Friday, 28 June 2013

Manu & Money

Half of Hardwar is filled up with temples, ashrams, dharam shalas & hotels and other half is also filled up with temples, ashrams, dharam shalas & hotels! Variety of names of dharam shalas are there based on castes, sub-castes or name of native place of the founder for example: Khatri Samaj Dharam Shala, Gauriya Brahmin Dharam Shala, Bharara Dharam Shala, Bahawal Puri Dharam Shala, Sindhi Panchayat Dharam Shala & many more.

As regards ashrams Hardwar has hundreds of them with a variety of names: Thanaram Ashram, Ajar Dham, Kamal Das Kutiya, Avdhoot Jagat Ram Udaseen Ashram, Nityanand Brahmchari Ashram & many  more.

Most of these remain occupied by pilgrims for a day or two. But some people stay there for long. Some of them poor singles or couples not able to make their ends meet. Some of them are aged  who are unable to adjust with their adult children or their spouses. Some sick of family feuds or property disputes back home. Some are genuine seekers of peace. Lot of foreigners can be found roaming with rudraksh garlands, long unkempt hair & or some with shaven heads looking for kicks, chillum, ganja, solace, yoga, meditation, moksha or some such.

Manu or Manuji as ashram people called him, was one such seeker staying in ashram. He said that he was a post graduate in English & had left teaching job to ‘find out the self’. For a while he had toured various temple towns of India, studied various religious & philosophical books, met various gurus & moved on not fully satisfied. He said that he hailed from a suburb of Mumbai & had joined this ashram as he was getting tired of vagabonding. No regular timings for food & sleep, no fixed place of stay & no income. He had weakened & felt as if the journey had to stop now. He said that he felt uneasy inside after nearly three years of nomadic life & wanted to get back to normal life. He felt that normal life includes spiritual life & that perhaps he was ignoring it.

The ashram had assorted inmate’s old aged couples, singles, a few foreign middle aged persons besides guards, cooks, office staff and personal attendants of guruji. Ashram had well equipped office, well maintained lawn & kitchen garden, nice clean rooms & dining hall. Manuji was entrusted with job of bank reconciliation etc & public relations work with foreigners. He had more than full days job in his hands. Besides early morning yoga, office work & arrangement of foreigners kept him occupied. Occasionally Manuji visited bank & informed that his efforts had boosted the image of the ashram overseas & compared to previous years arrival of foreigners had increased & of course funds flow was up.

Life in ashram was disciplined. Wake up call was at 4.30 am & lights were off at 9.30 pm. Simple, wholesome & sufficient veg food was available at fixed timings. Manuji slowly regained his weight, his face gleamed & he was more confident. In very short time he had become sort of CEO of the ashram.

Couple of day’s back he informed that a grand function was being organised on the occasion of birthday of guruji & for which large amount of cash was withdrawn. Two days after the cash drawl accountant from ashram accompanied by police inspector came enquiring about various accounts of ashram.

While they checked the statements, Inspector informed that so called Manuji had disappeared with Rs.23 lacs.


Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Vote comrade vote!

USSR was a superpower after the World War II & only other competitor was USA. It was a role model for newly liberated & developing countries including India. It was largest country spread over 2 crore sq kms across 12 time zones having longest boundary over 60,000 kms including coast line. Soviet Union had made significant achievements including first ever satellite & manned spacecraft. Russian literature had fascinating array of writers like Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Pasternak, Gorky, Pushkin & so on.

Enjoying the literature in original writing rather than politics, made me take up study of Russian language in evening classes. Under Cultural Exchange Program I got selected with 9 others for a trip to Moscow Friendship University for 45 days in July, 1979.

Church in Red Square Moscow

All this led to frequent & lengthy discussions with friends & colleagues on communism, socialism, imperialism, capitalism, unionism, naxalism  etc. etc. Colleagues like Com T A Virmani & Com S P Nanda who prompted & persuaded me to join CPI though I was not very keen. On a Saturday we went together to attend a meeting with office bearers of Delhi State unit in Urdu Bazar, Darya Ganj, Delhi. Com Farooqui, Com Manna & certain others were present. As soon as Com Virmani introduced me there was an objection that before bringing in a new person, matter should have been discussed. My suggestion that I wait outside was waived & Com Virmani cleared the issue. Thereafter I attended a few meetings there & on two occasions in Ajoy Bhawan as well.

During ‘79 the ruling alliance of Janta Party broke up as some constituents like Bhartiya Jan Sangh withdrew support & Morarji Desai lost trust vote & resigned. Charan Singh became PM but he also could not muster the number as Congress backed out. He declared elections which were held in Jan, 80.

Com Prem Sagar Gupta had filed papers from Delhi Sadar & was pitted against Jagdish Tytler & 20 others if I am not wrong. Volunteers for canvassing were required & I reported to a makeshift office in a workshop in Karam Pura. They had only one banner, no posters, no fancy handbills & no sumptuous lunch. Not found suitable for industrial area, three of us were assigned Rajouri Garden. This area was dominated by Punjabis & was much more posh compared to Karam Pura.

