"Purchased a kg of banana chips here yesterday. Gave a five hundred rupee note mistaking that it's a hundred." Said the thirty something thinly moustached man, looking a bit worried, trying to smile ingratiatingly. "Did anyone here notice that? Could you give the remaining back?"
It's Calicut's most famous place for banana chips. A tiny makeshift room, asbestos covered, five or six healthy sweaty half clad men slicing yellowish raw bananas at lightning speed. Thin gummy slices continue to stick together for an extra second in the air. The second they fall into those large drums, turmeric water makes them float, now each one on its own, and the yellow is yellower. The slices remain in the water for some time, till the stickiness goes fully, before being fried in the pan. Thick green skins of the used bananas laid piled up on the pavement almost protruding to the road.
A middle aged man in a white shirt and dhoti was the proprietor. He said that when they notice an irregularity like this, they do make a note of it and return the remaining amount if some one comes up later. But he doesn't remember any anomalous transaction taking place yesterday. The young man simply repeated whatever he said, his voice feebler.
I was curious how this would end. If the owner had asserted that he wouldn't be able to do anything about a past transaction, that would settle the issue, though that would disappoint one party altogether. But he didn't do that. The young man could have left on his own as the shop people say that they do not remember any such transaction. He didn't do that either.
"Why don't you come tomorrow evening, and we'll sort this out", said the proprietor suddenly. He showed his ring with a picture of his guru, and continued: "I'll toss a coin tonight when I do the puja. Let the guru decide, and I'll go by that." Surprisingly, perhaps not so surprisingly, the young man looked happy. Everyone was happy.
I got my packs by that time. Packs of fresh hot banana chips straight from the pan. It costed two hundred rupees. I had two one hundred and two five hundred bills with me. I would have typically changed a five hundred bill there as it's good to have enough change when you go to other shops. I couldn't resist smiling while I was exhausting the hundred bills instead.