Hindi Language Blog

Asking for Small Change Posted by on Oct 10, 2017 in Hindi Language

In many large towns in India, small change or छुट्टा (chutta) is coveted and guarded currency that people part with sparingly and reluctantly. It is the currency of daily business with the autorickshaw driver, the vegetable vendor, the bus conductor, and even grocery shopping in supermarkets.

“Please give me exact change,” मैडम छुट्टा दीजिये (Madam chutta dijiye) is a common refrain that not only irritates me, but also turns on some subconscious alerts that I hear from my parents all the time.

“Don’t give chutta as soon as they ask for it. … First, say you don’t have change. Let THEM give change.” I roll my eyes. How can a vendor, businessman, small-shop owner have that much change for his daily business? “They do,” my parents assure me knowingly.  And every time I get ready to step out for errands, I hear “Do you have change? 1 rupee, 2 rupee coins, 5 rupee coins, … ” and a fistful of coins is scooped from a coin jar and spooned into my hands.

For all the eye-rolling I do, I’m glad they insist on giving me this little lesson every time. For if you go to Mumbai, you will find that small change is not only in demand but also hoarded by many people in the fear that you will be refused services for failing to provide small change. In Bangalore, my stop rolled in before the conductor could “collect” enough change for my large bill.

It’s a vicious cycle.

In fact, there is such a shortage of small change that many stores will return your change in kind. For e.g., 1 candy in lieu of Re. 1, and so forth. This  is not only irksome, but unfair. Bollywood actor Nana Patekar features in a popular a video that criticizes and discourages this practice of “kind” currency that leaves the consumer with no choice but to keep consuming “chocolates/candy” or forfeit the change.

Here are some handy phrases to use if you find yourself caught with(out) change 🙂

मैडम छुट्टा दीजिये।
(Madam, chutta dijiye.)
Ma’am, please give me exact change.

Me: (pretending to rummage feverishly through your purse while steering clear of the “change pouch”:
अरे मेरे पास छुट्टा नहीं है।
(Arre, mere paas chutta nahin hai.)
I don’t have any change.

२ रु छुट्टा होगा ?
(Do rupaiye chutta hoga?)
Would you happen to have Rs. 2 change?

Me: (exasperated)
नहीं है भैय्या।
(Nahin hai, bhaiyya.)
No, I don’t have any.

सॉरी मैडम मेरे पास छुट्टा नहीं है। टॉफ़ी चलेगा?
(Sorry madam, mere paas chutta nahin hai. Toffee chalega?)
Sorry  ma’am, I don’t have change (either). Will a toffee/candy work as change?

Me :
रुको मैं फिरसे देखती हूँ। अच्छा चलो मिल गया। यह लो।
(Ruko, main phirse dekhti hoon. Accha chalo mil gaya. Yeh lo.)
Hold on, let me check again. Oh here, I found some change. )

छुट्टा chutta change
दीजिये dijiye please give; dena = to give
मेरे पास mere paas with me
नहीं है nahin hai not there/don’t have
होगा hoga would/could be; might have
चलेगा chalega will walk (lit.)
that’s fine/that works (fig.)
रुको ruko stop (lit.)
hold on/wait (fig.)
फिरसे phirse again
देखती हूँ dekhti hoon let me see
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About the Author: Nitya

Namaste, friends. My name is Nitya. I was born and raised in Mumbai (formerly Bombay). I'm a native Hindi speaker. However, as life took me through school, college, work, and waves of friends from different parts of India, my repertoire of Hindi flavors and dialects grew and added dimension to my native fluency. Casual, formal, colloquial, and regional ... Hindi is a language with incredible variety and localization. Through this blog, I will help you learn Hindi through conversations, vocabulary, colloquialisms, and glimpses of Indian culture. आओ, मिलकर हिंदी सीखते हैं। (Aao, milkar Hindi seekhte hain!) Come, let's learn Hindi together.


  1. Rajesh Thakker:

    thanks for sharing this is really needed in India