Pressed the call bell. There came out a gentleman who graciously listened, accepted the handbill, read it & politely refused to vote to any communist candidate & returned the handbill!

Another bell & out came an old lady. She immediately started complaining about overflowing drains about which authorities did not care. Her middle aged son also came out & listened to us. He told his mother that these poor people had never won any election so how could they get the drains repaired?

Name plate on the gate indicated that house owner was SBI employee. He came out & answered that to be in union of comrades is one thing & to vote in election for a comrade is another. No vote sir!

Next one gave us a sermon that communist philosophy is not of Indian origin & therefore does not deserve to be voted for!

One of the responses was ferocious indeed. The gentlemen asked us to move away immediately or else he would unchain his bulldog!

One response was that commies are out to destroy all religions of the world which is not good at least for Indian society. Therefore no vote!

One gentleman was surprised on seeing communists asking for votes. He said that commies wanted guns & not votes!

Barring a few houses general response was not very favourable & result could be anticpated in advance. Com Gupta could gather about 10,000 votes & lost of course.

Soon thereafter got promoted & with promotions came frequent transfers & I lost touch with party comrades. As they say bye in Russian-Dusvidania!

Monday, 24 June 2013

Solution by Mantras

Solution by Mantras!

It was Jan, 11 and the annual closing 31.03.11 was not far off. It was Jan, 11 and the retirement date 30.06.11 was also not far off !

The plan was to concentrate on targets, take leave thereafter, avail last LTC & say good bye to the bank. Fair enough you will say. Fair enough said better-half who at that time was in Delhi as I was living alone.

With considerable zeal entire town was scoured for deposits & the effort was getting rewarded. The begging-bowl-of-deposit was filling up!

On the night of 1st Mar there was slight drizzle & in the morning the grass in park was wet. While performing yogasan I slipped & hurt my back. Anyway ignoring the pain went to office only to be surprised to find a letter calling explanation to lapses pointed out in inspection report. Prepared the reply & submitted along with various photocopies next day. Meantime the backache intensified.

Prompt came the fax that reply is unsatisfactory & that charge sheet is enclosed. After consulting juniors, seniors, experts & well wishers reply was submitted. Their advices varied from left, to right & to center but everyone agreed that this thing should be cleared off before 30.06.11. It was learnt that enquiry was being constituted. Annual closing & LTC evaporated from the mind. 

On my visit to Delhi the story was narrated to better half who incidentally was also a fellow banker. She decided to submit her resignation without second thought. Kids also got sad & anxious. Backache continued & prolonged sittings & sleepless nights compounded the problem.

Seeing my predicament my landlord tried to help. While I was sitting in office at 8.30 pm with two colleagues preparing to face ensuing enquiry landlord brought one punditji with him. He said that punditji would like to talk in private. Me & punditji went in secluded computer room. There punditji informed that he had learnt of unfortunate happenings & submitted that he had come to help without wanting to earn anything as he was employed in a local govt organisation. He enquired about & noted date of birth, place of birth, family details & drew sketch of planetary position on his pocket notebook.
As instructed by him silence of two minutes was observed with eyes closed. Punditji proceeded to inform that the period up to coming birthday is going to be tough due to such & such planetary position but that everything could be settled gainfully subject to observance of certain rituals.

He stated that present state of affairs was due to ‘young’ untimely death of a close relation of father or of mother. The present difficulties are brought about by some spirits which were not given proper & appropriate last rites. To mitigate the present worrisome status & to make the spirits move away peacefully certain steps were essential to which he would guide.  
I told him no such thing had happened on father’s side. As regards relations on mother’s side I told that she, along with her parents & four siblings was trying to migrate to India during partition. Except my mother & her younger sister whereabouts of five others are not known till date.

Punditji listed out: (a) six live small golden fish have to be purchased- he could arrange that against payment of course, (b) these fish have to be released in Shukra Taal before day break or after sunset while he would chant mantras, (c) after 9 pm an hour long pooja shall be performed in a Shamshan Ghat(crematorium). For pooja requisite items would be arranged by him & for which advance payment was needed.

I interrupted & told him that I was a non-believer & did not subscribe to such views but as far as releasing fish in Shukra Taal was concerned it was okay. Going to Shamshan Ghat in the night was not acceptable & I excused myself. Punditji said that release of live fish was only a part measure but I refused any further discussion on the subject & we parted. Landlord was informed of it.

May all the departed souls rest in peace.

Friends & well wishers played vital role in settling the issues by 29.06.2011 and the bank service ended with a farewell party on 30.06.11. 

Thursday, 20 June 2013

As per Rules!

As per Rules!

It was a large office complex in Conn Place. On 4th floor of the building, we had two doors facing the lifts. The left door led to Delhi Zonal Office & the right one to New Delhi Zonal office. It need not be construed here that those working on the left side office are leftists & those working in office on right side are rightists!

