The Great Bank Note Exchange

It’s not every day that my father gives me a torn Rs. 2000 note and asks me to get it exchanged. In an attempt to be the ideal dutiful son, I agree.

It’s not every day that I walk into a public sector bank branch and ask the lady at the “May I help you?” counter for help. It’s funny how the people sitting at such counters never seem to be in a helpful mood.

It’s not every day that I wait patiently in line, only to be told by the cashier that she can’t exchange torn bank notes. Oddly, what she said seemed to be at odds with what my Google search results were telling me.

It’s not every day that I patiently try to explain RBI guidelines to an impatient middle-aged lady manning the cash counter in a crowded public sector bank branch. Or at least that’s what I tried to do, until she politely asked me to fuck off instead of holding up the queue.

It’s not every day that I ask the “May I help you?” lady if I can meet the bank branch manager. “Oh yes, I insist. I want to meet the manager now.” She gives me an ugly look and storms off, to summon the ever-elusive bank manager.

It’s not every day that Ms. Bank Manager is summoned in the middle of a lazy afternoon by a sweaty, but angry young man. She manages to make that very clear. She refuses to exchange my torn bank notes and proceeds to interrogate me much to the amusement of the other people in the bank:

Bank Manager:
'There seems to be something wrong with this note.
It seems to be fake.'
(holding it up against the light,
in an effort to see Gandhiji better)

Me: .....

Bank Manager: 'Where did you get this note from?'

Me: 'My father got it from an HDFC bank ATM.'

Bank Manager: 'Then why don't you go exchange it
at HDFC Bank? Do you have an account there?'

Me: 'No, I have an Axis Bank account.'

Bank Manager: 'It's not every day that big
private bank customers walk into a humble bank
branch like ours to exchange torn notes'

It’s not everyday that I find myself losing my temper, but I think it’s only natural to do so when someone mocks you in front of an entire bank branch. I try bringing up the RBI guidelines again, in an attempt to enlighten the bank manager, in a scene straight out of those irritating Idea! internet advertisements.

It’s not every day that Ms. Bank Manager has to say ‘No!’ twice before someone gets it. But this was definitely one of those days.

Me:
'Ma'am, in that case, may I have your name?'

Bank Manager:
'Why do you need that for?'

Me:
'I'll need it for the complaint that I'll be writing
to the RBI. And ma'am, I'm pretty sure that I can
find your name online anyway. Have a nice day!'

Bank Manager:
'Wait a minute! If you have valid ID proof, you
can exchange your bank note here. No need for any
complaint business!'

Like I said… It’s not every day that my father gives me a torn Rs. 2000 note and asks me to get it exchanged.

Q&A

The funny thing about memories is that they tend to fade away until you’re often left with little more than a feeling. Feelings stay with you forever, especially regret.
 
Being a quizzer, I’ve come to enjoy the glorious uncertainty that comes with hazarding a guess while you’re on the buzzer. I’ve experienced both the elation that comes with getting it right as well as the dejection that accompanies a wrong answer.
 
Ask any quizzer and they’ll tell you that the worst feeling is when you think know the answer to a question. You can feel it coming. It’s right at the tip of your tongue. You start explaining the answer. The quiz-master starts nodding his head, because you’re going in the right direction but then you see dismay on his face. You were unable to give him the answer that he was looking for. As much as he wants to award you points, he can’t because there are other people waiting with the correct answer.
 
I can still recollect the feeling of helplessness that engulfed me when my parents asked me who she was. They say that mothers know everything about you. If so, I wouldn’t have been asked this question at all. It was a sitter, way too easy. And the worst part was that I wasn’t prepared for this question. Deep down inside, I knew the answer though. I tried my best to put it into words but couldn’t do so properly. In the end, all that I managed to say was that I needed to talk to her, and that it was extremely important for me to do so. Unfortunately that wasn’t the answer that my parents were looking for.
 
Almost five years have passed since, and I don’t think I can answer that question any better now. I just hope that they don’t throw the same question at me again.