Fiona Fernandez: Banking on God

Updated: Dec 26, 2016, 08:14 IST | Fiona Fernandez

The impact of demonetisation seemed to have impacted Christmas in curiously diverse ways

Bank of Blessings, an innovative crib at the church on demonetisation
Bank of Blessings, an innovative crib at the church on demonetisation

At the morning service in the freshly painted St Pius X parish church, sunlight from the stained glass panels atop the altar had a heavenly, prism-like effect. It was a beautiful, nippy Christmas morning to soak it all in. During sermon, the main celebrant drew our attention to demonetization (it’s clearly been a hot topic for a while) and how banks had now become the centrepoint of all our lives; he went on to invite the congregation to go out and do the same about their faith, making god the hub of all their activities. Examples were shared, with engaging contextual analogies in light of the current financial landscape. We scanned the church, and noticed that the youth in particular seemed cued in. The chronic ‘whatsapping’ had actually taken a backseat.

The celebrant mentioned another novel innovation about the manger scene that made everyone sit up and take note. Without giving away too much, he egged on everyone to drop by, not before reminding all that it was not a gimmick but a genuine sign of our times, and its influence on our lives. Curious, we made a dash to the spot in the church complex, post the service. It was unlike anything we’d seen before in all our years of crib-spotting. Selfies were flashing furiously to catch a glimpse of the nativity scene tableau. It was set up in a bank, the Bank of Blessings to be precise. The intent and the idea seemed to be a hit as parishioners flocked to the spot. There was an ATM even, with a serpentine queue, except that this one stood for Adore The Messiah. “Baba, come now let’s rush to the real ATM,” we heard one middle-aged woman tell another.

There were other signs around demonetisation and Christmas. A lightning-quick trail through Bandra during last week revealed that the bonhomie and the fervor was intact. The festive back lanes, where ferry lights and streamers crisscrossed street ends made us smile, and yet as we wormed our way through a sea of vendors and hawkers selling Christmas wares and decorations, they mentioned that things had taken a hit. By the time we found our Christmas tree, we hesitated to make a bargain assuming he wasn’t the ‘type’ who wouldn’t keep a swipe machine. Reading our mind, he removed his card machine in a jiffy, and put all our fears to rest. Phew. “Sab set hai, madam; bijness ka sawal hai” he said reassuringly.

Curious to dig deeper about the aftershocks of the D-word, we made our way to the local cold storage cum bakery cum supermart. Here too petty cash supplies had been hit. “Not every supplier accepts debit or credit cards at Crawford, for wholesale buys,” the shop owner rued. Yet, to ensure that life had to go on during peak Christmas season, he was taking every possible measure — like sourcing more cashless suppliers, and tapping into home chefs to ensure it was a merry affair. The marzipans and the broiler chicken had met with their strict deadlines, after all.

All involved seemed to have weathered the gusty Christmastime storm, clearly. Like Noah and his ark. Easter should be a breeze.

A peaceful, joyous, and VFM Christmas to all our readers.

mid-day’s Features Editor Fiona Fernandez relishes the city’s sights, sounds, smells and stones...wherever the ink and the inclination takes her. She tweets @bombayana. Send your feedback to mailbag@mid-day.com

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