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A Very Legal Laundering Of Money

Discussion in 'Snippets of Life (Non-Fiction)' started by Rihana, Jan 30, 2020.

  1. Rihana

    Rihana IL Hall of Fame

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    We all looked forward to Kaaku Uncle’s visits. My mother for the regional language magazines he brought, my father for the long discussions they would have about the local politics, and us kids for the sweets and savouries Kaaku got us from Narasimha Sweets. One afternoon, the doorbell rang and to my joy it was Kaaku visiting us on a day when my older siblings were at school. Kaaku handed me the Narasimha bag as I went running to fetch him a glass of water. Reaching for the glass, he placed a crumpled and soiled five rupee in my hand, "Go wash it, kid."

    My eyes fairly popped out of my face at the privilege. It was a task only given to my sister. I looked at mother. Not wanting to miss any of the extended family gossip Kaaku would have to narrate to her, she dismissed me, "Be careful. It is a five rupee note!"

    I scampered away to the bathroom before she or Kaaku changed their mind. Turning on the tap at its slowest, I gently moistened the note. The soap at hand was green in color. I am unable to recall if it was Liril, Margo, Rexona or Hamam. I gently transferred some of the lather from my fingers to the note and washed it under running water, scrubbing carefully at the grime on both sides. Shaking off the extra water, I quietly made my way to the ironing table, switched on the Bajaj iron to its lowest heat, covered the note with a soft saree used for that purpose, and ironed it to a new life. I held it up to the light like I had seen shopkeepers examining notes for counterfeit. It looked like a five year old ready all shiny and ready for the first day of kindergarten. Eyes wide with anticipation, I handed it to Kaaku. He patted my head, "Well done!” as I ran back to the forgotten savouries.

    I had forgotten about Kaaku’s visits and the money laundering he taught us until last December when I was cleaning up closets in the kids’ rooms. As I came across money long forgotten and carelessly stashed away in the draws, I started to form a lecture to deliver later: "You know money doesn't grow on what grows in our backyard." But the scolding mother in me suddenly flew back in time to a little me washing the five rupee note with a green soap. This is not something that "Happens only in India!" I said to myself, "Why not in America!"

    The soap was a white Dove soap and the tap sported a sophisticated gold-trimmed faucet but all else was just like when I was a little girl. Like a scientist de-oiling a pelican’s wings on a deserted beach, I took my time to wash the five dollar bill in the quiet house late at night with only the heater’s sound for company. Taking a chance, I ironed it without googling the temperature to use. It felt so affirming and life-giving to behold the "new" bill that I promptly forgave the errant child in my mind.

    This laundering remains my favorite "money" memory. Googling it a bit I came to know that Indian rupees are made of cotton and balsam, and American dollars use seventy-five percent cotton and twenty-five linen. I am now like a child who has just learnt to say "Hi" and has to say that to everyone in the supermarket and the parking lot -- constantly on the lookout for dollar bills that need laundering. :grinning:

    bill1.jpg bill2.jpg
     

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  2. Rihana

    Rihana IL Hall of Fame

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    Wondering - has anyone else ever cleaned, washed or even just ironed paper money? I was talking about this to an American friend, and she was so shocked. I told her, hey it is just a five dollar bill, not the American flag folded wrongly or flown without adequate illumination past sunset. :buenrollo:
     
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  3. peartree

    peartree Platinum IL'ite

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    Wow!!! What a beautiful snippet :) I never knew until quite recently, while watching Jeopardy, that the US dollar bill was technically cloth and not paper! I remember being astounded. And I know today that the Indian currency also can safely be laundered. Wow!! I hav never bothered to apply logic as to how the numerous times I have had money in my jeans go though the washer/dryer cycle came out intact while other paper did not make it!

    Thoroughly enjoyed reading this, Rihana!!
     
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  4. HariLakhera

    HariLakhera Finest Post Winner

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    I thought it tells something about real money laundering. But then laundering is just another name for washing.
    Never heard of it, forget about doing it. A washed note will note be accepted by shopkeeper.
    In Nepal, it was sort of crime to refuse a torn or soiled note. They wanted to save on cost of note printing, which was done by India. I do not know what is the situation now. Similarly, in EU also they normally do not refuse a torn note as I experienced during a recent visit. Somehow I was in possession of a torn note and I took it as a loos. At the coffee shop, I asked the cash counter fellow if the note will work and he simply smiled and took it.
    Now after laundering, may be someone will come with stitching a torn note.
    Hahahaha.
     
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  5. SpringB

    SpringB Platinum IL'ite

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    Really nice read. You should write more. Enjoyed the details of green soap soft sari bajaj iron ... wow I could imagine a little girl cleaning the dirty note your Kakku reminded me of mine who would visit us with chocolates wrapped in a crinkled newspaper wearing a khaki uniform and ringing the cycle bell as he announced his arrival. Nostalgic!

    Now I really thought that it’s related to money laundering :) Ha ha ha :) :)
     
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2020
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  6. sln

    sln Platinum IL'ite

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  7. sln

    sln Platinum IL'ite

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    I have had the privilege of ironing the notes.I was pleasantly misled by the title and expected some juicy news about Mallya or Nirav Modi but you have presented an interesting alternative.I had a stingy relative who used to gift me torn one rupee note before leaving.As a boy I had the patience to attach the torn portion and ensure that the numbers were visible.It took a magician in me to exchange the note.Currently the problem of money laundering is solved by depositing the notes in some temple hundi.Interesting article.SLN
     
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  8. SunPa

    SunPa Platinum IL'ite

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    @Rihana , so beautifully written - makes me go down the memory lane and recall the the beautiful dirty , crumpled notes. Never washed them though, never even thought I could. I would have enjoyed that.

    I also googled about the currency notes of the country I live in. And boy, did I learn a thing or two!

    So thank you and thanks to your Kaaku.
     
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  9. joylokhi

    joylokhi Platinum IL'ite

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    This was really news to me! Seeing the title i presumed it was about the money laundering of some politician you would be writing about! Thoroughly enjoyed the snippet. I used to wonder too, how notes left in pant pockets dumped in the washing machine come out clean and unscathed . Good one.
     
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  10. kkrish

    kkrish IL Hall of Fame

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    @Rihana
    Given the current goings-on in the world I was ready to enjoy some spicy news.

    Instead you gave some delicious chocolate ice cream that was pure joy to read, and read again and again. Oh, Liril, Rexona, Hamam, ... those green soaps. When I fist moved to the US i bought Irish Spring just because it took me closest to those green soaps I left at home.

    But even sweeter was visualizing little girl Rihana. I imagined the little girl with two braids and a frock who always had a spring in her step.

    When I was a little girl I asked my dad how money did not tear when they were left in the pockets and washed. He did inform me that there was fabric interwoven for that specific reason... it changes too many hands during its lifetime.

    Here is a video for those interested. A long one though.
     
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