Three Takes On ‘No Change!’

28384452797_7d56d2df63_nToday I’m feeling very light. In fact, very very light. Today I was finally able to take  off that burden from me. Let me be specific. A huge pile of coins had accumulated and it was indeed getting more and more difficult to store them. Of course, I couldn’t keep them in my wallet nor in the pocket of my trousers. For some time I kept them in my bag, but the load kept increasing. Have you seen the calendars sold during Dussera and Diwali? You remember that pile of gold coins in front of Lakshmi ji? Same thing here. I segregated them into smaller piles of Rs 5, Rs 10 and Rs 2 coins and put them in different boxes. Once I discussed this problem with a local shopkeeper and he happily agreed to change them with notes. So today I got rid of all the coins.

But at the same time, the decision to exchange that stock of coins was not an easy one. Who knows, one fine morning Modi kaka wakes up and decides to bring a coinbandi? But in that case, there would also be a lot of uncertainty. How would we know which coins would Modi kaka decide to ban? Just in case if I end up storing the wrong coins? So I decided that it was anyway best to get rid of the coins.

The shopkeeper was more than happy. I understand his emotions. Very often we see them run out of smaller notes and coins. In such cases, they have to just apologize, or ask you to settle it ‘the next time’. Or if he is kind, he would round it up towards the higher side and ask you to return the balance the next time. However, such instances of kindness are very rare.

As a customer, I have never been able to understand the logic behind weird prices of certain items, e.g., shoes. First, why are shoes priced at Rs 1999? I mean, if I can pay Rs 1999, then I would also not mind paying Rs. 2000 either. Here a discount of Re 1 is not an issue. The question is about paying more than the actual price of any item. In most of the cases, you don’t get that Re 1 back.

Second is the paleolithic system followed in offices and various departments. For example, my colleague told me that the library had fined him Rs. 10.20. I have already forgotten who was the prime minister of India when 20 paise coins were last seen in the market.  And now, as Modi kaka is preparing for another term in Dilli Darbar, we are still paying such currency, even if on paper.

That reminds me of the third question. Ladies and gentlemen, do you still offer Rs. 1.25 prasad to Hanuman ji on Tuesday? If yes, then how?

OK. Enough of autobiographical notes. Now some instances of this ‘no change’ scenario from popular culture. In two of these three takes, the protester follows the Gandhian philosophy of peaceful resistance, whereas in the third take, the protester prefers the path of the revolutionaries.

1- Nana Patekar wants his change! This is a scene from the movie Tum Milo To Sahi (2010). As is a common custom in most of the shops in our country, Nana Patekar is given a toffee simply because the lady at the payment desk doesn’t have change. Patekar protests with a simple argument — ‘Would you accept it if I too pay by giving some item instead of cash? Is barter still in practice today?’

2- The Silent IIT Delhi Boys. Had this incident taken place after 2010, when the movie ‘Tum Milo To Sahi‘ was released, I would have said that the boys got the inspiration from Nana Patekar. But to the best of my knowledge, the two instances are unrelated. What Nana Patekar experienced at the departmental store was a routine affair at one of the IITD canteens, and in fact several other canteens and shops all over the country. But boys are boys. They didn’t go the Nana Patekar way. Instead, they started collecting the toffees that the canteen man gave them. The next time when they went for tea or snacks, they used those toffees — two toffees for tea, 10 for sandwiches and so on. The canteen man couldn’t argue with them as he himself had started the trend, and had no choice but to accept the ‘payment’. So ladies and gentlemen, that was the first step towards a ‘cashless society’.

3- Tapas Paul is furious. Tapas Paul is now familiar to all Indians, for all the wrong reasons. One of his recent movies is 8:08er Bangaon Local (2012). This movie depicts how the conscience of a common man wakes up and how he stands up against the improper practices prevalent in society today.  The consequences are tragic. It is a good movie, and several thoughts worth pondering over are presented to the viewer.

In this scene, Paul demands that the shopkeeper gives him the balance 10 paise back – ‘I take this medicine twice a week, that means 80 paise per month, or Rs 9.60 per year.’
The shopkeeper doesn’t give and argues – ‘Where would I get a 10 paise now?’
On that, Paul’s simple question is — ‘Why then the medicine is priced in such a way? Call the company and ask it. I am waiting here.’

After a short quarrel, the angry shopkeeper throws off the packet of medicines. Now Paul wants a complete refund.

Now it is your turn friends. Tell me, before the credit card came, how did you react when faced with a ‘Sorry, No Change!’ from a shopkeeper? Did you take the toffee or paid a rounded up higher price? Or did you create a scene? In the digital era, how do you pay for your shopping?

For other articles in this series, click here.

photo credit: Andrew Gustar Horde via photopin (license)


14 thoughts on “Three Takes On ‘No Change!’

  1. Learnography

    Price of Rs 1999 is based on the emotional markers of our brain. Re 1 is never returned. You have discovered a new word “Coinbandi”. Thanks for the writing.

    1. Amit Misra Post author

      Is it something like — the brain interprets it as “one thousand…” not considering how far away the number is from 1000. In other words, 1999 is interpreted as ‘One thousand something’ and 2001 as ‘Two thousand something’. The amount thus becomes Rs 1000 less already. Is it like that?

      Ah! You noticed the coinage of the new word ‘Coinbandi’ 😀

  2. Gleefulblogger

    This 999 or 1999 was hilarious when it launched. We learned it in Marketing class, on how to play with buyer’s sentiment. Lol… but today things have taken a notch higher. Interesting topic.

      1. Gleefulblogger

        I remember one of our great consumer behaviour professor’s telling us – if you don’t hit the cord of sentiments, your have not done your job properly.
        But on the hibdsight, things now have taken an ugly turn. And everything has become ‘sold’.

  3. Rupali

    Our society is not serious about serious topics in our lives they spend more time on faltu forwarded messages that is the problem.
    The D-mart where we do regular shopping has started giving proper change to my husband irrespective of who is at the counter.
    BTW, i like this “Modi kaka”.

  4. Dipali Bhasin

    I have loved this post and the insertion of the movie snippets makes the reading experience more interesting and humorous too. I have never argued where the toffees are concerned. Instead, I give it to the first child I meet.

  5. Pingback: Three Takes On ‘The Artist In You’ | Pradyot

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