(Photo: The Quint/Chintamani Wagh)
| 8 min read

Meet Humans of India: Currency Ban Edition

Inspired by Brandon Stanton's Humans of New York project, The Quint is curating portraits of people from across India and their stories – in the time of the currency ban.

Here are quotes and reactions from some faces in the crowd.

 (Photo: The Quint/ Aaqib Raza Khan)
(Photo: The Quint/ Aaqib Raza Khan)

"I did engineering, and then started my own firm, dealing with biomedical education. I have just started and it's been a pretty smooth ride. Since I am usually going around to meet clients and potential partners, this currency ban has brought a different kind of inconvenience.

I was in Delhi two days ago. After finishing a meeting, I rushed to the nearest ATM to withdraw some cash. It took me two hours there. My business trips are now clearly segregated between meeting people, and standing in the line.

And here also in Goa, I can only go to places which accept credit or debit card, and they are somehow more expensive than their general roadside competition"

Do you think the currency ban will affect your business?

"No, no! Nobody stops spending on education. I am fine that way"

– Joji, Entrepreneur/ Tourist in Goa (Originally from Kerala)



(Photo: The Quint/ Aaqib Raza Khan)
(Photo: The Quint/ Aaqib Raza Khan)

"I have seen Goa of the 60s. It was beautiful. Now it's a concrete jungle. I think Modi did the right thing by curbing black money. I sincerely hope all of this leads to a better Goa, because most of the people are either drinking, smoking or doing drugs. Where's the money coming from? It's all black!

But man, do you know, the biggest fish that I caught was near Madgaon. It was 9 kilograms, and it's been 7 years since that happened"

Interesting sir, so why don't you go to that place again to fish?

"I can, and I do. But it's really rare to catch the big fishes. Mr. Modi should also understand that. Hah!"

– Paul Pinto, Part Time Fisherman, Full Time Restaurateur



(Photo: The Quint/ Aaqib Raza Khan)
(Photo: The Quint/ Aaqib Raza Khan)

"Do you want to try some really nice sea-food, alcohol, anything... here's the menu"

Your menu is in two languages. One's English, the other one is...

"Russian. It's because there a lot of Russian tourists here, and they don't understand much English, so we've made a separate section"

Are they still coming?

"Kahaan sir! It's so difficult to get tourists nowadays. We are even accepting the old 500 and 1000 rupee notes, because we've to run our business somehow. But still, no luck. People either have no money, or are carrying that Rs 2,000 note, for which it's difficult to get the change."

Can I take a photo of you?

"I don't like to get famous"

Kyun, hero nahin banna hai?

"Okay"

– Kishen Singh. Shack manager, Anjuna beach



(Photo: The Quint/ Aaqib Raza Khan)
(Photo: The Quint/ Aaqib Raza Khan)

"I am from Mandi, Himachal Pradesh, and it's just been three days since I joined this place. Even after being a relatively off-season there, I was seeing more tourists than I am seeing here in the touristy season. Maybe, it's because of the currency change. I don't know how will I manage"

So, you didn't stand in the queue to get your money?

"No, not yet. Paisa hoga, tab jaunga na, I don't have any cash with me. Whatever is in the bank is already there. I am just hoping that this mess gets sorted soon, otherwise I'll have to go back. Achha, did you take a photo of me?"

Here's it.

"Please WhatsApp it to me. I'll change my profile photo"

– Kishor, Waiter at beach shack, Goa



(Photo: The Quint/Chintamani Wagh)
(Photo: The Quint/Chintamani Wagh)

"There is this one woman who would give me Rs 1,000 every month. Similarly, there are a few others who would give Rs 500 or Rs 100, but now getting Rs 50 has also become difficult. I used to have a thali for lunch which is for Rs 70, but now I can’t afford that. I’m a simple man. I don’t cheat, I only beg for as much as I need for the day. But I don’t know what to do now."

– Shammy, Beggar, Mumbai



(Photo: The Quint/Rishika Chatterjee)
(Photo: The Quint/Rishika Chatterjee)

"I sell balloons to earn some money so I can feed my children. Now, people do not want to shell out any money to buy the balloons and it has become difficult to earn two square meals for my children. I have tried to take up other jobs as a daily wage labourer but no one is hiring right now."

