How my money became worthless overnight

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whatsapp-image-2016-11-12-at-18-37-15Probably some of you might have read the news and are informed that India woke up at November 9 with a sudden fact that Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced demonetization of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 currency notes,  making these notes invalid in a major assault on black money, fake currency and corruption. Modi said the notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 β€œwill not be legal” and these will be β€œjust worthless piece of paper.”

I woke up at 10 am that day and after reading a few messages from people I know in India, I discovered I was poor. I got my salary recently and I have it in cash. And it’s all in Rs 500 currency notes… So everything I had that morning was worthless. To make the situation worse, banks were closed that day and ATMs weren’t working. People could start changing money from November 11, which meant 2 more days without money. My friends I live together with were in the same situation. We were really lucky to have food in our fridge…. Otherwise we wouldn’t be able to buy any food.

So we survived for 2 days and November 11 came. Unfortunately it didn’t mean that I could go to the bank with all my money and change it to valid notes. Every person has Rs 4000 limit that one can change. I didn’t even want to count how many days it will take me to change and validate my money…

The bank is right next to our house and I was quite lucky when I went there. People were standing in two lines – men and women separately. Another reason to be happy that I’m a woman as that line was ten times shorter than men’s one. No matter how much I hate Indians for classifying people, this time I forgave them after getting into the bank without standing in the line. The first day of money changing went really smoothly and I felt that there was actually no need to panic or worry. How much I was wrong….

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On November 12 I felt no stress and honestly, now I can tell that I was light minded. I thought to have breakfast after I change my Rs 4000 in the same bank. I planned to go to the market afterwards to buy light breakfast. I went out and discovered a much bigger line than yesterday so I stood at the end of the queue. After doing a small talk with a police officer I understood that today my politeness wasn’t working and nobody was going to take me without standing in the line. Yes, people get spoilt easily! I wasn’t prepared. No breakfast, no water bottle with me, +30 degrees… I started to feel sick after 20 minutes. 

I got to talk with ladies who were in the line with me. One of them told me that she needed money as her son was sick with a virus and she needed to buy medicine. Another woman confide in me that she had made secret savings from her husband’s earnings for many years and now all her savings won’t be secret any more as he will see her bank account details. I asked whether her husband is going to be angry. She wasn’t sure but was really upset that her secret savings won’t be “secret” anymore. I was curious why she did need to put some money aside like that and she explained that she saved it for her children’s future and many of her friends did the same. Later on I read an article on the news, that there really are a lot of housewives who have made their secret savings from husband’s earnings. 

After exhaustive one hour in the line, almost fainting, I got inside the bank. When I went to change my money, the guy asked if I have changed the money here yesterday. He told the system didn’t allow him to change me the money as everyone’s allowed to do it only once in that specific bank (later on I found out that the limit is Rs 4000 per week, per person in one bank). I thought that I was dreaming and this was not happening… After standing in the line for one hour and feeling urgent need for food and water, I wasn’t ready to give up. I started to argue so the guy showed me where the “big boss” was sitting. Then I started to think loudly and said: “Do I really have to go and make a brawl?” I got immediate answer: “Yes, mam’, you do!” So I did. The Head of the bank tried to help me but after he discovered that system denied to change the money, I understood that I cannot fight the bank’s system and that I have to give up. I went home and tears rolled down my cheeks. And it wasn’t because I was desperate and my situation was miserable. After all, I already had Plan B, I always secure myself on time if something would happen. I was safe anyway. But I cried from anger!!! I came home, sat on my bed and just let the emotions out. But not for long! I was determined to win the situation. I knew another bank a couple streets ahead so I took my bag and went there. I didn’t have patience, nor the wish or any strength to spend at least another hour standing in the line. So I graciously jumped the line and went straight to the main person near the bank’s door. I made my cutest face and told him: “Sir, I’m going to miss my train if I stand in this line but I have no money at all, I cannot even buy food. Could you please let me in to change money?” I was escorted by one of his employees straight to the bank’s desk and got my valid Rs 4000 in 5 minutes. I went out of the bank and felt like a winner! India is giving me a lot of challenges all the time. India can beat me emotionally, I must admit. But She will never win the actual battle! I accept the challenges and I work them out! I celebrated with a lassi from the store next doors.

Is anyone in India now? Do you also have to cope with validating your money? I am curious to know your experience!


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3 Comments

  • Bobby says:

    haha lol in the end the story says, if you are a foreigner and know how to make a cute face,
    you end up being a winner πŸ˜€
    But for me it really hadn’t be even that easy… But this is all for a few days and indians are somehow gonna get through this crisis…
    In the end i would apologize for all the inconvenience you had to face Linda… but I am sure you will leave india with plenty of Amazing, beautiful and happy memories :))

    • Linda says:

      I know it sounds a bit nasty to play my foreigner’s role, but we all try to get through challenging situations.
      I hope this crisis won’t affect you much and you will also solve this situation very soon!

  • Aija says:

    Hahahaha, made a cute face πŸ˜€
    You didn’t tell me that you are almost starving, I am not reading news and didn’t know what is happening. πŸ™
    I am really sorry for those who are waiting int he line and need to by medicine for their kids, it’s terrible.