Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Clearing House Tallieeed!

Those days cheques deposited in banks were cleared through two clearing houses; Delhi Clearing House Chandni Chowk which was managed by SBI & New Delhi Clearing House Parliament Street managed by RBI. 40 odd banks were members of the House. Of these SBI used to have largest number of cheques for delivery & receipt & PNB was next. A few firangi banks like Citi, Amex, Tokyo etc were single branch banks & their number of cheques was very small but amount substantial. 

For every trip to House we were paid Rs 5 as conveyance charges. On the other hand firangi banks paid 30 to 40 to their reps though all banks are situated on Parliament Street within 2 kms. This led to heart burns! After persistent complaining, coercing through union & hard bargaining it was raised to a princely sum of Rs 7.

Similarly if the House did not get ‘Tallied’ till 1 o’clock then you were entitled to Rs. 10 as food charges. Firangi banks paid Rs 50 which caused indigestion!
The House had rules & protocol. New reps’ had to organise tea/samosa at the time of joining & those getting married or blessed with child to distribute sweets usually baloo-shahi from subsidised canteen. In turn farewell was on the house.

Another strict rule was that whosoever delayed the tallying of House gets penalised by footing the bill of tea/samosa for all. For avoiding such penalties you had to be sharp & accurate in sums orally. The House  Sheet had two columns of receipt & delivery with 40 rows of banks. Figures ran into crores of rupees & paise. Net difference of cheques receipt & delivery had to be tallied with RBI ledger. This was done mostly orally as few machines were available.  And when tallied there will be shouts of ‘Tallieeeed!’ & all reps would rush out. Everybody wanted to finish up this process by 11.30 & quit.

The House was a male bastion as entire crew was male. One fine morning male egos got shattered as a lady officer from Syndicate bank made an appearance in the House. There were shouts of approval & disapproval, ‘Intro please’, ‘Paaaarty’ ‘Kahan se aa gai’ ‘married nai lagti’ ‘Deccan Queen’ etc. & the work got stalled. Chairman of the house brought some order & work started 40 mins late. The lady officer was new to the bank, new to the clearing & new to even to New Delhi. She started the work a bit nervously but totalling of two columns of 40 each & all odd amounts was taking time in the noisy hall. Eventually with help from chairman himself accounts were settled just after 1o’clock & there was a loud declaration of ‘Tallieeeed’. She had to shell out for two parties – of introduction & of penalty.

But her intrusion had a positive effect in as much as the hall became quieter, use of loud curses & shouts got minimised
Ladies do have qualities!                   

Saturday, 27 April 2013

Funds Overflow!

On the outskirts of Delhi is situated our Jhatikara branch under Najaf Garh block. Need not tell you about Najaf Garh as it has been made world famous by the cricketer Virender Sahwag.

But it was not so famous during the days I took over the charge of the branch. It had a staff of six people Nafe Singh being one of them. He had retired from the army & joined the bank as Guard. He was a disciplined fauji fellow, neatly dressed & punctual in attendance. He could easily relate to rural folk & used to guide them in opening of accounts, filling of deposit / withdrawl / loan application forms etc & hence was popular brand ambassador of the branch. In absence of peon he would gladly put the gun in the locker & start doing peon’s job as if it was his own job.

I got to know him better subsequently when he took me to his newly constructed home on a house warming lunch. It was quite a show with generator & loudspeaker giving a blast to filmy music & rustic dance. Menu of the day had rum & hot mutton biryani right from the ‘deg’ in one smaller tent, veg & doodh-jalebi in bigger one. Ladies were accommodated in third tent pitched a little distance away.

He narrated that they were Mooley Jatts who got converted during mughal period. But to retain their identity they suffixed ‘Singh’ in their names – Sultan Singh, Bahadar Singh, Shamsher Singh, Daryao Singh & so on. They did have photos of Mecca in their homes but at the same time celebrated Holi, Rakhi & Diwali as well. He had three sons two of them working as sub staff in ministries & third ‘looking after land’.

He informed that their substantial chunk of land has been acquired by govt & they were to receive good amount as compensation. Eventually a little over one crore was deposited in our branch which had shaken the regional office at that time.

Nafe Singh then discarded the ‘potli’ & purchased proper stainless steel lunch box. His shoes shined more & he started keeping pen also in shirt pocket. Customers started calling him Pardhanji & his son who ‘looked after the land’ purchased a maruti 800 car & a tractor. About 2-3 times a week he would come in his ‘mrooti’ along with his son to branch. And his car was the only car in front of the branch. Even branch manager did not have one.  He requested:
-Saab aaj RM Saab se milwao, hum to Namaste karna chaate hain. Gaadi hajir hai Saab. Charan daalo Saab.

