In Trail Of Forgotten Coins
In case you are interested in Coin Collection then this would interest You
Roaming randomly in busy streets sometimes makes you miss so many minor but interesting aspects of you surrounding, and we simply miss on appreciating their relevance. Well let me talk about a very brief interaction with a coin seller to gain understanding of what they do.
Even though it happened a couple of weeks ago but I just couldn’t let the incident get buried under dust. It was a Thursday afternoon and I had just stepped out of Chandni Chowk metro station where I was supposed to meet a friend. As it happens in most of the stories, something held him back and I found myself with around 30 spare minutes. And so I decided to ditch the metro station for a stroll.
Within a couple of minutes and nearly 100 steps out of station I realized that May afternoons are not the most ideal time to relieve exploration itch. But irrespective of the fact that I was all covered in sweat and harsh sunlight was interacting with my skin in a way similar to a needle piercing through a fabric, I decided to follow the crowd. Soon we entered a very narrow lane which definitely was cramped for an overly healthy bloke like me. To add chaos my struggle, I not only was I being pushed from the crowd behind me but people were rushing in from other direction as well. By the time I got out I realized how my car must feel when inside a car wash with rollers rubbing it from both end.
The exit to the lane was my entry to Chandni Chowk market but the heat had soaked out all the enthusiasm out of me. Now is was walking with just one aim, to comfortably sit in shade. And soon I reached a section of shops which was being renovated and to my left were a few steps for entry into the shop. Even though I could see “Yahan Baithna Mana Hai” (do not sit here) board I got courage by the fact that a lot of people were sitting there. In fact there were couple of Paan stalls there doing a fully engaged business. I decided to take a seat behind one such stall hoping to hear some interesting conversation to kill the 20 minutes in my hand.
But soon I realized that I was just fooled by the way counter was decorated and this was not at all the Paan stall I earlier assumed. I could see that old man with a lean figure, gray hair and wrinkled skin was sitting with his fingers crossed and eyes keeping a close watch on his small tray. Soon two curios teens stood in front of him whispering something to each other. One of the boys picked up a coin from old man’s tray and asked “how much for this one?”. The answer came “Don’t touch any coin, keep it back”. And only once the boy kept the coin back I heard “This is for 500/-“.
What The Fuck!!!! … I remember these three words echoed loud inside my head and suddenly I was interested to see what all he had and what currency was he selling. Lethargy was gone and I sprang from my stair to sit on stair blow me right next to the old man.
A closer look at his tray and I observed his hands carefully segregating coins and carefully keeping them to various sections. The man was coin seller!. My fingers started to tingle and I asked him if I could take a few snaps of his counter to which I received a gentle affirmative smile.
He started to explain me about his collection which he had divided into 7 separate sections. I could see that while we was talking to me his eyes drifted back to his tray searching for something. He moved a few coins as if counting them, and picked up a coin. stretching his hand toward me he said “Yeh wala dekho, mera sabse mehenga wala sikka, aath sau rupaiye ka hai! (“Take a look at this one, the most expensive coin I have, it is for Rs. 800). I could see a glitter in his eyes while showing the coin to me, he was like a proud father showing mark-sheet of his child who would have topped his school.
The coin was from early 18’th century and he claimed that he had many more like that one. I quickly scanned through his collection and indeed there were some really old coins with him while some coins were reasonably recent which I could remember from my early childhood days.
He had some coins from foreign currency, while some were Indian coins which came out as limited edition. I just checked how much an 5 rupee coin be worth if I wanted to purchase and he was happy to sell it for Rs. 25/-.
To be honest I was quite happy to see a some coins for 1,2,5,10,20,25 paisa which today are out of circulation.
I was considering buying and negotiating for a coin which had Arabic/ Urdu language imprinted, I was ready to shelve out 300/- for the same but before I could have taken it to next level my phone rang and my friend had reached the metro station. I quickly started clicking a few pictures.
Meanwhile his hands slipped into a black bag kept under his counter and sneaked out a notebook. Once again proudly he opened the book and pointed toward it. Well, seems like he not only had coins but had a collection of few forgotten notes as well. He held out a 10 rupees note which must have been post-independence signed by J B Taylor (who was the second governor of RBI).
A Rs 10 Note signed by Sir J B Taylor
Well, few more clicks and my phone stared to ring again and I knew I would need to hurry back. By the time I was done clicking and keeping my camera back to my bag I observed that my little discussion with the old man and camera clicks had attracted a decent gathering of inquisitive buyers. A smile exchanged with each other was sufficient to replace a goodbye-thank you pleasantries.
Unfortunately in the rush of heading back I realised that I never asked the guy about his name or number but I hope the photograph on my will help.
I am sure that there a lot more people who sell coins and who would like to purchase coins. So if any of my readers know about similar points in Chandni Chowk or somewhere else please enrich my post with your knowledge.