Category Archives: banker’s banter

Banker’s Banter-III

*Curious case of the IT Commissioner(Retd MIND ITTT) and a pair of shoes

“Koche, give me an interest certificate for my HTL”, a man in his 60s appeared out of nowhere and commanded while I was peering into the computer screen and waited for a certain page to load.

I looked up amused, pretended to be polite, painted the smile on my face and took his application.  As the number 6XXXXXXXXX.. stared at me on the face, I let out a gasp, did a momentary analysis of the specimen and blurted out,” Sir, are you sure this is the account number?”

Old man lost his patience now. “What are you saying? That I don’t know the account number of my own housing loan. Kids these days, know nothing. I’m  Mr.XYZ, retired Income Tax Commissioner, Mind IT!. Blah blah….

The blood boiled while I was shivering in the blast freeze air conditioning enabled branch. ” Sir, but this cannot be ours” , I took step two of trying to convince an arrogant retired sarkaari naukar.

“I have the passbook with me”, Commissioner roared and pulled out a book from his bundle of pass books.

Triumph! The moment I had been waiting for. I grabbed the Passbook like a prized trophy and pointed to the Bright Blue letters. ‘STATE BANK OF TRAVANCORE’ it says.. I said…

Commissioner uncle was transported back to reality. He apologized and gave the correct one. I thought my penance for the day was done, when he barged in again furious. The footwear he’d left outside was stolen. I fail to understand the system of leaving the footwear outside the bank. A peculiar practice I’ve observed only in this part.

A few more outbursts on the footwear that cost 1500 bucks. By now I knew the brand, make, color and where the leather was imported from. Commissioner left totally disgruntled and I had to attend a call.

The next thing I see on my table is a bill for a pair of shoes and an account number  with a note ‘please refund’… FML

* Why I decided walking is healthy

People who’ve lived with me know how lazy I am in matters like fitness, health etc. One fine evening here, changed my life forever. I don’t hire an auto until its a do or die or get molested/killed by a drunkard in Changanacherry situation. The story goes like this…

It was getting dark, snakes of Changanacherry were out ( Mallu joke), the aroma of chicken fry from thattukadas were wafting in the air and I had to get back so that I won’t miss an opportunity to crib about the hostel grub. I hired an auto and  the driver left me at the hostel gate.

I was pulling out the notes from my purse when the driver says, ” You need braces?”

“I need what?”, I was taken aback.

” You need braces. I  gather you’re of the marriageable age and you need to look after your appearance. I’m a small broker. I can find guys.. I ‘ve a list of bankers with me..blah blah blah…”

“No, thank you”, I  tried to wriggle out of another ‘situation’ 😛

* Appearances can be deceptive

One of the first lessons imparted to us was on the ‘importance of eye contact’ and paying attention to a customer’s needs.

A man in his late 40s, clad in a ‘kasavu mundu’ and branded shirt stood outside my cubicle and seemed to be a bit lost. He looked like the typical NRI on vacation, who is confused at the state of affairs in a desi bank. I have a whole series to write about such characters.  But, I digress here.

I looked at him and asked, ” Yes sir?”

” Oru chaaya kudikkan paisa thaa koche” ( Give me money to drink tea, Rather a pretty lame excuse to polish off another bottle). So much for customer service 😐

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Banker’s Banter-II

Monday

Perched on the window seat, shutting out the noises of the world by plugging in my headphones, I was blending as an insignificant co-passenger to the Monday Morning blues of many. Little did I know, in a few minutes to come, I would be subject to my quota of 2 minutes of attention from everyone around me.

3 generations of women and an 8 year old boy who belonged to the fourth generation, sat next to me. When the boy was done with  his breakfast of the IRCTC packaged Masala Dosa, the grandmother made him wash is mouth and spit into the container. Alarm bells rang in my head, louder than the drumbeats of Greenday. ‘This lady is going to throw the packet with water, outside the window and the wind god will definitely redirect it in my direction”. I was strategizing on whether to politely ask her to wait until I moved or just get up. These are moments when you curse yourself for thinking in ‘pros and cons’. As I had anticipated, the water splashed across my arm. The grandmother apologized, pulled my arm across and started wiping my arm rigorously/vigorously. ( I don’t know which of the two would describe the effort best).  Heads turned, smiles sprang up, the appropriate looks of ‘ Oh how sad’ were given and then again, I was just an insignificant co-passenger.

Tuesday

One of the first Fulbright Scholars, a doctorate in Neuro Anatomy, still going strong with an undying spirit and complaining about not having learnt how to use a computer, this WOMAN had me in awe for the rest of the day, right from the moment I filled in her date of birth for her. 1926? What image do you have about life those days? And how many women from a small place like Chry got to do a doctorate in Neuro Anatomy in the 1950s?

No fairy tale is complete without a villain. Here, in the form of a grandson who forged her signature on the cheque.

Wednesday

In 2007, I was against Mallus who were a nuisance when they went out of the state.

In 2009, I was against Mallus who induced nuisance by claiming everyone who belonged to the above mentioned group were a nuisance.

