Take a Walk on the Wild Side … at the Bank
Don’t have enough cash to take your kid somewhere entertaining? No one does! So, we came up with a fun game (so fun). It’s called, “Let’s pretend this bank queue is the zoo!” This demonetisation has made animals of us, after all ….
The wolf has one goal in mind: to move up through the queue as quickly as possible. If you delay even a second in taking a shuffling step forward, he will turn on you with a snarl. And if you delay a few seconds, watch out – he will pounce ahead of you, swallowing up that extra space like a delicious morsel of caribou. Watch out particularly for the alphas – they’re the ones who rally a few others to help them, turning the queue into pack and prey. Guard your spot and your toes against these apex predators.
Don’t mistake the wolves for the foxes, however. These too-clever cousins have the same goal, but go about it by wheeling and dealing – whatever it takes to charm or wheedle their way ahead of others in the queue. They may not eat you whole, but the end result is the same: You, at the back of the queue, with dwindling chances of getting the money.
The main prey of wolves, these quiet sufferers are just dying for someone to ask if they’re ok. You’ll know them by their distinctive calls: Heavy sighs and lots of ‘Arre, baba!’ They’re so focused on their trials and tribulations that they don’t notice the wolves circling.
Not to be mistaken for their close cousins, the goats, however. Goats might be no match for wolves, but this scrappier breed will put up a fight, using their pointy elbows to defend their position while bleating their tale of monetary inconvenience (usually not as inconvenient as your own) loudly to anyone within earshot.
These wrinkle-faced animals move through the queue silently and slowly. They’ve seen things like this happen, and they’ll see it again; you win some, you lose some. So, they move with a dignified resignation that even the wolves respect. A fox has been known to offer the walrus a chair, in the heat of the day. But the walrus has seen a lot in his or her lifetime, and won’t fall for that.
If something smells rotten, that’s because you’re standing next to a skunk. Easily identifiable by their sweat stains and their stricken look as they think of their lakhs of useless thousands piled at home. The skunk moves through the queue quickly – no one wants to be associated with his or her black-striped behind; the smell just isn’t worth it.
This animal crows loudly to keep the rest of us on the same page. He’s a spreader of news, of time, of information – “One hour until the bank closes! One hour!” “I’ve just got a news alert; they’ve lowered the withdrawal limit to 2500. 2500, people!” “They have to be recalibrated, that’s why only one ATM is running.” – even when it’s news, time and information that everyone already knows.
This animal is on loan from another zoo; he’s got a hump full of cash to exchange, but it’s not his money, he’s just there to keep the spot warm for the animal with the actual money, who will arrive only when he’s further along the queue. He’s as bored with this as you are of watching him; you can tell by how slowly he munches his chaat and stares ahead, dead-eyed. Move along to the next exhibit.
Poor ostrich – harassed, sweating, and shell-shocked, she only wants to stick her head in the sand and remember when banking was a cushy 9 to 5 gig. Now she’s too busy making announcements and answering questions and generally running back and forth to even count how many days till the next bank holiday. And the wolves are closing in, despite her carefully numbered ticketing system ….
The bird of paradise
This foreigner’s feathers are ruffled: Isn’t there a faster, better way to do this? Isn’t there someone else he could talk to? How can a country treat a visitor like this? Why isn’t the system more efficient? Why is India such a mess? Are you sure he can’t go to the front of the queue? Do you know who he is? Are you wanting a bribe, is that it? Do you want him to call his embassy? Just tell him what to do, he’ll do it, just to get out of this miserable zoo and get on with his holiday. There’s a yogi waiting for him in Rishikesh for god’s sake.