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.

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