Exchange and Barter

We are often forced by circumstances or necessity to be indebted to others.

Our family has had a long-standing relationship with the ‘soppu’ seller. My sister, my brother and my domestic help are his regular customers. It is a sort of brand loyalty.

The other day, I paid him after I had chosen what I wanted from the wide variety displayed. He had to return some small change. He searched his pockets but couldn’t find any. “No change,” he said regretfully. “Never mind,” I answered.

Quite suddenly, his worried expression was replaced by one which was the equivalent of ‘Eureka!’ He picked up a tiny sprig of curry leaves and handed it to me with an air of triumph. “This is instead of the change,” he clarified.

“It doesn’t matter,” I protested. But he would have none of it. “I don’t have to be indebted more than I have to.” He had a point there, I guess. We are often forced by circumstances or necessity to be indebted to others. There is pay-back time, even if it takes long. His simple philosophy was enlightening. I accepted the sprig, acknowledging his pride and self-respect.

Then there was the incident with the man who does the ironing. He counted the clothes, did some quick calculations and said, “Give me one more sari to iron.” I didn’t need to have any more saris ironed and said so. “In that case, give me two shirts,” he replied in the tone of one being very accommodating. I couldn’t understand the logic. Noticing my perplexity, he explained, “Then it will amount to a round sum and I won’t have to give you change.” Such a simple, sensible solution!

Another time, I painstakingly compiled three lists—one for groceries, another for toiletries and the third for materials needed for household maintenance. For a home manager, this can be quite a daunting task. Then I marched off to the nearest shopping centre which has home delivery facility. It is time-consuming to weigh the options, then pick and choose. Quite pleased at having done the job in one go, I walked up to the billing counter and waited for the print out. I did a quick check and shelled out the money.

The cashier returned the balance in notes together with a handful of éclairs. “What’s this for?” I asked. “I am short of change. The éclairs are to make up for it. “But I don’t want these,” I protested. I am not a ‘sweet’ person (dark chocolate exempted). Then he said, “Business is business.” That being the case, I am going to collect toffees, candy and such like items. Then may be I could negotiate a buy back scheme!

Despite the rapid strides technology has taken, will we have to revert to the exchange and barter system?

DH Newsletter Privacy Policy Get the top news in your inbox
Comments (+)