8th November 2016.
The Tuesday it happened I was on emergency duty. I got to know about it through a twitter DM.
Otherwise I had no clue about what was happening .
Living in a small town in West Bengal, the news got me in total panic.
How the hell would I pay the neighbourhood vegetable-seller? The fish-seller? The grocery-man, Partha da? I had to compulsorily keep some cash for daily needs, most of which were declared useless.
There are no Ola or similar services here. What works as transport in the town are cycle rickshaws. Those which are running from prehistoric times, inhumanly pulled by hands. They are but a source of income for the poverty stricken, illiterate, unskilled millions in the suburbs. How was I supposed to pay these people with a debit card?
In the suburbs there are few ATMs and no apps for transportation, food or grocery.
I wondered whether our honourable Prime Minister remembered this about his grassroots! India’s grassroots.
Next day, both I and my hubby had our duty at the hospital. After all, it was the middle of the week.
When would we go to the bank and get some extra cash? When would we change the few banned notes? These thoughts worried me with each passing moment.
By the evening I was making frantic phone calls to my husband, who was still at the hospital for his rounds.
As usual he refused to panic. But I was on no mood to calm down. However, the explanation he offered for all the possible reasons behind this sounded very real.
We decided to visit the bank a few days later. Till then no shopping for fresh food.
Rice and pulses had to be the staple.
Or you enter the buying on credit trap.
That’s something I hate. My father had a family-destroying, losing-the-roof-over-your-head kind of debt. And so I hate credit cards. Using debit cards feel much safer.
But then, what about the debit card fiasco that had struck the banks only few days before? How come everyone is being asked to use the very services which were shockingly compromised?
Well, do we have any option other than to wait and watch?
Big changes are always difficult. Birthing pains are also painful. So birth of a new idea and way of functioning will perhaps have its share of troubles. I am willing to have rice and pulses till the cash flow normalises. That’s the least I can do.
But then, did anyone ever try to buy stuff with plastic money in a village or small town India? What was the experience? Is that a feasible option? Does that at all happen? What’s the alternative there? Wish I could know. Maybe someone would tell me after reading my story!