How many agorots to a shekel?
Money isn't everything: usually it isn't even enough.
"I don't know much about money," I objected. Writing about things I don't know is not my cup of tea, so I was dubious about the suggestion that I write about money. "I do know how to write cheques," I conceded.
That is about all I know or do about money matters, anyhow.
Later though, thinking about it, I decided that I was doing myself an injustice. While it is true I don't know much about money (it is, ultimately, numbers and I don't do numbers), I realised I do know quite a lot about money, too- things most people wouldn't know at all.
Take synonyms, for instance. I know a lot of synonyms for money: cash, coin, pelf, lucre, funds, riches, wealth, capital… or slang terms tin, dosh, loot, brass, bread, dough, ready, rhino, moolah, readies, shekels, spondulicks (ha!), wherewithal…
All this is trivia, I agree. It is knowledge gained from a lifetime of doing crosswords. But it is still knowledge. When a compiler decides on money or currencies as a theme, one scrambles and learns in a hurry.
My readers can reel off currencies better than I can, I am sure. Dollars, euro, yen, yuan, and more, and they can probably tell me exchange rates too. But while I can't tell you how many groszys there are in a zloty, I can tell you they are Polish currency. I can figure out rial, riyal, riel, krone, krona and kroner for clues. I can tell you stotinka is a Bulgarian coin.
I know that apart from being a body part and a punctuation mark, colon is a currency unit of Costa Rica and El Salvador. As is lek Albania's, pengo Hungary's, obang Japan's, and dong Vietnam's.
There are the evocative names, pfennigs (Germany), bugshas (Yemen), and zaichik (Belarus). There are thalers, abbreviated from Emmanthalers, from which came the dollar. There are the old English coins- bobs, royals and crowns; tanners and florins; and the improbable sounding dandiprat.
But all this doesn't mean much, so I objected, "I don't know much about money."
Being Nilu, he only said, "that's why." All the more reason I should write about it was what he meant.
"Reminds me of my son. There was one time, he was a little boy then, he wanted me to buy something. I said I didn't have the money. He said, well, go to the bank and buy some money."
"That's all there is," said Nilu. We laughed.
But, writing cheques is unreal, as is the world of crossword clues of kyats, pesos and korunas. The money I collect in my piggy bank and change to bank notes though, now that always feels real.