Yesterday, I dared. I dared to go to my nearby bank to exchange a couple of our redundant 500 and 1000 rupee notes. It was the tenth day of note ban in India and our government had again come up with a new twist. Each Indian could exchange upto 2000 rupees old notes.
As I approached our market which had two renowned private banks, I saw alarming long queues. I went to one of the banks where there were 3 queues – one for withdrawal, one for depositing and the last one for exchange. So all in all there were about 100 people already ahead of me in different queues. I was daunted yet I was adamant, I would get my dear old notes changed. Because I had come after quite a time and all those who needed to interact with the banks or ATMs more than me had perhaps already done it by so far.
In the exchange line, there were almost 15-18 people ahead of me. Soon I learnt some tokens had been distributed for the day’s operations. There were policemen and bank’s guards who soon dismantled my line. Except 2-3 in the beginning of that line, nobody had token and we were told to go away. A constable dismissed almost 12 guys in front and they went without any protest or trying for their right or effort. One particular guy looked like a drug addict who had just wandered into the line. (Now we know what kind of people are standing in those long queues and how is India converting its black-money).
When my turn came, I refused to budge and put up my journalistic arguments. Some officers from the bank came outside and tried to argue with me turn by turn. But soon they learnt (no I had not disclosed them my profession) that I was a tough nut to crack. Soon some other dissenting women were put behind me and a woman’s line was formed.
I went inside the bank, things were yet tough for me. I saw few officers attending calls of people they knew and talks were going on to help out them. A few other ladies who were behind me were also allowed inside and finally they told us notes worth of 1000 would be only exchanged as there was a shortage of cash. We agreed. And I got my two old currency 500 rupee notes exchanged. By the way, like most Indians, I was also attached to the magnificent and much better designed 500 & 1000 rupee old notes!