“I’m David Heymann, with the smallpox program in Calcutta. I’ve got some things for you. As you know, the plane only goes up once a week to Siliguri, and the current epidemiologist who is posted in the three districts is leaving in one week. He only has one week to introduce you to district authorities and orient you. Since you are heading straight up to Siliguri and bypassing the office, I came here to bring you some cash.”
He was carrying a dark brown, soft leather suitcase about the size of a small messenger bag, about fourteen inches square and eight inches deep. He unlatched the top and then flicked it open and shut rapidly. Oh my God! I thought. There were thousands of small bills crammed in the suitcase!
David said, “Let’s go to the back of the room, behind those large pillars there. I don’t have much time, and I need to give you these funds, but first I have to count it in front of you; then you will need to count to make sure it’s the correct amount.”
I said, “Are you crazy? We’re in an airport waiting room. There are hundreds of people here. We’re going to count money behind a pillar?”
“Connie, we don’t have much choice here. The program has no way of getting funds to you in Jalpaiguri. There are no banks. You need to carry cash. The bills need to be small, because no one will be able to change big bills in Jalpaiguri,” said David.
“How much money are you giving me?”
“This suitcase has five thousand dollars in ten-rupee notes.”
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