Demonetisation came as a big jolt to me, at a time I could have least expected it. I was travelling and my worry was more about what would happen to all my notes I have been hoarding for long.
8th November 2016, it was night ten past ten. The flight hit the runway with a thud at the Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport and was jerking awake the sleepy passengers all the way like an auto-ride on Lakeview road back home at chennai. ‘....You are free to use your mobile phones now, but keep your seat belts fastened until the plane comes to a complete halt. Please remember to take your belongings from the seat pocket’, announced the flight attendant into her hand-held phone. I pulled out from the seat pocket in front of me, the printout of my ticket on the back of which I had scribbled down many of my random thoughts in my hardly-decipherable handwriting, folded it carefully as though it were some precious thing and pushed into my shirt packet. Yes, I had jotted down some thoughts on a recent experience with a cabbie that affected me deeply. And I must say it is my wont to scribble my thoughts like this on every piece of paper I find.
Let me get back to my story. I pulled out my MotoG and powered it on. As the Samsungs and iphones around me got alive instantly and were beeping and pouring out all their three-hours of pent-up messages like a loyal pet on master’s return, my mobile was still struggling to find its signal. I could hear someone yelling, ‘hei, this can’t be true yaaar’ looking at his mobile. Another was speculating that ensuing elections could be the reason. As I was trying to make out what they they all talking about, the watsup messages in my phone were also cryptic: ‘the media prepared for Trump; Modi came out of syllabus’; ‘America counting votes; India counting notes’. As I moved up to the earlier ones sent, it started making sense to me; all the messages starting from eight pm had just one theme – deometisation.
I opened my wallet, Gandhiji was smiling at my spate, from ten pieces of atm-fresh 500s that I had drawn that morning and stuffed into my wallet. I remembered how quickly I brushed aside the thought: why no 100s at all. As I was wondering how I would push the next four days at Kolkata without any valid notes in my wallet, another thought stuck me. Notes- what will happen to all my notes at home. Come to think of it, they are lying in bits and pieces in every nook and corner of my home and some of them in my office too. You will find them hidden in my books and diaries or even the old newspapers. I have been thinking converting all my notes and moving them into digital for some time, but I knew it was a monumental task; I have not even kept track of them and would not be able to provide a coherent account.
My wife had given a warning threat to me as I was leaving home in the evening. I am going to throw out all these old magazines and books to radhiwala. Though she is a cleanliness freak, this was something she has been putting up with. May be, she is running out of patience now. Does she know the real value buried inside each of them? If only she would try to skim though and get all those notes stuffed inside. Would she care to do it? Why not call her and tell her openly all about it? But somehow, my prestige stopped me from doing that.
Somehow I managed the next four days with the help of plastic money and some friends, and returned home on Saturday. First thing I did, after clearing my packet of all my paraphernalia on my desk, was to rush to the room to ensure my precious notes are untouched. Oh what a relief, everything was intact, the way I left them.
‘Can I clear your desk of these papers and throw them in trash?’ shouted my wife from the hall.
‘oh no, why are you in such a hurry?’ I rushed to salvage all the Notes I have made on the air ticket printout and on other bits of paper during my four days sojourn at Kolkata.
I opened my laptop with a strong determination. Yes, I am going to digitise all my notes right away- right from today.