Thursday, January 29, 2009

Money Sense!

The Chinese New Year tradition of giving and receiving ‘ang pows’, the little red packets containing some money, as a gesture of goodwill in wishing one another a prosperous year is still very much alive.  Perhaps, one of the best age old Chinese new year traditions ever, besides the family re-union dinner on Chinese New Year’s eve in the lunar calendar.


Both my dear wife and I, being married, do have our share of giving and receiving the ‘ang pows’ irrespective of our ages too. I, for one, still receive my share of ‘ang pows’ from my elderly relatives. Both Hong and I would happily give out ‘ang pows’, to the younger generation and in particular, the elderly relatives too, as a mark of our respect and gratitude to the elders.


Over the past several years, I would dutifully, go to the banks to withdraw and change the new currency notes of One, Five, Ten and Fifty Ringgit denominations. Hong and I would, before the Chinese New Year, ‘pack’ the ‘ang pows’ with the various new currency notes in different denominations. Now, with the loss of my sight since a year ago, it suddenly dawned upon me a new challenge in learning how to identify and differentiate the currency notes of different denominations.


In the early days after I lost my sight, I felt distressed each time I had to handle the ringgit notes as I could not figure out the different denominations. Much as I tried feeling the numbers at the corners which I thought was where it would indicate the difference, I was grossly disappointed much to my chagrin. I asked my V.I.Ps friends (Visually Impaired Persons) about the ways or methods to differentiate the currency denominations. The friends were more than happy to share and ‘show’ me the methods employed by them. The Five Ringgit note is the easiest to distinguish because of its plastic based material, is obviously easily recognizable through feel. The One Ringgit note, the smallest in size i.e. in length and width, is usually used as a template gauge to measure and to compare the other Ten and Fifty currency notes. From past experience, I found that the most difficult task was to identify the Ten and the Fifty currency notes. There was minimal difference in length and width between the Ten and the Fifty currency notes. Thus, it was not easy for me to feel the difference. Well, I am happy to report that after the recent ‘lots of practice’ in packing the little red packets, my feel has certainly improved and I am able to differentiate between the Ten and Fifty currency notes. However, I would feel more secured to have the currency notes, especially the Tens and Fifties marked, e.g. folding the corners of the Tens or Fifties for easy identification when I am out on my own with friends. Recently too, I received a currency note identification tool, a neat little gift from Bank Negara, a plastic template  in which the currency note can be placed and folded into position.  The Braille numbering imprinted on the plastic template next to the edge of the currency note can be read to identify the denomination.  But unfortunately, I am not Braille literate! Learning Braille is definitely a challenge and an important priority in my agenda for this year.


More challenging times ahead!

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