Over tea & snacks it was agreed that Nafe Singh shall try to bring more of such compensation being paid to others & that he will not be transferred from the branch till retirement.

Having extracted the promise of no transfer & having come to know the importance of deposits, he grew more confident with a touch of arrogance. Occasionally he will leave the branch early or come late as he had to contact ‘party’. Every time he brought deposits he will throw a party with all staff included in booze & biryani at the expense of depositors & brush aside all the objections.

Instead of uniform he now preferred to wear white pant, shirt & white shoes. Bit by bit he started bullying cashiers & officers also.  He declared himself as branch secretary of the union & started meddling in union affairs. His voice was getting louder & angrier by the day. His face had a permanent frown & he smelt of liquor whole day. Now his car started coming daily & with a bottle or two of rum along with lunch box on the back seat. Some or the other shady characters always followed him. Barely 10 months after receiving the compensation, was he a transformed man!

It was a cloudy afternoon when he brought five of a family & deposited approx 25 lacs in different accounts. Evening party was organised as usual in Lucky dhaba. Party broke up early as drizzle had started.

Nafe Singh with his son was off to their home in 800. On the way they crashed nto a tractor trolley & went to their respective heavenly abodes instantly.

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Banking in Cantt Branches

Cantonments or simply Cantts have a different flavour of life. Neat clean streets display road signs & have rather less traffic. A bit more green & quiet than the city. Lots of barracks can be found all old fashioned but neat & tidy. Population of faujis has a mix of all hues & colours of India like - Bengalis, Nagas, Sikhs, Kashmiris, Tamils & so on. Road crossings & entry gates to the buildings are decorated with tanks or field guns & manned by military personnel in crisp uniforms.

They have a way of naming the streets. In Delhi Cantt there is a road named Tigris Road & this Tigris is a river in Turkey & Iraq. Similarly Ichhamati Lines is named after a river on Indo Bangla border.

Once travelling to Bomdi La, Arunachal in very cold January with snow lying on roads, grass, trees & bushes we desperately wanted a break with hot tea as even inside the car it was getting cold. We soon found a a dhaba on roadside run by faujis named Fikarnot Canteen! Equally surprising was wash room. Instead of usual Ladies & Gents, it declared Fillies & Stallions!

Flip side is their love for speed breakers which you will find in large numbers, shapes & sizes & lack of civilian bazaars. This, from the point of view of banker means lack of business. Most of the banking is confined to savings & lockers.

Almost all Cantt stations have a Mall / MG Road, a Sadar Bazar, a RA(Royal Artillary) Bazar or Top Khana & may be a Lal Kurti. Cantts’ are spread all over India - right from Haldwani to Jabalpur to Bangalore to Delhi. And so are the branches of banks. So no surprises if you find yourself posted in Missamari, district Tezpur, Assam.

At about 10.20 entered a DR(Despatch Rider) with a cheque of his unit commander for payment. He took the token & waited with his helmet on in full fauji outfit. There was rush on the counter & small place was crowded with pensioners. The clerk posted the cheque in ledger & kept it aside for officer to pass it for payment. Officer too was busy surrounded by pensioners & was not finding time to come to the counter to pass the cheque. No peon was in sight to take the ledger to officer’s table. DR waited for 10 mins & then started tapping the counter with token. Clerk sensing delay & to expedite the matter, handed over the ledger & asked the DR:

-Ye ledger Saab ke pass le jao.

- Achha Saab, DR said. He promptly took the ledger, came out of the branch, kick started his Bullet & off he went to his Saab with ledger 15 kms away!

You can imagine the commotion which ensued after half an hour or so when the ledger was not found in branch premises! 

Another time I made a discreet request for two bottles to a Unit Commander. Next day Commander said on phone:

-Two atom bombs are on your way!

After an hour or so DR came in cabin, loudly announced ‘Jaihind Saab’ & promptly placed the bottles on my table in full view of staff & customers! 

Spending evening fauji style is a welcome break for a banker. You keep getting invitations for celebrations of national days, regimental days etc which really lift your spirits! Following joke was narrated in an evening party in officers’ mess:

Santa & Banta were carpenters & went to London looking for opportunities. While roaming on streets they were accosted by a gori Mem. Both did not make out anything as to what she was saying. She took out a pencil & paper from her bag & drew a sketch of cup-plate Santa exclaimed:

-Oye gori Mem te coffee mangdi hai. Chal restaurant le chaliye.

