My lost found ATM card

In times of Demonetization

Ishtiyaq Sibtian Joo

I was keen to finish off doing some house furnishing shopping for one of my friend as he had promised a reward of a good treat after the spree was over.

Keenness was for various reasons. Primarily, the idea that the treat for my taste buds was coming from my friend’s wallet, was making it all the more tempting. But before my wish of treat would have come true my shopper friend realized that he was little light on money required to pay for his merchandize. Preferring to stay at shop, he passed his card along with his ATM pin number. While I was leaving, he politely requested me to pull some extra cash from my own account, just in case he might fall short of money.

Considering him as a gentle soul, who is always willing to offer his help, I acknowledged in assurance.

On reaching the nearby ATM cubicle, as expected, after Modi’s demonetization, it was already overcrowded. Everyone looked desperate to pull out something from the machine. After waiting for good length of half an hour, I saw myself in front of the money minting machine.

Let me tell you, today for a change was my lucky day, at least which is what I thought then. From last three days, I had never managed to make it door of the ATM machine even. There were times, when I almost thought, I was there, but then the person cursing his luck used to say, the machine is out of cash. So coming in front of ATM in itself was an achievement for me, which I wanted to celebrate. But told myself may be next time.

I did the exercise of putting, and pulling of card into the designated slot. But it didn’t work. I tried it again. The result was the same. The ATM somehow wasn’t registering my card. Although, the card was from a private bank with excellent customer service, but it should still work in our “desi” bank (you know which one-Did I mention I am from Valley). Yes it is the same bank that from last thirty years has been taking us for ride with its appalling customer service. But that is not the part of story now, may be some other time.

My problem this time was simple, “why my card isn’t working?” Have you ever noticed, if your card doesn’t work, you look like a big loser or kind of stupid, in front of the people waiting at your back? If you are not well dressed, you may even come across probably as a thief who has stolen someone else’s card.

If that is not enough, some goofy even comes forward and takes your card from your hand and without your permission tries it for you. The icing on the cake is sometimes it works with their try, only to authenticate archaism, for you do not even know how to simply insert a card into the machine. Besides mine, luckily, that day my card failed every hand who tried it.

Before getting on to the nerves of the waiting bee liners, I put my friend’s card into the ATM card slot and it did work, and the cash did come out. Enigmatically, I again tried my own card, but the result was same.

Just then I looked at my card, and noticed a weird thing. It wasn’t my card. It didn’t have my name on it. It was from my private bank but it was some kind of shopping card, but without any name written on it. It rang my alarm bell. I immediately, briefed my other friend other than the one who was shopping, that this is not my card. I explained him it doesn’t have my name as the two other cards from two different banks in my wallet had.

However, the question was whose card was it and how did it come to me then. While asking my accompanying friend to pull out cash for our shopping friend, I leaf the cubicle, trying to remember the last transaction I did with my card. Soon I remembered it was a day before, that I had pulled out two grands. I clearly remembered I even get a message from the bank for the transaction, and I used to get messages for every transaction done on it. Since I didn’t get any further messages, it implied my card was yet to be used by the person who had stolen it. Strange! Isn’t it?

But then big question was how I ended up having the card that was with me now? Again, after little bit of recap of recent events, I soon remembered, there was an elder person from my native place in the ATM cubicle yesterday when I was withdrawing my two grands. His card wasn’t working. I did offer him help, and probably it was here, our cards got exchanged.

I shared my assumption or say theory with my two friends. The time duration the duo spent in expressing their sorrow for my loss was less than a wink. Soon I was the bud of ridicule of my friends.

Losing a card is not that bigger problem as the things associated with it are. It opens a pandora box of miseries for you. Your family who never things you are responsible enough for anything, reiterates their claim on hearing the news. Besides, you are required to make those long automated calls to your bank, where the voice from the other side after making your press all 1-5 buttons, and spending 15 minutes, will say, “All our customer service operators are presently busy. Your call is important for us. Please hold the call; someone will attend to you shortly.” This shortly, sometimes, doesn’t happen for half an hour. (Just a warning, if you are making any such calls, do it only if you have post paid number. On prepaid, it is pointless, as your balance wouldn’t last till someone comes to talk to you.

Besides, after blocking the card, the new one takes, as they say, “5-7 business working days to come.”

