Solving the New Cash Problem (Over Wine and Cheese) For Central Asia Tour

With only a week to go, Carol and I figured we better get our cash together so we made plans to meet at Carol’s place to see if, between us, we could come up with $3,000 worth of new bills in the appropriate denominations.

You can look out over Milennium Park to the Lake from the deck of Carol’s condo in the heart of downtown Chicago. Carol spread the money on the round patio table in neat piles of ones, fives, and twenties. For a change the “windy” city was without wind and we felt confident a breeze wouldn’t come along to scatter our hard found cash over the green rooftops below. The
glasses of Shiraz were set to one side. The tens, fifties and hundreds remained in their respective envelopes at our respective seats since we each had enough of those.

Carol began counting softly—one-two-three-four-five, one-two-three-four-five--handing each set of five over to me for verification. The one dollar bills were the worst. They stuck together and we wished we had the rubber fingers that bankers use. Strangely the fives and twenties didn’t seem to be as sticky. It seemed as if they were made of a different material.

The ones and fives that Carol had brought me were still wrapped and I appreciated getting them. In return I gave her the not-so-good ones and fives that I had bought from the banks that I had gone to previously. She would return these along with the tens, fifties and hundreds I didn’t need to the bank the next day. Then came the twenties. Carol had 30 new bills. We split them. Then we went through both of our piles of not so good bills, selected the best ten and split them.

We’d done it. Or so we hoped.

Time for the wine, the Wisconsin cheese that I had brought from my last trip to Galena, and the bruchetta Carol had picked up at Mariannas.  We looked out at the lake and toasted “The Cash Economy.”

Filed under: Central Asia

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    Carolyn Boiarsky

    " I am an American," but not "Chicago born" like Augie March. Only Chicago aged. I'd like to think that if Henry Louis Gates were to investigate my geneology, he would discover in my past three women who traveled around the globe, chronicling their adventures. Sarah Kemble Knight traveled 112 miles by carriage from Boston to New York in 1704, a journey most women did not embark on alone (and men did so only with some trepidation). In fact, women were only just beginning to exercise their independence in the 1920's when Emily Kimbrough took off with her friend, Cornelia Otis Skinner, to explore Europe. But it is Auntie Mame, transforming herself from a New Yorker to the wife of an Austrian Baron and climbing the Matterhorn, whose mantra I have adopted. "LIFE IS A BANQUET...LIVE!" I began travelling in the 1960's when I traveled around western Europe between graduating from the Univiersity of Pennsylvania and my first job as a statehouse correspondent for UPI (United Press International) in Charleston, West Virginia, which was about as foreign a place as Europe was to someone who grew up in the environs of Philadelphia. Since then, I've also travelled to Kaunas, Lithuania, to teach at Vytautus Magnus University and to Sheffield, England, to present a paper at an engineering conference. I've been to the Alps and seen Auntie Mame's Matterhorn while climbing, by a series of cable cars rather than by foot, toward the peak of Mont Blanc. For the past 10 years my husband and I have been traveling to unique places: a sheep farm during lambing season in England's Lake Country, a hotel on one of the Barromeo Islands in the middle of Lake Maggiore in Northern Italy, and a cottage in Dun Quin on the Dingle Peninsula which the Irish claim is the last parish before Boston. Between excursions, I'm a professor in the Department of English at Purdue University Calumet in Hammond, Indiana,. My husband passed away recently and, Auntie Mame-style, I am in the process of transforming myself. Last year I joined a tour to Central Asia. This year I'm going to China to work with the pandas. A new adventure. Another banquet.

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