Chillar please!

Shalini B

“Money, money, money, it’s really funny…” sang the popular band ABBA in the 1970s. Money really is funny. While ABBA was singing about the big money, my thoughts are occupied more with the small change or chillar. Ever since I started commuting by bus to the office, I find myself thinking, eating, and sleeping (small) money.

If you travel by RTC buses and have to face grouchy conductors every day you can perhaps understand my anxiety about small change. I am beginning to realize that chillar is the most important but also the most elusive object in daily business transactions. Everybody asks for change and nobody has any to give. You go to the kirana store next door to buy your pulses, the store owner doesn’t have change. You take an auto to your destination, the auto driver doesn’t have change. You buy your fruits from the fruit seller, he doesn’t have change. You go to the supermarket to buy your health drink, and they don’t have change. You go to the post office to send a parcel, they don’t have change either. And can you believe it? Even the bank doesn’t have any change! We went to the bank yesterday to deposit a subscription amount (which is Rs. 475 a year). We took a 500 rupee note and the bank returned us two really soiled 10 rupee notes and a torn 5 rupee note. When we objected, they told us (yes, you are right) they didn’t have change! So, you see, as a person at the other end of the spectrum you are somehow supposed to have with you a treasure trove of small change because everyone asks change from you but you will not get any from anyone.

So this is my problem. I spend a lot of time wondering where I should make some money from. I have had a lot of conflicts with many a bus conductor because of my inability to produce change. Once when I gave a 10 rupee note for a 6 rupee ticket, a conductor actually made me get down at the next stop! Are they even allowed to do that?

There is this other bus conductor in a bus that I often get into to come to office. This conductor for some reason hates me and I him. He accepts 10 rupee notes from everyone, except me! We always have a verbal duel over producing the exact change. Why does he always pick on me? I steer clear of Bus no. 25 S these days.

Another time I did not have the exact change, the conductor said people who don’t have the exact ticket amount shouldn’t get into buses. He went on to tell me that if I had the bigger notes then perhaps an auto was the mode of transportation for me. Apparently he has to give change to more than a 100 people daily and I needed to keep the exact change only for the four buses that I had to take to and from office. But what about the vegetable vendor, the fruit seller, the kirana store, and the supermarket? They all want a share of my small change. The conductor shouted back and asked me to find a solution to the problem then. So far I have come up with three – strike a deal with a beggar (somehow people always seem to find coins in their wallets to give beggars), make friends with a temple pujari and cajole him to part with small change for big notes, talk to the RBI about installing coin vending machines across the country, which will spill out coins when we put in notes.

If any of you have any more solutions, then you know how to get in touch with me.