All these thoughts were coming in front of me while leaving the ATM cubicle where I detected that my ATM card was lost.

Despite suffering internally, I still joined my friends, for a small treat of allo-pati, followed by a desi ice cream. Although, both the things were paid by my friends, yet both of them sucked. May be the thought of losing my card was making the tastes more sour.

Since the cubicle where I thought, I might have changed my card was near to my work place, so I called a colleague of mine and asked her to check in the cubicle if someone might have returned my card to the guard posted there. Instead of doing it, my colleague started giving me unwanted suggestion, for what I should do, how I should do, and why it should be done. I always wonder, if it is me only, or there are a whole lot of people like me, who don’t do what they are required, and would unnecessarily chip in their own advice, when it is not even asked for.

Eventually couple of hours later I did get a call from her that someone from our side did go to the ATM cubicle where I thought I had exchanged my card. However, no one had returned any card to the guard in the cubicle.

Finally, I decided to follow the advice of my two accompanying friends of visiting a nearest branch of the bank tomorrow morning. The duo, instead of returning to their homes, under the pretext of seeing me safely off, crashed into my apartment for the night. While I was mourning the loss of my card, I had to simultaneously prepare dinner for them. To make it worse, one among them even stopped at a chicken selling place, only to make me buy one of the birds.

As expected, no sooner, did my folks came to know about my loss over the phone, they surly ensured the full usage of adjectives in describing me, an unparallel careless person, worthless , hopeless, and …

Next morning I along with my friends went to the nearest bank branch. In the bank I explained the story to one of the person’s, who asked me to meet the other. After I explained him my theory of how I might have exchanged the card, he asked me to go to the third person, and after doing the drill with him, he asked me to see a madam sitting in front.

Skinny female with reading glasses on seemed to be immersed in her work. She was counting cheques, and stamping them. No sooner, I started my story with a slight nod immediately she made me stop, and kept on counting her cheques. I was quietly watching someone else money in the form of cheques getting counted, when she suddenly stopped, and asked me to wait on the chairs that were at a distance from here. Probably, my staring didn’t go well with her.

After waiting for good period, my friends, suggested me to check on the female bank staff, if she would listen to us now?

No sooner did I enquire she rebuked me saying, “So what is your problem?” I repeated my story, and how I assume that my card has been exchanged. Asking for my bank account details, she asked if I could provide my card number, I gladly obliged.

Putting card numbers in her computer, she looked at me with a passed a satirical smile. She said, “It is your card only.” She added that it was the same card that I had been using from last two years. I couldn’t believe my ears. I don’t know what was more embarrassing- Me finding my card that actually was never lost, or my theory of my card getting exchanged with a stranger near my office!!!

To save some pride, I asked the female banker, “But it dosen’t have my name?” She politely replied, “This was your instant card and these cards do not have a name. You must have received it on the same day when you opened the account.”

I again inquired, “But then why didn’t it work yesterday?” She told me probably, I didn’t know how to use the card. What! I bloated. But since, I had already proved myself a fool, so I just looked at her. With a satirical voice she asked me, “Try it now in the ATM outside our bank.” Following her advice, I did it. But again it didn’t work. When I said the same, the female banker inflicted more insult to my wounds, by asking her peon to accompany me, and check if I was doing the process correctly. Luckily the lady luck was with me, and like an adamant child, my card didn’t read at all. The peon informed the female banker the same. With a sigh of relief, I in a very thug voice addressed the female banker, “Madam Ab aap baap ko hi.” and stopped.

Taking no notice of my aberration, she immediately suggested she can issue me a new instant card, or if I want to she can put a request for a new card with my name on it, but for that I have to wait. Without thinking twice, I immediately said, “I will wait, but I want card with my name on it.” And she obliged and said, “It would come in next 5-7 working days.”

And I left the bank empty handed as my old lost found card was seized by the bank for not functioning properly.

Joo is a senior journalist who has worked in local, national and international media organisations.

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About Desk Editor

Thanks to all those who said ‘no’ to me, it is because of them I did it myself.
Sameer Showkin Lone is a Founder/ Editor of News Despatch ( He is a journalist with experience of working in different media organisations including India Today and Scoop Whoop. He reports on Defence and Security, Politics, Human Rights, Health and Environment.

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