I read a lot of books – actual, physical books with pages made out of paper. Over the years, I’ve used a variety of different bookmarks. My goals in finding a bookmark were always pretty consistent. It had to be flat, of course – I didn’t want to damage the book’s spine by putting something thick inside it. It needed to be durable – no one wants to have to find a new bookmark after finishing every book. It couldn’t be too expensive – I’d hate to fret over losing it, since its only purpose was temporary.
About five years ago, I finally stumbled across the perfect bookmark, at least for me: paper money. It happened on a trip to India. I was using my boarding pass to mark my place in a book I had started reading on the plane. I made a purchase and, when I received my change, I got back a 10 Rupee note – the equivalent of about 20 cents.
As I looked at this bill, I realized it was ideal. Paper money is designed to be durable – it needs to last through years of usage, being folded or crumpled without easily tearing. Since it’s made of paper, it’s the ideal size.
In most western countries, the denominations of paper currency don’t meet the “inexpensive” goal. Euros, British Pounds, and Canadian dollars use coins for every amount less than about five U.S. dollars. The U.S. dollar bill is fine, though not terribly interesting. In India, it was different –10 Rupee and 20 Rupee notes equate to 20 or 40 cents.
When I traveled to Vietnam for the first time earlier this year, I found new options: 1000 Dong and 2000 Dong notes are equivalent to about 5 or 10 cents.
As an extra bonus, using currency from a country I’ve visited can make a great conversation starter. In addition, since it reminds me of my travels, it makes me smile.