Tuesday 22 November 2016

How many queues must a man wait in?

At a concert on Saturday, our Prime Minister quoted words of protest written by a certain Robert Zimmerman back in 1963. That reminded us of this more contemporary work by Balbir ‘Bobby’ Dhillon, who owns Noble Lorry 8 Pvt. Ltd. (‘We have no brunches’) and writes a bit while he’s waiting in line to withdraw cash to pay his drivers.

Come gather ’round people
It’s not time to roam
While you whined the lines
Around you have grown
Just accept it that soon
You’ll be tir’d to the bone
If your savin’s to you are worth drawin’
Then you better start queuin’ or you’ll be all alone
For the notes they are a-changin’

Pressti …wallas and critics
Who editorialise often
Do keep your eyes wide
We’ll change the rules again
So don’t speak at all
You can’t counter my spin
Here’s one more RBI notification!
Don’t try to figure it, you just can’t win
Hah! The notes they are a-changin’

You UPA Congressis
Don’t get it all
I’ll use your best schemes
And rename them all
I’m sure it must hurt
To hear all my trolls
Being ‘offended’ and ‘hurt’ and ‘outragin’’
And while you’re trying to figure it all
The notes I will be a-changin’

Grand-mothers and -fathers
A separate queue for you
And ’cause I sympathise
Take Saturday too
Your sons and your daughters
They will have to stand
Out on the road slowly agin’
Yes it’s your money, yes I understand
But the notes they are a-changin’

The line it is long
Do have a blast
The slow queue now
Will never be fast
You resent me now
I am aghast
Is your nationalism fadin’?
Alas your cash stash is now ballast
’Cause the notes they are a-changin’

Sunday 20 November 2016

One Art

(May the shade of Elizabeth Bishop forgive me)

Mitron, brownnosing isn’t hard to master;
just say (and again) how good was the intent,
never mind that it looks like a disaster.

Praise something every day. And drink gaumutra.
Hours in queues are never badly spent;
patriots never doubt the lord and master.

Then practice cleaning farther. Like the taste, eh?
Remember the soldiers freezing in their tents!
Say that to all who call this a disaster.

Keep Mother India swachch. Don’t think! Sweep faster!
So much easier than teaching civic sense;
yes, this art is a fine and good one master.

How can you doubt him? Traitor, go eat pasta!
To Italy — no, Pakistan — you’ll be sent
for implying that this is a disaster.

No, don’t think of the economy (we aren’t)
and don’t think of your money that you can’t spend.
Mitron, brownnosing isn’t hard to master;
Just remember (Write it!) it’s no disaster.

Sunday 13 November 2016

Achche Din

I was chatting with my neighbourhood kiranwala. After telling me how tough it was to manage his 'rolling' cash, he told me this story.

One of the people he deals with, a wholesaler in the Govandi area, one of the poorest sections of Bombay, saw that many of the disadvantaged who live there — particularly those without bank accounts and proper ID — were literally doing without food because the kind of grocery shops and hole-in-the-wall eating houses they would buy from wouldn't take their under-the-mattress money. So this guy mobilised his network of partners and supplier and arranged to get whatever sub-500 notes he could. He then exchanged these with the people of the area, taking a 10% margin on average.

He disbursed Rs 25 lakh in a day and made a tidy 2.5 lakh profit.

Mera numbering system mahaan

If we insist on using the Indian numbering system, why stop at crore and wind up with clumsy stuff like three lakh crore? There are legit larger number names: arab, kharab, neel, padma, shankh.

1,00,00,00,000 = Arab (instead of one hundred crore)

1,00,00,00,00,000 = Kharab (instead of ten thousand crore)

1,00,00,00,00,00,000 = Neel (instead of ten lakh crore)

1,00,00,00,00,00,00,000 = Padma (instead of ten crore crore)

1,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,000 = Shankh (instead of ten thousand crore crore)

Or to put it another way:

Arab = billion

Kharab = hundred billion

(Ten kharab = trillion)

Neel = ten trillion

Padma = quadrillion

Shankh = hundred quadrillion

Saturday 12 November 2016


Praising the demonetisation and calling it a surgical strike sounds dead wrong to me. It sounds like whoever said that doesn't understand either surgery or warfare. Any surgery that did this much damage to the body would be grounds for a medical malpractice suit.

What it is is a dirty bomb. or rather an atom bomb. Deals the 'enemy' a serious blow, may even give you victory, but look at the huge 'collateral damage.'

Friday 11 November 2016

Go well, Leonard Cohen

"Well Marianne it's come to this time when we are really so old and our bodies are falling apart and I think I will follow you very soon. Know that I am so close behind you that if you stretch out your hand, I think you can reach mine. And you know that I've always loved you for your beauty and your wisdom, but I don't need to say anything more about that because you know all about that. But now, I just want to wish you a very good journey. Goodbye old friend. Endless love, see you down the road."

An idea of America

There's this idea of America I've had, which I'm now wondering about. That this … abstraction was always well-intentioned. One could disagree with this abstraction, not like some things it did, find it often patronising, often clueless, too often convinced of its own solutions. But there was the feeling that it meant well.
That sense of America has taken a bit of a beating the last couple of days.

Wednesday 9 November 2016

Overheard in the bank queue

What is the difference between all of us wanting our own cash in our hands and a light bulb?
A light bulb can be unscrewed.

Gandhi: Be the change you want to see
*All Indians turn into 100-rupee notes*

What is the effect of demonetisation on journalists doing what is the effect of demonetisation stories?



I think I know why this government disbanded the Planning Commission. They have no idea what planning means.

India edition of Monopoly. You give all your currency to the bank and then nobody moves.
(The new American edition is now called Diplomacy, and its based on where the president has hotels all around the world.)

Cashless is broke

"He was throwing money around like a BJP insider at a ladies bar on the 8th of November."

People: We can't buy bread!
M. Antoinette: Here, take laddoo.

All over India, they wander, searching; gaunt, emaciated, eyes full of pain. The bhatakti hui atm.

Bhagwan aapki ATM ko shanti de

Clear out your browser. We need a cacheless economy.

₹1000 Na Milega Dobara
Cashmir Ki Kali
Hum Bill De Chuke Sanam
₹1000? O Khwaishein Aisi
Pink (no, heheh, change required)
Kab Tak, Chhappan?
Cheque De, India!
Bungle BanDe
mahATMa gandhi, a film by rich aatanna baro
(More from friends)

(One Art, with apologies to Elizabeth Bishop)
(A-changin', with apologies to Bob Dylan)