# The new currency

Itu kiman mithai ase?

The new currency feels very much like a conspiracy between my neighbourhood grocery and the pharmacy. I have discovered that the paan shop is also part of it, and so is the ration dukan. The only members of society not participating are the vegetable sellers. I am yet to check out the fruit sellers and the food trucks. What is this controversial new currency?

If you buy an item or more at the pharmacy, and they owe you change for five or ten rupees, you get paid back, not in coins, but in sweets, for heaven’s sake! Five sweets or ten sweets for rupees five or ten. Have we run out of coins in India or at least in Nagaland? My grocer gave me five red sweets the first time which I was still carrying in my bag when I went back to buy another item. She owed me one or two rupees. I noticed that she promptly took out more red coloured sweets. I quickly told her, “It’s okay, I have that red sweet already.’ She did not offer me coins after that. She did give me a sheepish smile. Mind you, it’s not every shop, but enough shops are doing it, and maybe we are doing something illegal here by replacing good Indian money by red cover sweets! Some shops offer other colours.

I doubt that this trend can be checked by the common man. But if we get tired of it, we could use the same technique. Collect ten to fifty differently coloured sweets, and fill your grocery basket with goods, and when you reach the cash counter, try to pay for your purchases with sweets. Offer them different colours. I am assuming that the red colour sweets are equal to ten rupees and the yellow coloured sweets might be a little more. What about purple sweets? Surely those would be at least two rupees a sweet. Hmm. Look for more of the purple sweets in that case. One purple sweet, after all, will be equivalent to a two rupee coin, and less weight than a coin.

What if this new currency puts the national Mint into bankruptcy? What if we start a trend where every region using the rupee prefers to cart around multi-coloured sweets as currency instead of currency? Well, it would certainly make the world a sweeter place to live in. Are you worried it might spike up diabetes in sufferers and non-sufferers? I beg to differ from your fear. When sweets are currency, the user will refrain from eating them, after all we don’t eat money, do we? Not seen anyone stuffing their mouth with paper notes and certainly not with coins. So there, you save people from sweet consumption. They will think twice before popping a sweet the equivalent of one rupee, or two rupees, or even ten rupees in their mouth. If they did, they would find themselves standing at the paan shop lamely explaining that they had eaten their ‘money!’ There are so many possibilities. Think of the weapons sale market. Imagine trying to buy weapons with bags and bags of red, and yellow and purple and tangerine sweets! That would surely put the weapons race out of action for some months. Sellers would be too busy counting sweets! Yes, this is daft, I know, but no more daft than the practice of trying to eliminate legal tender by replacing it with sweets.

Are we going to do something about it? Not really. Because we are a peace loving people who let things slide.  But in other parts of India, I guess this practice would be considered illegal. Oh well, I suppose it is another of those things that can happen only in Nagaland. This is definitely not a complaint essay. Rather, it is an exercise at looking at the wholly absurd side of replacing currency with sweets and the innocuous manner in which it has come to stay. Next, we can ask for the price of items in the shop thus: itu kiman mithai ase? I am assuming money as such will have lost its relevance if the sweet currency continues. What do you think? Will we need to invest soon in gunny bags that will carry a load of honey-flavoured sweets? Should Myki start making some beautiful embroidered bags to carry our honey?