All this started when his daughter was around eight. “She had a sparkle in her eyes whenever I used to come back from a trip. She was always fascinated by the currency I used to bring along with me,” says Harsh Lambah, the country manager at Regus, India. Lambah, who has worked with Western Union and Money Gram earlier, says his passion of collecting currencies from various countries is largely due to his previous job. “I travelled very frequently when I was with Money Gram. That’s how I ended up carrying a huge amount of currency back home,” he explains, as he looks at one of his albums.
Lambah’s interest in currency collection started when his daughter appreciated its beauty and diversity. Every time he came back from a visit, he would open the envelope and showcase all he got. “It was like a ritual every time I came home,” he says. The father-daughter duo always found time to research about every currency he added to the album. “We discussed how every currency was different from each other. Each one shows the cultural and traditional value of the country,” says Lambah. It’s been over six years since he began actively pursuing this passion and he currently has currency from over 170 nations. “My daughter and I have categorised and labelled them,” he says, while reminiscing how the whole process has left father and daughter with moments to cherish.
Lambah says that while his daughter was not interested in the hobby after a while, he was clearly addicted. “I started loving collecting currencies. After covering 30-40 countries, I wanted to collect many more. I also have made it a point to not simply buy currency but bring it back from wherever I travel. While it is time-consuming, the experience is wonderful,” he says as he reveals how he used to ask his colleagues in every country to get the same for him. “Later, they themselves started collecting currency and gave it to me when they came back,” he adds.
This passion became an integral part of all his trips. “It started as a hobby and then became one of the things that I’m really passionate about,” he says. “Some countries ensure that their currency is very creative. I personally love the currency of Costa Rica. It is almost like a beautiful painting,” says Lambah. He currently has more than 10 albums in his collection but somehow hasn’t been able to contribute much to the same in recent years.
According to Lambah, every currency note in his album brings with it a moment of the journey he took and how he managed to collect it. In fact, the collection has given him a chance to spend a lot more time with his daughter. “For her projects in school, she takes my albums along to tell everyone the story behind each of the currencies collected,” he adds. He possesses around 50 quarters from each of the states in the US. “When they came out with the quarter, I was in the US for six-seven days. I collected them instantly,” he remembers. In fact, he also possesses some old Indian notes and coins. Lambah believes that his hobby has been nurtured by his love for travel. “My father was in the army and thus we would travel a lot all the time. I remember how we travelled to Delhi with aloo parathas and bistarbandhs,” he laughs.
Lambah tries to go on short family trips at least four to five times a year along with his wife and daughter. “Sometimes my daughter and I tag along with my wife on her projects as well,” says Lambah, who is married to eminent conservation architect Abha Narain Lambah. In his new role with Regus, Lambah hardly finds time to go through his albums or contribute more to his collection, as he hasn’t been travelling much. “I just realised that it has been quite a while since I added something to my collection. I’m going slow for now, but I am sure there is a penny waiting to be picked round the corner,” says Lambah with a grin.