After coffee the gori Mem drew a sketch of a bottle & a peg. Santa exclaimed:

-Oye Mem te daaru mangdi hai. Chal daaru mangaa assi vi piyange gori Mem naal.
After a few pegs gori Mem drew a sketch of double bed. Santa jumped up & exclaimed:

-Oye balle oye! Mem nu pata lag gaya ki assi carpenter haan.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Ganj to Ganj

I had recently taken over charge of Kesar Ganj branch on transfer
from Miller Ganj branch. Prior to that I was at B T Ganj branch.
May be next branch shall be Naya Ganj or Jawahar Ganj or
Kernail Ganj or
 Hoola Ganj who knows!

As luck would have it , our new Zonal Manager also joined just
a few days back. Short of height, pot bellied, jovial & clever. He
has a few tentacles of hair left on his bald plateau & therefore he
was promptly christened with the title The Baldy by the juniors.
On his first visit to the branch, he had cold drink & a round of the
branch. He found dust on computers, in cashiers cabin, one officer
missing without any message & another joining late, board of
branch in bad shape, stationery lying here & there. Growth figures
were low. 

Over a coffee, salted cashew nuts & delicate pastries he
rendered a long speech to the officers to dedicate themselves for
improving the branch. Officers later termed the speech as 'usual
bak-bak of Saab log'. The visit ended with him being installed on
back seat of official Ambassador car with lots of assurances for
improvement in the branch.

Subsequently, following letters were exchanged with The Baldy:

Dear Shri BM
This refers my recent visit to your branch. Lot of all round
improvements are urgently required in your office. This is
a prestigious branch in bazar area with lots of potential for
business. You are young & energetic officer & I am sure of your
success. My office is here to guide & support you.

Respected Shri ZM Sahib
Extremely thankful for your kind letter of support. I shall try my
best to improve the service to complaint free level.
Thanks & regards.
(Abe yaar jara saans to lene do abhi to family Delhi me hai aur
rotian bel raha hun yaha!)

Dear Shri BM
Figures for month end have been placed before me & I find that
growth has not picked up. Your personal attention is needed in
this branch. Awaiting action from your side.
(Bhaga rahta hai Delhi har Saturday ko. Ye Delhi walo ki naak
Delhi ki taraf hi rahti hai!).

Respected Shri ZM Sahib
Due to consistent efforts we have been able to increase our locker
occupancy & in the bargain got good amount of deposits as well.
Branch has been got cleaned & spruced up. One loan proposal
of 10 cr of a lady entrepreneur is under preparation & shall be
submitted shortly to your office.
Thanks & regards.
( Ab bolo Baldyji kya bolte ho!)

Dear Shri BM
Please send the proposal & the promoter to me on Sat afternoon.
Please also pay attention to recovery side which is lagging
(Ab ja beta tu Delhi ja Sat afternoon ko!).

Respected Shri ZM Sahib
Rigorous efforts are being made for recovery. Hopefully results
will come shortly.
Thanks & regards.
(Jab loan proposal de diya, deposit bada diya, locker lagwa diye,
branch chamkaa di to recovery yaad aa gai! Mai chala Delhi kar
lo meeting Baldyji!)

Dear Shri BM
3 days have passed since sanctioning of loan to the Lady & I
understand it has not been disbursed so far. This lethargy is not at
all conducive to growth in business. Please disburse immediately
& confirm by SMS.
(kaam kar ke koi raaji nahi. Isko kahin aur bhejunga!)

Respected Shri ZM Sahib
The Lady has yet to create mortgage & therefore disbursement is
held up. We have requested the Lady for expediting the matter.
Thanks & regards
( kya hua ji Baldyji party sust, aap chust!)

Dear Shri BM
Even after 10 days loan has not been disbursed to the Lady. This
apathy towards customers is not appreciable.
(Bachhoooo! Pack up your luggage!)

Respected Shri ZM Sahib
I visited the lady yesterday but she did not allow a meeting as she
was on Karwa Chowth fast. I will again visit her today evening
for creation of EM.
Thanks & regards
(kya chahve yo Baldy?)

Dear Shri BM
On receipt of this letter please hand over the charge of the branch
to Shri Gupta. You may immediately proceed to Nepal Ganj
branch for further duties.

Unit Inspection

-Sir auditor has taken a serious view on this file.
-Wot? -Sir he has jotted down a long list of irregularities. Serious ones. 
-Wot? -He says that loan has been sanctioned at express speed without completion of formalities, Sir.
-Wot? Which file ?
-Sir JT.
-Sir Jhumri Taliyya Impex P Ltd.
-Book air tickets. Quick. Call auditor here & arrange high tea. Call party in the evening at my place.

Now these orders must be complied with quickly else Saab will not like it. As you know our Zonal Manager is very strict in these matters relating to audit.

You might have seen him perhaps - short & beer bellied with a few strands of hair standing upright on a bald head. Hence the unofficial nick name by the juniors - The Baldy.

