I always loved coins, and never those papers colloquially called ‘notes’ or ‘nambari’. Coins have this feeling of possession, when they crankle in pockets or bulge out distinctly from genitalia. Squared ‘five paisa coins’ to schilling-shaped ‘chavannis’, shiny ‘athannis’ and the bulky round ‘sikka’. They all have their own flair.
Once in Urbana, a small town near Chicago, my landlord was surprised to find umpteens of ‘athannees’ in washing machine. The Indian guys washed their clothes with desi athannees which resembled the ‘quarter’ coins of America. We were importing precious athannees from India just to wash the clothes.
A story floats about Dhirubhai Ambani. He figured out that coins in Yemen where he worked in Shell company, are made from a precious alloy which costed more than actual coin. He collected these coins, melted them and earned a fortune.
Once famous Sitarist Ravishankar and Vilayat Khan were playing together. They were quintessential competitors and Vilayat Khan was some years senior. But, Ravishankar was ofcourse the world famous one. Vilayat khan sahab just kept the condition that he should be paid one rupee extra. Ravishankar got the whiff of it and smartly refused to take a single penny. Organisers offered a ‘coin’ to Vilayat khan and he turned furious. Afterall, he wanted just one rupee extra!!!
Muhammed Shah Rangeela, a Mughal ruler, loved to change his coins every other month. Suddenly one day all coins were deemed invalid, and new coins used to come. Afterall, he was Rangeela Badshah!
I have visited the coin factory in Nashik once, where workers take the 100 coins in hand, without counting them. They just know by feel, its 100 and not a coin extra. Then, ofcourse its counted by machines, but it always matches. Its the feel of coins.
How lovely it would have been to use silky stringed purses and throw off these asharfis. Aren’t the paper notes nasty, and coins rock!