– Aarti, Balloon Seller, Delhi



(Photo: The Quint/Chintamani Wagh)
(Photo: The Quint/Chintamani Wagh)

"I am so happy to see a Rs 500 note because getting change for Rs 2,000 is such a pain. The situation is slowly coming under control."

– Bahadur Burondkar, Officer, Mumbai



(Photo: The Quint/Chintamani Wagh)
(Photo: The Quint/Chintamani Wagh)

"There is always fluctuation in the property business but now there will be a drastic dip. This is going to affect the business very badly. But I think it is for the greater good."

– Vijay, Property Sale Agent, Mumbai



(Photo: The Quint/Vikram Venkateswaran)
(Photo: The Quint/Vikram Venkateswaran)

"I've taken sannyas. I took it a few years ago, after my wife died. I now live alone. There is some money in my bank account for daily needs. They told me that old Rs 500 and 1,000 notes are now 'defunct'. I think it is a good decision, if it achieves something. I don't know. It's difficult to come to the bank and wait for so much time. My knees hurt."

– Nagayya, Chennai



(Photo: The Quint/Chintamani Wagh)
(Photo: The Quint/Chintamani Wagh)

"People are not able to pay, I am not able get basic things for my house. A lot of my business is dependent on change, which is a huge problem. But it’s a good initiative taken by the government, so we are adjusting; Ache Din Ayenge."

– Lakshmi Anil Kumar Sagar, Scrap Business, Mumbai

(Photo: The Quint/Rishika Chatterjee)
(Photo: The Quint/Rishika Chatterjee)

“My daughter is getting married on 26 November and I am left with no cash, not even for the day-to-day shopping. The government has allowed withdrawals for weddings but because of long queues and mismanagement, I still can't get any cash. I have been out since morning with all my bank documents, but with no luck. With the wedding date fast approaching, it's a difficult time for me and my family. We believe in Modiji, but what do we do now? Give me a solution."

– Sukhweer Singh, Retd Government Employee, Delhi



(Photo: The Quint/Vikram Venkateswaran)
(Photo: The Quint/Vikram Venkateswaran)

"My birth itself is a great good fortune! So, no matter what happens, I'm never dejected or upset. I never refuse money. See, all of these old Rs 500 notes. I take them all. I don't have a problem. I'll exchange it later. What's the big deal? Do you want these bananas?"

– Ayyanar, Fruit Vendor, Chennai



(Photo: The Quint/Chintamani Wagh)
(Photo: The Quint/Chintamani Wagh)

"I work in a BPO and I used to withdraw money from the ATM almost every day. Now, reaching the bank/ATM on time and standing in these long queues is a big problem for everybody, especially for us, the working class. In the last one week, I have taken three half days’ leave just to withdraw cash."

– Sunil, BPO Employee, Mumbai



(Photo: The Quint/Vikram Venkateswaran)
(Photo: The Quint/Vikram Venkateswaran)

"I sell a few hundred rupees worth of ice cream. It's always hot here. And many people like to eat in the rain also. These last ten days have been difficult. People ask for ice cream, and then when I give, they look at their purse and say, 'I don't want. No change'."

– Harishchandra, Ice Cream Vendor, Chennai



(Photo: The Quint/Parul Agrawal)
(Photo: The Quint/Parul Agrawal)

“I am physically challenged, I walk with crutches. I went to the bank today and luckily everybody was helpful to me, but for many of my friends who use a wheel chair it has been very difficult. Accessibility is a huge issue in banks and when it's crowded it gets worse. Many of my physically challenged friends have not been able to deposit or withdraw any money.”

– Revathy, Accounting Clerk, Bengaluru



(Photo Credit: Ravi Shankar)
(Photo Credit: Ravi Shankar)

"I'm a daily wage labourer and have four children who study in school. My husband is also a labourer. We run our household with what we both earn. But we can't find any work now. I have to undergo a hysterectomy operation but I'm worried because I don't have any cash or work left."

- Maya, Daily Wage Labourer, Jaipur



(Photo Credit: The Quint/Anant Maheshwari)
(Photo Credit: The Quint/Anant Maheshwari)

"I am a Class 11 student. My father doesn't live in Khandwa... he works in another city. For the last two days, I've been standing in queues outside ATMs to withdraw money for daily household expenses."

– Sarthak Mishra, Student, Khandwa, Madhya Pradesh