It has been eight days since the demonetisation announcement was made by PM Modi on the 8th of November. Though the confusion around what needs to be done has ebbed, the panic clearly hasn't. As ATMs run out of money and queues get longer in front of banks, it's up to us to make the ordeal bearable for ourselves and people around us.
Consider this: rarely is everyone you know on the same boat as you are. And that's exactly the case right now. It is important to remember that nearly everyone around you is suffering for the exact same reasons as you are. Everyone needs cash, bank employees are overworked and possibly tired, people have stood in queues for hours only to have ATMs run out of cash, almost everyone has jobs and work, everyone in a queue, like you, would be rather be somewhere else.
So, instead of getting impatient and angry, you are better off empathising with people in the queue and those working in the bank.
Since the situation is likely to remain the same for a couple of weeks to come, here are a few handy tips we gathered while standing in queues ourselves, to make the ordeal tolerable.
1. If you are visiting a bank, you are likely to spend more time standing in a queue than when you are visiting at ATM. But you can also choose a branch close to your workplace or home. In which case, if you feel unwell or need to use the toilet, you have help at hand. For example, if you have a family member or friend living close by, you can discuss in advance if he/she is willing to help out in case there's an emergency. They can come and stand in the queue for you for a bit if they are home, and you can offer to do the same for them.
2. You should be prepared for the worst. People have had to stand in queues for five hours to withdraw and exchange money. If you are the sort who gets exhausted fast, carry a pack of glucose water or anything sugary. Dry food like biscuits and other snacks are also helpful additions to your bag.
3. Take your medicines along if one is accustomed to taking them regularly. Keep a couple of medicines like antacids handy, just in case.
4. Keep numbers of local clinics, doctors and the ambulance service handy if you have planned a visit to the bank. That way, you can immediately help someone who has fallen ill while standing in the queue.
5. Offer to help people who are using the ATM for the first time. You may have noticed several elderly people and some other less privileged ones have been struggling inside ATMs to follow the prompts, most of which are in English till you choose a different language. If it seems like someone is struggling inside, knock and politely ask if he/she needs help. And please don't hustle someone who is evidently unfamiliar with the process.
6. Fill your forms and deposit slips before reaching the bank so that the person standing next to you does not have to wait any longer.
7. Offer people standing in front of you to keep their spot if they need to take a break from standing or need to visit the lavatory. If you have water, you can offer to share it with people standing next to you.
8. Carry old newspapers, just in case you are stuck for long in the queue and need to sit to give your legs a rest.
9. If you are one to get easily impatient, carry a book, a newspaper, or save up a few articles on your phone to read. And of course, music, like always makes for a great companion.
10. We noticed scores of people banging on the gates of banks and screaming. Others shouting at guards who are just following instructions and picking up fights. One has to remember that they are as stretched and stressed as you are, and they are working to their over time to help you. There's no reason they should have to bear the brunt of your frustration.
11. Please don't smoke while standing in queues.
12. Finally, keep your calm. Help people who are less privileged or less able bodied than you are.