So the Finance Minister called me.
‘Sup dude?” he asked cheerily.
“All good bro... I’m getting my fingernails done.”
“Wow. You’re quite the metrosexual, huh?”
“No, my banker is applying indelible ink on my right index nail.”
“Left nail for vote, right nail for note,” he quipped.
“Next, I will be standing in a queue at an ATNM machine.”
“ATNM machine?” he asked, confused.
“Sir, that’s an ‘Absolutely Totally No Money’ machine.”
“Aah yes, we have some of those. But why not go to an ANY machine till we get our INR cash act together?”
‘What’s an ANY machine?”
“‘All Notes in Yen’ machine. You see, this is a brainwave by our boss. Whatever country he visits, he organises for large amounts of that currency to be dispersed freely here. He went to Japan recently, na?”
“I see. So, if he’s heading to Helsinki next, can we expect AMF machines — ‘All Money Finnished’? And if Holland, how about LGD (Let’s Go Dutch) machines?”
“Okay, don’t be so blinkered. We are planning to abolish black money from this country. Cross border terrorism will be countered.”
“Bro, I appreciate the larger vision of demonisation... sorry... dehumanization...uh, whatever the word is... but the execution is appalling. I mean, if the British Prime Minister had decided to discontinue the 100 and 50 pound sterling notes, with four hours notice, what do you think would have happened to her?”
“You are in a bad mood, I can see. I didn’t reach out to you to hear you complain. ”
“So what is the purpose of this call?”
“To ask what you thought of the design of our new R2,000 note?
“Dude, everyone’s taking selfies with it; as no one has change, it has no fiscal value. The colour is like a falooda... You really should sack your in-house RBI designer. Plus, the colour runs — this morning I wore a white shirt, put some notes in my pocket, after some sweating in the Mumbai sun, it’s now a pink shirt!”
‘Okay, smarty pants. I will tell you about the new notes we are introducing. You suggest appropriate designs. Cool?”
“Will you pay me for services rendered?”
“Yes, with old R500 and R1,000 notes, which you can exchange till December 30.”
“First out of the mint is a special R1 note. Come on, design batao,” the Finance Minister challenged.
“I would name it ‘Black Buck’. The colour should obviously be variations of black and grey. On one side, there should be a deer. Next to it should be a muscle bound man with a six-pack. On the flip side, there should be the words – Being Human.”
‘Impressive,” he accepted.
The conversation went on as I explored designs for new notes of R10, R100, R500, R1,000 till we reached R5 lakh.
“Sir, if you’re planning a special R5 crore note, I have an idea.”
“R5 crore note?”
“Haan sir, you’ll need one specially for Bollywood producers, if they cast a Pakistani actor, na?”
“What’s the idea?”
“Military green camouflage as a colour, with the lettering, ‘For Army Fund’.”
Rahul da Cunha is an adman, theatre director/playwright, photographer and traveller. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org