India

India banker's tale of 'cash like rotten leather'

Bank worker who spoke to Humans of Bombay Image copyright Humans of Bombay

An Indian bank manager's tale of chaos and the "stench" of hoarded cash is being shared widely on social media, after last week's shock ban.

Posted on the Humans of Bombay Facebook page, it has been shared more than 10,000 times with many praising the "unsung heroes" of India's cash crisis.

The unnamed woman says the "story" of the cash crisis is not limited to the long lines outside banks.

"We became a part of the dirty cycle that runs in this country," she said.

In the post, the bank manager talks about how she has seen all human life in bank queues over the last few chaotic days.

She describes the poor - daily wage labourers and small business owners lining up to deposit their money along with the super rich, some with huge stocks of stored up cash.

The government announced last week that 500 and 1,000 rupee notes would be scrapped, and that people could deposit or change their old notes in banks until 30 December with new 500 and 2,000 rupee notes to be issued.

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The move was taken to crack down on corruption and illegal cash holdings known as "black money", the government said.

The bank manager described how some of the cash had smelled so strongly of leather, her bank had to order masks for all the cashiers because the stench had become so unbearable.

People who held on to large stashes of cash might typically have stored them in leather bags and briefcases, inside sofas, or even under mattresses for years - so taking on an odour.

And while she says she supports the government's move because it will "strengthen" the country, she has said what is "ridiculous" is the way people have been behaving.

"They're treating us so badly. Just four hours ago I received a call from a man from a place called Nanded who screamed at me non-stop. He went on yelling, blaming me, cursing in Marathi and I'm sitting there just wondering what I could possibly do and we've received dozens of such calls each day."

The owner of the Humans of Bombay page, Karishma Mehta, told the BBC that she had met the bank manager after she got in touch through the page, asking for an opportunity to tell her story.

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