment…

Food Panda too immediately offered discounts on online payment.

Faasos on the other hand, I guess, was trying to cash in on both the demonetization and the American election result :D

And ugggh of course the numerous spam push notification from various ecom apps like Jabong, Amazon, Flipkart, Snapdeal etc were there as well.

Not to mention the push notifications from transportation apps like Ola, Uber, Meru etc

In the midst of all this chaos, I listened to the many issues many of my friends, especially those in Mizoram were facing. With 500 and 1000 notes now considered invalid and with ATMS still not operational across the country (hopefully, they will start working from today or tomorrow), a lot of people went through a tough time.

Like for example, in Mizoram, yesterday, people stood for hours at the bank to exchange or deposit notes. And then they found out that only those who had opened an account in that specific branch were allowed to deposit money. Apart from that, the limit people were allowed to exchange was just one 1000-rupee note (or two 500 notes)! I can imagine how difficult it must be for the common man, especially in Mizoram where most people don’t use plastics.

In a way, I guess I consider myself really fortunate to live in a plastic world. Because of my debit and credit cards, life is still the same for me. I had around 600 rupees in loose change of 100s, 50s and 10s in my wallet after buying the Jägermeister that night, and today, Day 3 of demonetization, I still have around that much.

To go to office, I simply pay using Ola Money if I’m taking an Ola auto or Ola cab. And I already have my Uber account linked to my credit card, so no hassles there as well when it comes to commuting between work and home.

For cigarettes, bread, milk, diet cokes, bisleri etc that I require daily, the General Store below my apartment accepts debit card payment, so taking a puff is just a swipe away.

And for the basic necessities, like vegetables, rice, cooking oil, processed meat, I shop at Nature’s Basket, which is just 10 minutes walking distance from my home, where I don’t even have to pay using my cards because I have these!

Yeah, suddenly my Sodexo passes feel so valuable right now! lolz.

And when it comes to eating lunch or dinner in the office cafeteria, I usually order from Zomato, where I not only have options to pay via debit or credit cards but also through many wallet options like Paytm, PayUmoney, Mobikwik and FreeCharge.

Like for example, this is what I ordered yesterday for lunch (can anyone see the special cooking instructions I requested? :D "Lungtat" is underlined in red because my keypad didn’t recognize it as an English word, lolz).

Zomato had discontinued COD payment option for now because of this demonetization process, but I wasn’t planning on paying by cash anyway.

What I love about Zomato is that, apart from all the different online payment options they offer, I also have a lot of Zomato Credits left that I could spend.

I have accumulated a lot of Zomato Credits because I am a regular customer, and every time there are inconveniences caused to me, like late delivery or wrong order etc, Zomato gifts me some credits lest they lose a valuable customer :)

Finally, the time has come to cash in on all those credits :)

Like I said, I feel lucky to be unaffected by the current situation so far, but I do hope things get better for other people too, especially the daily laborers and people who do not have Aadhar or PAN cards. And based on all the information people have been forwarding, I think this is a storm that will pass by quickly, bringing in a new era of corruption free society (well at least that’s what people are claiming it will do). Let’s not forget that this is a big landmark in our Indian history, and in a way, I feel lucky to be living right in the middle of it. I don’t think we’ll ever see another demonetization of this scale in our lifetime again.

So cheers to you all for now, and hope the ATMs start functioning again soon!

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