e-Wallets: Language No Bar
January 16, 2017 . 723 views
For as long as I can remember, my grandmother and her little money pouch have been inseparable.
“Always leave the house with some money. You never know when you’ll need it,” she would say.
When demonetisation happened, I could see how painful it was for her to part from her stash. We mock-offered to teach her to use e-wallets and she would brush it off with a casual wave. “Do you see me make sense of those instructions?” she’d keep asking.
Then, a couple of days back on one of my trips down south, I witnessed something that changed my outlook. Nani had to have an e-wallet account of her own!
It’s criminal to take a trip across South India and not indulge in some gorgeous silk-saree shopping. I was browsing through a store, when a lady entered with a beautiful red and gold saree in her hands.
She walked up to the salesman and asked for the price of the saree.
Sometimes, things in plain sight are so easy to miss. I couldn’t figure out why the salesman looked so lost. And then it hit me. The lady had spoken in Hindi and he probably didn’t understand her!
She gestured and asked him again, this time in English. “How much?” The salesman replied in what I assumed to be Malayalam. It was now the lady’s turn to be confused.
The salesman realised sticking to English and gestures was a better idea and quickly showed her the price tag on the saree. “2500,” he said and smiled.
I remembered shopping in China and watching vendors communicate with tourists using calculators. I had found it quite amusing back then.
Not one to pry, I probably should’ve returned to my shopping. But the whole exchange was weirdly fascinating, and had now encountered quite an unprecedented roadblock.
The lady was short of cash and looked a tad bit embarrassed. The good salesman quickly conveyed to her that she could pay via e-wallet too.
The lady looked confusingly at her phone. She had the app, but didn’t know how to use it.
Our generation swears by e-wallets. Whether we’re paying for cabs, utility bills, ordering food or shopping, e-wallets are quite handy. More so, when you’re someone who forgets their wallet at home all the time or never has exact change. Our elders, on the other hand, are connoisseurs of cash and are still figuring out how to use e-wallets.
I decided to intervene and offer my help. But before I could excuse myself and make my way towards them, the salesman was already handing the lady her shopping bag. She smiled gratefully, thanked him and left.
Now this was intriguing!
Clearly, they are easy to use if two people who couldn’t understand each other managed to transact using one, right?
Here’s how they did it!
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