This happened ten days before high value notes were withdrawn, and suggests nothing about my cook’s political opinions or views.
On 30th October 2016, I paid my cook his salary for October. As it was the usual practice, I paid him in cash. He asked me if I could do an online transfer instead.
It was the first day of Diwali, and he needed to send money to his wife in Bihar. And it being Diwali, all banks were closed, and there was no way he could send money to her. So he asked me if I could do that. And if I were anyway transferring money to his wife’s account, could I send her a bit more, he asked – he would compensate me for the extra amount in cash.
And so like that I used my cook as an ATM. He gave me his wife’s account details (it was such an obscure branch that I’d to google it to find the IFSC code – wasn’t in citibank’s lookup list). I added her as a “payee” and immediately IMPSd the amount to her. And my cook gave me the extra funds I’d transferred in cash.
Later on, I told him to install his bank’s app on his newly acquired fancy phone (with a Reliance Jio sim). I’m not sure he’s done that but considering how resourceful he is, it wouldn’t be long before he does that. And more of the Bihari cooks network in Bangalore do likewise.
Nandan Nilekani, in his championing of the UPI, likes to talk about how “anybody can be an ATM” with the new technology. This was an exemplary example of that.
The only fly in the ointment was that I didn’t need cash that day – after all I’d been to the ATM earlier that morning just so that I could get cash to pay my cook – so I ended up with a lot of cash that I didn’t need. Thankfully I was able to spend it productively before the ceased to be legal tender.
Following the withdrawal of high currency notes, I told my cook I would pay his subsequent salaries by bank transfer. He gladly agreed.