Mom and I have come to my material uncle’s house in Allahabad on the occasion of Kali Puja and Diwali. We were scheduled to return home after Bhaiphonta or Bhai Dooj. But, my grandfather (Dadu) and uncle (Mama) had to be hospitalised on the eve of Kali Puja. Both were suffering for sometime and they became very serious on the day we went to Maihar. The same night we had to admit them to the hospital. Although my Dadu was discharged from the hospital after a few days, but mama’s condition was critical. He was in ICU for long time. So, we had to postpone our return journey. Mama was discharged yesterday from the hospital.
On the evening of November 8, Prime Minister Narendra Modi demonetised all 500 and 1000 rupee notes with immediate effect. All Banks and ATMs were closed on November 9 to make necessary arrangements. ATMs reopened today and are only dispensing notes worth 2000 rupees. We came to Allahabad on a short trip with return ticket booked and itinerary planned and finalised. We didn’t carry much cash or cheque books. We had our debit cards to meet cash requirements, but now we just got stuck with little cash. I am returning today. Mom returned yesterday with Dadu. In short notice, we couldn’t get tickets to travel on the same day.
Today, I went to ATM for cash I need for my journey expenses. OMG! What a rush at the ATMs. It seems people are on assault – dhava bol diya, as we say in Hindi. Every ATM has a big queue. HDFC ATM was better with 25-30 people standing in an orderly queue. But, there was a chaos at the ATM of State Bank of India. Obviously the news of demonetisation has caused a panic among people and everyone wants to get 100 rupee notes. Many ATMs are already dry and bank people are at stress to meet the demands. At places, banks called in police or closed down for the day to cope with the rush of customers.
This situation is same everywhere. My mom said that she went to an ATM at Kolkata for cash. She also had to stand in the queue for long time.
I went to the Chowk market to buy some items that my mom asked me. By the time I reached there, there was a raid by Income Tax authorities. They chased the customers out to close down the shops. It’s all mess everywhere. Everyone seems to be confused. I went to a sweet shop to buy some sweets. The shop owner accepted 500 rupee note for sweets worth 450 rupees and 10 percent was his exchange fee!! He is trying to make some fast bucks encashing the situation.
The sudden demonetisation to prevent corruption and fake currency notes has caused confusion and people are behaving strange. I hope that the situation gets normal soon. We have to get adjusted to it anyway. This is the third time that high-value currency notes are demonetised in India. The first time it was done in 1946.