Clad in warm clothes, 34-year-old Pankaj Kumar lounged outside the HDFC Bank in Jangpura Extension at 3 am on Sunday.
Tired of waiting in line the previous day and watching the shutters fall right in front of him, Kumar had decided he would be the first in line when the gates opened on Sunday. “I won’t take any more chances. I can’t skip work on Monday,” said Kumar, who had to exchange old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes and deposit the rest in his account.
The sudden demonetisation move has forced people to take drastic steps to make sure their wallets have at least some Rs 100 notes and that the old currency is exchanged.
For people with day jobs, venturing out at night or early in the morning are the only options. Sanket Saha, a 26-year-old engineer, waited outside an ATM kiosk in Lajpat Nagar at 3.30 am on Sunday, praying that the machine would give him some cash.
Soon after, he heaved a sigh of relief as the machine hummed and rumbled and gave him 20 crisp Rs 100 notes. “I heard that some machines in the area will be refilled post midnight and I decided to try my luck. I can’t skip work and stand in line during the day. I was using my debit card for most transactions till now but there are some things you require cash for. Not all autorickshaw drivers have Paytm,” he said, while texting friends the location of the ATM so that they could come and withdraw money too.
The streets of Delhi — throughout the day and night — have been abuzz with activity since November 8, when the demonetisation scheme was first announced.
“I set an alarm for 1 am and went to the closest ATM as I had heard it will be filled during the night, but that didn’t happen. I am still penniless. I have asked the guard to give me a call when the machine is filled. I will pay him some money if he does,” said Kartik Arora, a resident of Mayur Vihar Phase III.
In Malviya Nagar on Sunday, a serpentine line formed outside an ATM kiosk whose screen prominently read ‘Out of Cash’. “They are bound to fill it up some time during the day, hopefully soon,” said Meeta Verma, a housewife.