In 2011, I am convinced, the Marunadan returnee Mallus are the greatest nuisance among them all. Honestly, dear retired uncles and aunties, I love to listen to your stories from across the states and countries, of your struggles and trials. Of your achievements and your well-placed children in Bangalore.

I was not prepared for this, “How dare you nitwit, a kid send a letter to me claiming to freeze my accounts if I don’t provide my id proof? I’ve been a customer in this Bank for past 30 years and no one ever troubled me like this. Myself and my wife, retired from Central government service in 1996 and we shifted to Chry. I don’t have any illegal money. My daughters are well-settled. My first one is a MD in paediatrics, married and settled in Canada. My younger one is also a doc ( wonder why the specifics were left out), settled in the US of A. Even though they are girls, they ask me if I need money. How can you just suspect me for no reason? You kids do not know anything! If my account is freezed, I will hang myself on this ceiling fan.” No wonder everyone called this Vikraman an ‘Akraman.’

Ref: RBI is strict about KYC ( Know Your Customer) rules to prevent money laundering. I had to inform account holders to  submit the relevant documents. Identity proof of each customer is compulsory, but some people take it as an insult or as a question mark on their ‘integrity’. The only way out is to feed the massive Marunaadan ego with a patient ear. So, now I’m really getting to know the customers.

I was the happiest person on earth by the end of the day. A few words of appreciation on this blog, from a stalwart…that just made my day.

Thursday

I got screamed at by another 60+ pensioner. I do not know why. I was sad. The feel good factor for the previous days was balanced. No electricity at night and I believed that I would be bitten to death by mosquitoes. This had to be my worst sleepless night ever!

Friday

Nothing  happened!

 

Saturday

The railway station. I’d rather not bore you with vivid descriptions 😛

So, I sat there next to a woman in her late 60s, reading a book. Her teenage grandchildren were around, playing around with their mobile phones.

On the next bench, sat a group of nuns. I was lost in my own world, re-theorizing on cranky 60+ es, when a nun approached the lady sitting next to me. The conversation went like this.

Nun: Are you able to understand what is written in this book?

Old Woman: As the preface says, I need to read it with utmost concentration. But, still I’m finding my way through this.

Nun: Actually, I asked coz I am the author.

FREEZE

I now had my focus on the title, ” Rogashanthiyude Nighooda Rahasyangal”.

The nun belonged to SND, rather the ones who run Sophias in B’luru.

The Old Woman had retired as an Health Inspector.

Interesting snippets followed. They both belonged to the same place in Alleppey, they had gone to attend someone’s funeral, they were based in Trivandrum presently. Two people who were just destined to meet this way. But, how often do you get to meet an author of a lesser known book in a place like a railway station!

I sat there amused, again immersed in thoughts about what would have been the content of the book. A lady smiled at me and as a natural reflux I turned back to see if, she was really smiling at me or someone behind me. She came walking towards me and said, ” I saw you at the Bank, new officer no? Where are you going to?”. And this is happening to me often these days. To be recognized by random people. At the supermarket, at the medical shop, at the mobile recharge shop…

So much for ‘knowing your customers’ 😛


Banker’s Banter-1

Now that I’ve drawn  my first salary and not a stipend, I can claim to be Banker with some dignity :). A lot has happened over the past 26 days in the least expected ways.

Few weeks before I got my posting,  in a boisterous tone laced with prejudice and contempt against the Kuttanad, Kottayam Mallus I said,” I hope its not somewhere around Kottayam”. Life taught me to be more humble when the posting order contained the name exactly what I didn’t want to see.

I packed my bags, I was ready to go and shit scared. I was getting back to the nomad phase again. The first hostel I saw, was plain awful. Disgustingly dirty room the only one vacant apparently. The ladies thought I was being snob when I refused to live there coz, I didn’t have much options. Apparently,  God’s own brides in that part of God’s own country do not take in working women.

And then, the last resort or the lesser evil of the two, a municipality hostel it had to be. The stench was so overwhelming that I retched and puked the butterflies that were already there in my stomach ( talk about killing language)  the moment I stepped into the building. The loos were worse than a public toilet and my first thoughts were ,”This whole claim about Mallus being super clean is so overrated”. ( You know how we proudly poke fun at our neighbours who don’t have a bath). I had reached a dead end. There was no other place to stay and  I was told to ‘swalpa adjust maadi’ in the local dialect.

I entered my first branch. My first proper workplace. Its not funny when you trip and bang your head on the panels at the entrance with your appointment letter flying off your hand and your duppatta, the shield with an over qualification of being the protector of your Chastity gets torn by the thorns on a plant, purely kept for aesthetic purposes. I have stopped seeing random incidents as signs these days, but I don’t know whether to take this as one.

I went in and by some magic of the universe or the generosity of the 14 people who exist there, I was made to feel at home instantly. Each day is filled with a new discovery, each person with a story of his/her own yet manage to paint the canvas that is ADB, so perfectly. I knew this was going to be memorable for a ‘starter’.