Now in confidance I tell you this loan file of JT was sanctioned really at express speed by The Baldy. Some discrepencies might have crept in but this auditor is too much. He is trying to make out a hill from a mole or whatever. Auditor should stick to observations on facts & figures you see & should not base his report on assumption or personal whims & fancies. This fellow seems to be dead set against The Baldy & trying hard to settle some old entries between them. His verbal comments against The Baldy show clearly that he is holding some grouse.

Tickets were booked for Jhumri Taliyya & it is supposed to be one hour flight. Some people say it is near Pondicherry, some others say its near Nainital as perhaps tal & talliya match, but I have never been there & really can't tell.

Meantime in the cabin of The Baldy, encounter with auditor passed off peacefully , both sides holding their respective guns under the table. No body pulled the trigger. Tea, salted cashewnuts, pastries, samosa etc cleared the air somewhat, invitation was extended for the visit to Jhumri Talliya which was accepted.

-So far so good - muttered The Baldy.
-Wait bald man wait - muttered the auditor.

In the evening director of JT Impex called on The Baldy along with Johny Walker & the forthcoming visit was thoroughly discussed & solutions planned.
It was subsequently learnt that The Baldy was, once upon a time an auditor & the auditor was the branch manager. The mismatch entries were all squared up after the visit to Jhumri Talliya between the auditor & The Baldy.

Audit report was short & sweet to the liking of The Baldy & the auditor was happy despite heavier luggage at the time of departure.

For quite sometime we juniors remained confused at the change of attitudes of bosses. Your guess is as good as mine as to what might have happened during the visit to Jhumri Talliyya.

You don't believe in details do you?
Have some more. It is chilled.

You & Tu

I admire the usage of English word 'You' as form of address for anyone be it senior or junior or your boss or your sub-ordinate.

For example while meeting a GM or CM or PM, you can use the word 'you' freely:
- I request you to please consider this urgently.
And while talking to your kids also you can say:
-‘You’ naughty child!

In Hindi 'you' has three equivalents: Aap, Tum & Tu. Their usage depends on whom you are talking to, a junior or a senior.

For example while meeting GM or CM or PM you got to use Aap & not Tum or Tu. And while talking to a kid or a junior you prefer to use Tu though you may use Aap or Tum if you like.

While I was chatting on this point with my lady colleague Ms Khanna, a customer entered the hall in a hurry. It was 10.05 & he seemed a little restless. He stood at the counter no. 1 manned by Ms Khanna & tapped his cheque on the counter. Ms Khanna without looking up at the cheque or customer said:
-No. 5.

Now as is our practice we do not prefer using such English words as Please, Good Morning, Thanks, Sorry etc. Neither do we prefer to look at the face of the customer, smile & say 'Please go to counter no. 5 sir'.

Counter no. 5 at that point of time was unmanned & the customer came back to say to Ms Khanna:

-There is no one on that seat madam & I am getting late.
-Go to manager, was the curt reply of Ms Khanna without looking at the customer.
He rushed to the manager.
-Please go to counter no. 5. I am sending Mr Rohtagi there within 2-3 minutes.

The customer came back to 5 & started tapping the cheque on the counter while looking at the watch now & then. It was 10.15.
Rohtagi came, unlocked the drawer, arranged his cash, arranged his red & blue pens, rubber stamp, pin box etc on the counter. It was 10.20.

-I am waiting here since 10 for the payment.
-I have been deputed by manager just now.
-You could have come earlier. Why can't you start at 10?
-Arrre, manager has deputed me just now.
-I want payment. It is 10.30 now.
-Arrrre manager has deputed me just now. I am not refusing or delaying. Tu payment le.
-You call me 'tu'? Don't you have manners?

Verbal duel started as Rohtagi sprang from chair & it looked as if fisticuffs would start any moment. More curious people gathered there. Some smiling, some angry, some trying to reconcile. Customers supported customer & staff supported Rohtagi. Manager tried to pacify in vain & took the customer to his cabin. Glasses of water & tea were called for.

From Tu started tu-tu mai-mai & it was escalating. Someone called Com. Loudspeaker Dixit from the other hall. Now Com. Loudspeaker Dixit has a loud booming voice & he has a knack of getting into such gatherings & sorting out the issues. He looked at the customer & said with a smile:

-Bhiyaaji you are a good kushtomer of our branch & kushtomer is our God. In my bhillage Jhumri Talliya we call our Bhagwan as tu - 'tu bada dayalu hai Bhagwan, tu daya karna Bhagwan' - ab tum bhi daya karo kushtomerji. And almost touched the feet of customer.

The tension eased as there appeared smiles & the crowd starting to disperse, some happy that issue got resolved, some not happy as fireworks did not take place.
Customer received cash, a glass of water & a cup of tea.
By that time it was 11.20.