ATMs run dry during last-day Deepavali shopping rush at T Nagar
By Daniel Thimmayya | Express News Service | Published: 31st October 2013 08:22 PM |
It wasn't the store clerks, Ranganathan Street tailors or the pavement vendors in T Nagar who cracked first under the strain of last-minute Deepavali shoppers. Every ATM in the crowded area, beat them to it. With thousands of people, who had left their Deepavali clothes shopping pending till now, descending on the area, money in almost all the ATM machines had run dry before dusk fell.
"People started coming from the station and the bus terminus after 2.30 pm. Things were normal till then, but after that the crowd just kept on growing, wanting to draw money for purchases," said Kanniah, a guard at the ATM of a nationalised bank on Usman Road, pointing at the heap of transaction slips lying on the floor. With footfalls rivalling that of most clothes emporiums near it, the machine ran out of funds and had a 'Sorry For The Inconvenience' message flashing on its screen by 5.45 pm. Kanniah said that he had been pointing people to other ATMs in T Nagar only to be met by dismal looks on shoppers' faces, "Most of them had tried all these other ATMs already. Young people just don't carry cash these days," he added disdainfully.
This was pretty much the scene at most of the other ATMs in Pondy Bazaar and Usman Road, as the largely lower-middle class crowd continued to build well beyond 8 pm. If at all any ATM had a serpentine queue outside, it meant that it had been refilled with money recently.
"Normally I would have swiped the card but in large textile shops there is a line of 30-40 people waiting to swipe cards. And most often the card gets declined or swiped twice, so even the shop assistants advise us to use cash," said Nitin, who had brought his cousins and sister all the way from Perumbakkam.
With the cops estimating the crowd in T Nagar to easily be upwards of 6000 till 7 pm, it goes without saying that the 'dismal-till-date' Deepavali scene really picked up up on Thursday night. What it also did was cause an almighty traffic jam that motorists won't forget for a while, "It took an hour to cross the Usman road flyover and finally the Police told us that the crowd is too much and asked us to turn left and reach Mount Road through Burkit Road," said Snehan who was heading towards his house in Saidapet. Similar jams were reported in shopping hubs like Purasalwakam, Broadway and malls like Phoenix Marketcity as well.
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