Somewhere down the road, the year 2016 ran away from us. It  feels like just yesterday that we were living in a world where Leicester City Football Club could never really be crowned Champions of England, where Donald Trump could never become US president, J Jayalalithaa could never be elected for a second successive as Tamil Nadu’s chief minister. And all through this, we were paying for goods and services with crisp Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes.

So you can imagine our surprise when we were informed — by first, post and later, email — by the powers-that-be that the year was about to end. If that wasn’t shocking enough to us at FP Special Forces, imagine our distress when we were informed that we had to submit an article about the shining star of 2016. 

After several minutes of fretting, frowning and trying to construct all sorts of excuses — including, but not limited to the creation of imaginary diseases that we had inexplicably contracted — to get out of doing any work, our crack investigative reportage specialist took up the challenge. And not just ‘took up the challenge’, but secured a super-ultra-mega-hyper-exclusive interview with the star herself himself itself. It was the most obvious choice. After all, who else could it be?

The ATM.

Loosely-edited and only slightly embellished excerpts of the interview follow:

Interviewing-ATM1_380Interviewing-ATM1_380Hello,… Errr… Do you speak English?

Hello to you too. Of course, I speak English. I also speak Hindi. And sometimes, I speak a variety of local languages. You’ve caught me on a good day, because today, I speak Marathi too.

Great. What was the first thought that went through your mind when you heard you were the star of 2016?

Wow. I’m still doing my very best to let that sink in. You know-… pffffffrrrrrrrtttt 

Excuse me?

I do apologise. That was terrible behaviour on my part. It’s just that when people need cash, especially in these trying times, I must sacrifice etiquette and manners for speed and dispense their notes as quickly as I can.

Don’t worry about it. Has anyone ever told you that you’re extremely polite?

Not lately, no. But it’s alright. People have a lot on their minds. The way I see it, the least I can do is be polite when I have so many people lining up to see me on a daily basis.

I was going to mention that: It’s not that you weren’t in demand earlier, but your popularity seems to have really soared towards the end of 2016.

Yes, it was my 15 seconds of fame-…

How about 50 days of fame?

(laughs) Yes, quite right. That’s very topical.

Thank you.

My popularity, as you put it, did soar. It was rather unexpected and in fact, took me by surprise. Having people queue up like that to see me everyday was like a dream. I doubt Amitabh Bachchan has as many people queuing up outside his bungalow. Even when I was exhausted, or rather it was my supplies that were exhausted for the day, they still stood around, waiting and cursing their bad luck that they didn’t get a chance to see me up close and personal. I don’t recall a time when I’ve given out as many autographs as I did these past weeks. In fact, I regularly ran out of paper on which to give out personalised messages.

You mean receipts?

Yes. But most of all, I was just doing my job. You know the adage ‘time is money, money is time’?

Well, time is money, when you’re queuing so long.

Right you are. I was, however, slightly saddened at the sort of anger aimed in my direction during the two days that I was unwell and unable to meet the people lining up in front of me.

That’s right. You were ‘out of service’ for the two days after the prime minister’s address to the nation, were you not?

I was. Frankly, it was a case of terrible indigestion. Realising that everything inside me had turned into scrap or waste overnight was enough to make me terribly unwell. But I believe I bounced back quite well.

Well, that’s a matter of opinion.

Alright, it took me some time to get back on my feet. Having said that, I realise I don’t have feet. But it took me some time to get back to normal, but then it would take you as long if you had undergone a procedure as serious as the one I underwent. For you, it would be a bit like a procedure that changed you in a way that you went from peeing standing up to peeing-…

Right. The recalibration process. I understand. You don’t need to continue with that metaphor. But how difficult was the transition?

To be honest, things were a lot easier later. Let me tell you, those thin new notes are so easy to dispense. They’re like a dream. And so bright and flashy. You know you’ll never misplace a Rs 2,000 note.

How long do you think this popularity of yours is going to last?

Well, you never know. Your prime minister is scheduled to make some big announcements on New Year’s Eve and he just might say something that boosts my popularity even more. Maybe, I’ll be dispensing something apart from notes. Maybe I’ll be sent on paid vacation for a few months. Who knows?

In fact, I don’t see it (how long popularity lasts) that way at all. I plan to make the most of it for as long as it lasts.

A paid vacation?

Yes, I’ve always wanted to see the world: India Gate, Machu Picchu, the Louvre, Silicon Valley, Nala Sopara-…

Wait. Nala Sopara?

Well, you get the idea.

Not really. But let’s continue.

Actually, let’s not. There’s far too long a queue behind you. Do you want to withdraw some money? Maybe an autograph?

Got any Rs 100 notes?

No. NEXT!!

First Published On : Dec 30, 2016 14:53 IST

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Year in Review 2016: A world exclusive interview with the real star of this year