A coin has more than 2 sides

A coin has more than 2 sides


A coin has more than 2 sides

Our paisas had purchasing power before. Not so much now. In free India, British coins were removed from circulation. When the round copper coin, one among them, lost its value, women refused to return it. They stuffed its curvature with kumkum and pressed it on their foreheads to get a perfectly circular bindi.

Those were the times without readymade bindis. We got the opportunity to see them in grandma’s collection. For many years, people had doubts about notes because they simply preferred coins.

The new government introduced newly minted coins — the 1-paisa copper coin; the 2, 3, 5 and 10-paisa nickel coins; the 20-paisa golden coin with a lotus symbol.

Indians, I think, like to hoard them as they think coins may come in handy during crisis. Now, whenever the RBI mints them, most go  out of circulation immediately. People rush to buy them in kilos.

The next well-known coin holders are the gods themselves; a step below are the purohits. Even now, when people give dakshine in notes, they surely include coins. Perhaps the worst sufferer is the government itself. Any quantity of coin minted will vanish from the market. ‘Change not available’, ‘Please provide change’, ‘Don’t ask for change’ are spelt on boards.

The chillar problem became a national issue. People fought with bus conductors and hoteliers to obtain change. Some hoarders sold coins to establishments for commission — a black market business. There were legislative discussions on coin shortage!

Our coins found other purposes as well. The 1-paisa copper coins turned into garlands around the necks of some idols of gods. The poor 20 paisa, targeted with the rumour that it contained a little gold, soon went out of circulation. Of course, they were reborn as payals.

Eons ago, I participated in a film appreciation course at Heggodu to understand world cinema. My batchmate and good friend, an English professor from Mangaluru, and I had to spend a day and half a night in a class to watch a surrealistic French film. Bored, we decided to share a ‘by-2’ coffee. After we spent a good amount of time relaxing with the coffee, we asked for the bill. The shop owner said it was 15 paisa. My friend, offering 2 coins, a 5-paisa and a 3-paisa coins, asked me to pay the rest.

Enraged, I returned his money and paid the amount in full. Then he consoled me with lessons from Socialism and Capitalism, and the concept of equality, which lasted a day!

As a numismatic enthusiast, I collected coins of different denominations and stored them in a cloth bag. When I married, I could not give the hobby much attention. After a year or so, I opened the bag to find nothing in it. When I asked my wife about it, she coolly said, “I wanted change for bus ticket. So I used them! What’s wrong in that? You go by scooter. Why do you need change anyway?”