Seeing long queues outside banks and ATMs following the demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes has become commonplace since November 8. And if standing in long queues outside banks and ATMs wasn't frustrating enough, imagine being told that they have run out of currency notes just as you are about to reach your turn.
But some people are looking to make the wait for cash a little easier - whether it means giving out pizzas, water and tea or letting them know where they can find operational ATMs with the shortest queues.
Mapshalli, an initiative by Bengaluru-based Shiv Shankar was originally started in September to help residents see if their houses were constructed on storm water drains (by overlaying BBMP maps on Google Maps). Now, Mapshalli is crowd-sourcing information to identify ATMs which are dispensing cash and the length of the queues too.
Operational since Sunday, Shiv says nearly 300 ATMs marked on Mapshalli now cover a 50 kilometre area in and around Mahadevpura, but can continue to grow as and when people check in to identify the ATM.
The ATMs are marked in four colours: those in green are ones dispensing cash and have been updated in the last two hours; the ones marked in red have run out of cash; the ones in grey have not been updated for a few hours meaning that their status is unknown. There are also ATMs marked in yellow, which are dispensing cash but haven't been updated in over two hours.
In Chennai, Vijay Anand, who works with Chennai Tricolor Initiative, a non-profit organisation, made a call on social media for volunteers last week, looking for those who could assist people struggling at banks to exchange or deposit money.
They then approached SBI, which is also the largest public sector bank to offer help. However, since a lot of cash transactions are involved in the process, banks are apprehensive about taking outside help, Vijay says. Finally, after details of all 70 volunteers were sent to the bank in advance, they were given official permission and started work on the ground on Tuesday.
Vijay observed that there was a lot of confusion among people regarding exchanging and depositing money.
Apart from crowd control, the volunteers helped with queries, answering questions about procedures, guiding customers to the correct places and helping people, especially senior citizens, fill out forms.
SBI has 210 branches in Chennai, and they are currently assisting in 50 of them. They plan to approach other banks eventually as more volunteers have come forward to help. Many have taken off from work to volunteer.
In Mangaluru, Balvinder Singh Virdi, served langar (community kitchen where people are served food for free) to people at the city railway station when he saw them struggling to get food on Monday. They were unable to buy food because they either had Rs 2000 notes or did not have notes of a lower denomination.
Across India, there are many other volunteers and groups looking to give people standing in long queues some respite and spreading positivity. Journalist Sucheta Dalal asked fellow Twitter users on Sunday to tweet and appreciate the "bank managers handling situation better than others" and for people to spread word about ATMs with short queues:
Clearly, some bank managers handling situation better than others! Let's name these banks and applaud them! Don't take it for granted! 1/nâ€” Sucheta Dalal (@suchetadalal) November 13, 2016
If you have found a bank/ATM with short queues please spread the word so others benefit #ShortBankQ may be an apt hashtag 2/nâ€” Sucheta Dalal (@suchetadalal) November 13, 2016
Maybe NGOs like @silverinnings can inform about Sr. Citizens in trouble so that public volunteers can help with daily necessities/food 3/nâ€” Sucheta Dalal (@suchetadalal) November 13, 2016
There have also been instances of volunteers distributing food and water to people standing in queues.
Amazing! Lot of volunteers are supporting common man in filling their exchange forms outside Banks. Asked who are you? They said INDIANS pic.twitter.com/zGjfiZVJdIâ€” Tanmay Shankar (@Shanktan) November 12, 2016
â€” Azzurina (@kazal1401) November 13, 2016
A trekking association group distributing water & biscuit among people standing in a long queue outside a bank. pic.twitter.com/AOJ7cEKlUOâ€” ASHIM KUMAR DEY (@mail2ashim) November 13, 2016