6 p.m.: A cold breeze has started sweeping through the city. I meet Rachit outside the flour mill, where he stands with a vendor preparing and selling fried snacks from his cart. He tells me he has been spending his mornings at the bank since the 10th of November. Following the Central Government’s decision to demonetise high-value currency, there has been a flurry of activity in banks and financial institutions across the country to exchange old high-value currency notes for the new ones. Like millions of other entrepreneurs, much of Birjinder’s business operates on the use of cash. Needless to say, it is imperative for him to get rid of the worthless high-value currency notes and exchange these for the new ones. But given their other engagements, neither he nor other members of his family have the time to queue up at banks for this purpose. That is where Rachit’s services are harnessed. Rachit has spent between three and four hours each day standing in queues at the different banks in which his employer has accounts.
Bhullan, a 40-year old vegetable vendor from Jaunpur, hands over freshly-cooked vegetable fries, which we gratefully devour. Rachit takes leave of us, since he has to drive Birjinder’s wife to the nearby shopping center.