Scooter
The man saved the money for months, setting aside loose change for his scooter Image Credit: Ali Arif Soydas

I cheered for an Indian shopkeeper who made his dream come true about buying a scooter, and he saved for it for a long time … in coins, somewhat like my mother-in-law.

The man carried his savings in a sack to the two-wheeler showroom and a manager is quoted as saying that it took the salesmen about three hours to count the sack full of coins worth about Rupees 22,000 (Dirham 1076, $293).

A video about his story went viral on social media and it shows three men carrying the sack into the showroom and a picture shows plastic tubs full of shiny coins on the floor of the showroom.

The rest of the amount was paid through financing, says the online report. A scooter costs about Rupees 78,000 to Rupees 1.25 lakh (Dh3816 to Dh5014).

The shopkeeper said he had saved the money for months, setting aside loose change for his dream machine.

How to make money work for you

Which brings me to my father; he was a great engineer, brilliant in math, he was also financially illiterate (just as most everybody today, as the schools teach you how to get a job but do not give you the skill on how to save tons of money by the power of compounding, or how to make money work for you and give you a passive income) but he got me a savings bank that looked porcine and made me put away loose change in the bank, through a slot on the top.

It’s another story that he also made me into one of those mean scrooges that are close-fisted and who never trust anybody with their money, when one day I caught him with his hands in my savings bank. “I need change for the rickshaw,” he said, unperturbed.

When my mother-in-law passed away, she left behind many interesting things, including humungous plastic bottles of Horlicks — that looked like the huge buckets of whey protein body builders buy to build up their muscles — full of coins, hidden away in an almirah.

(An almirah is just a fancy word for a free-standing wardrobe. It is made of steel and can be found in very Indian household as it doubles up as a safe, because Indian women do not trust anyone with their gold jewellery)

It’s another story that a bunch of robbers got into my wife’s home in Delhi late at night, slowly lowered the almirah on to a blanket and dragged it away outside while the whole household slept.

My wife gave me her inheritance of coins, and luckily it was one of those years when coins were in short supply in the market and shops were desperate for loose change.

Dirt on the coins

I sat up for many nights and counted the coins until my fingertips turned black from the dirt on the coins. Our driver and I carried the huge plastic bottles to a shop we frequent and handed it to the cashier. Like a good businessman he did not trust me or the amount I had scribbled on a piece of paper and had handed it to him.

He called three young guys from the back shop and asked them to count the coins. The three looked at me incredulously and must have cursed me in their minds, because nobody, really nobody goes shopping with tons of coins.

The guys were fast and they completed counting the whole barrel of coins within 30 minutes, while it had taken me the whole night, and later in my dreams as I slept, all I could see were my coins being stolen by crows or those crazy birds that steal shiny things, and I woke up in a sweat and I remember desperately running on rooftops after the birds.

There were six huge plastic bottles of coins and I spaced them out not wanting to give the young guys regrets that they had joined the retail sector instead of the cool food catering industry.

I finally got Rupees 754 (Dh36) in notes, and the next day I caught my wife peering into my wallet. “I need to tip the food delivery guy,” she said, without any guilt in her voice.

Mahmood Saberi is a storyteller and blogger based in Bengaluru, India. Twitter: @mahmood_saberi