The Rare One

If the value of the three paisa coin has appreciated, then I am perhaps responsible for the fortunes of another girl 😀

Coin Album
Coin Album With An Index

I loved collecting coins as a kid. I’m not sure when and how it began. Perhaps it was the discovery of a small bag of coins at home, or a few foreign ones left behind by visiting relatives. At first, it was restricted to ten paisa coins and cents – we had an abundant supply of them.

As word spread of my interest in coins, friends and family members, who had been travelling abroad, generously donated currency. I was even given a coin album. It had clear plastic sheets with small pockets to store individual coins. I arranged my coins and added small notes about the country, year, and the symbol and slogans on the coins.

Three Paise
Three Paisa Coin

I had big plans! I thought the collection would grow very large. So using my foresight, I made an index of the countries and currencies to manage the treasure.

I even began keeping coins and notes, which were still in use – I was a ten-year old, and I was already investing in currency!

Close Up Of Page
Close Up Of Page

Even as different countries resided within my book, I discovered coins in my own home – one, two, and three paisa coins. I had only one one-paisa coin. But I was more delighted with the three paisa coins. Three was an unusual denomination for a coin, and I took pride in owning two of them!

I spent nothing, and yet owned a lot. My successful collection, soon got to my head. I boasted about the large variety of coins I possessed – far more than I should have. Once, I even took some coins to school, as proof. And that’s when it happened.

A classmate of mine was very impressed with my coins. She asked, in the nicest possible way, ‘Can I take one of these?’

And like a fool, I gave it to her. To this day, I regret that action. I could have traded it for something else – but no! I had to act magnanimous. That’s what happens when you allow ten-year olds to handle so much money!

One Paisa
Holy Coin! One Paisa

A few years later, deep within the depths of my eldest aunt’s huge cupboard, I uncovered a gem – the 1 pice coin. It was older than the Indian democracy, and it had a hole in it! Nothing could have been better than that.

I’m sure there are lots of people who collect coins – and would buy old coins like the one with the hole. In old Delhi, I found coin sellers selling such antique coins on the pavement. The realisation, that the coins I had, were all gifted to me, made me feel great. But my coin collecting days were numbered.

The European Union was formed, and I grew up. The album was relegated to the cupboard, and my collection, nothing more than a lost memory.

A chance discovery of some coins in a piggy bank made me pull out my album, and I found that my foresight was rather too great. I had one, two, and five rupee coins and notes stashed up inside – which I could still use today! Time to add the ten rupee coins I suppose 😀

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I had posted some photographs of coins a few weeks back. One of my favourite bloggers, pointed out the scarcity of the three paisa coin… This story was supposed to be a part of that post, but now, is also in response to that comment, and today’s prompt on The Daily Post!

Hobbies Stories

From Grandfather, With Love

My grandfather was the eldest in his family. We were his youngest grandchildren. The age difference between us is almost nine decades!

My grandfather’s life was very eventful. It could be said, that he lead a full life. He was a professor in the Burmese University, joined the Army during the world war, served in the foreign service thereafter. Then he helped establish one of the leading heart institutes of the country, where he worked till his last breath.

He had several hobbies. He occasionally undertook carpentry, and even tried his hand at bee-keeping. But the one hobby that lasted the longest, was photography.

None of his photographs prior to the second world war survived – the family had to leave Burma (modern Myanmar), and several possessions were lost.

All his photographs from 1945 onwards, however, were carefully pasted in a book – thick black pages bound together, with beautiful photographs chronicling the life of his children, and even some important people of the times . He developed most of his photographs himself. And he took great pains arranging them in the album, and putting captions for them. He had the foresight to know that other people will one day look at the album with no clue as to who’s in the pictures! The album is showing signs of ageing, and rarely comes out of the cupboard. But when it does, it takes us back in time, to another world.

My grandfather’s love for photography was inherited by my father, who bought a range-finder – spending almost a month’s salary on it. Point-and-shoot or compact cameras never entered our house. From our father, that passion passed onto us. Like our father and grandfather, my brother’s love for photography is serious.

Digital photography had begun entering the market by the time I was old enough to be trusted with the film camera. And my father’s old range-finder was the only one I ever used before my brother’s DSLR entered our lives.

“Extend your palm,” said my aunt to my brother during one of our visits. “I’ve been wanting to give this to you for a long time. It might be useful to you. It belonged to your grandfather,” she said.

She placed a cylindrical leather pouch in his outstretched palm. Like a child unwrapping his gift, my brother’s face lit up with excitement, when he realised, what it was, that he had inherited.

It was my grandfather’s tripod.

“It looks absolutely new!”

No one knows how old the tripod is, but it is, at the very least, seventy years old! And we know that only because the tripod features in one of the pictures my grandfather took of his youngest son – our father.

I have no living memory of my grandfather, and I often wish I had been born earlier – or he had lived longer – so that I may have been able to converse with him. But every time I take a picture, or look at that tripod, I can’t help but think he’s around us – always encouraging us to continue documenting life.

Related links:
Free Bird – A story I wrote in memory of my grandmother (featured in the SHEROES #SheWrites Anthology on Juggernaut)
R. Karthik’s Flickr Photostream