The left office or the Delhi Zonal Office is headed by a Zonal Manager or ZM. He is not exactly ‘tall, dark & handsome’ but short, beer-bellied & handsome. His hairs have dissolved in thin air & as of now a few strands are visible. Hence the left office people have an affectionate name for him ‘The Baldy’.
New Delhi Zonal office is headed by Mr Mehra. Compared to The Baldy he is younger & more informal. He has recently taken charge of the office & so far relations with office people have been cordial. It seemed that he was more of a motivational man & less stickler of rules in contrast to The Baldy.

We three commute together in Haryana Roadways bus from Gurgaon to Conn Place distance being nearly 25 kms. Two of us are working in right  office & our friend Garg works in left office. On 24th Jan we were in roadways bus going to office. Now you see Delhi is capital of India & Conn Place is capital of Delhi so to say. Capital holds a Republic Day Parade on 26th Jan but full dress rehearsal is held on 24th Jan which passes thru inter alia Con't Place also. Traffic polices publishes routes & diversions for the rehearsal. You take this route, don’t go this way etc.

The bus took this route & that route, turned this way & that way & finally dumped us on Sansad Marg one km away from the office at 9.55. Clutching our brief cases we made a dash to the office. Ignored the Q for lift & instead rushed via staircase & reached inside at 10.10 huffing & puffing totally out of breath. Manager hrd directed two of us to ZM. Mr Mehra listened to our story & said that such incident must not get repeated. This rehearsal was known & we should have planned accordingly. We apologised, assured him of non-recurrence & thanked him. He told Manager - hrd to allow us to mark attendance & resume duties.

In the left office, simultaneously, our friend Garg did the explaining to The Baldy. Garg was told ‘No. As per rules you are to report for duty before 10. You are late by 10 minutes whatever the reason.’  Manager - hrd of Delhi Zonal Office did not allow him to mark attendance & he was treated on leave for that day. Dejected Garg went off cursing The Baldy, Manager - hrd, the bank & himself. He roamed about Conn Place for a while & had his lunch in Central Park. He boarded 1’o clock bus back home.

This incident happened long time back & I have narrated & discussed the story with lot many colleagues as to which executive was right – Mr Mehra the one who allowed to join or The Baldy the one who did not allow the staff to join the office 10 min late. But the debate remains inconclusive.

What do you say?

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Second Marriage!

Only bachelor in our branch was Nafe Singh. Even he has now requested for a 10 day leave as he was also getting married. As marriage was to take place on Sunday noon so all of branch staff hopped in cars & proceeded to groom’s place in a village off Meerut - Roorkee road.

The village was as good as any other in UP. Small zig zag lanes lined with red bricks with overflowing waste water here & there. In between pucca houses there were kuchha houses as well. Some houses just over the edge of lane with their balconies hanging over your head. A km of such lanes will have approx 20 zigs & approx 20 zags! Why these lanes can’t be in straight line is beyond me.

If you blow horn to request the villager walking ahead of you in middle of the road to give side he will slowly turn his head around, have a look on your face & then get to a side & let you pass. And after you have passed him, he will continue to glare at your back for a while. Perhaps he would like to understand your presence in the village first. Or perhaps he might have been an auditor in his earlier avtaar!

Two dogs sprinted behind the cars barking all the way for approx 50 mtrs. Finding nothing unusual dropped back. Even otherwise we bankers are used to them because of late sittings in the branches. Buffaloes tethered to pegs were lazily munching grass & were not interested in banking matters & a standing cow looked at us with half-closed eyes.
Chasing the source of sound of music we reached Nafe Singh’s place decorated with buntings. Large tent was pitched in a vacant plot & local DJ with huge black boxes containing loudspeakers was blowing away filmy music to the delight of the small crowd of dancers. Lunch was getting ready in one corner. Lots of guests, kids & ladies in colourful dresses were roaming about. Ladies had their heads covered & avoided elderly gentlemen.

Nafe Singh all dressed up as a groom greeted us a bit shyly & took us to his father sitting in a group of friends leisurely spread over on cots, takhats & chairs. Practically all of them dressed up in white dhoti-kurta & Gandhi toupees. They were enjoying Gurguri (Hukka), cold drinks, mattha & liquor. His father greeted us & called for drinks. Besides desi  santara, malta branded beer & rum was also was available. He ordered for ‘english bottle’ specially kept for us babu log from bank!

I congratulated him on the marriage of his son Nafe Singh & asked for further programme as to where the Barat was supposed to go. He gave a cryptic reply ‘Nowhere! Barat will not go anywhere’. A bit puzzled I enquired again. He put a counter question ‘Nafe Singh has not informed you I suppose?’ We waited for his explanation.

‘See manager saab with your blessings & with blessings of God I have three sons & three daughters. All except Nafe are married. Unfortunately as per God’s will, elder brother of Nafe died in road accident one year & one month before this day. He was two years senior to Nafe & has left wife & six month old son behind with us.

‘See saab with your blessings & with blessings of God, I had four brothers & three sisters. There was family fight over land & then division took place & I was left with two acres. And now if I divide it further in three parts what will be left? A few yards each? How will they survive tell me manager saab?

‘Understand manager saab that this earth is like mother to us as she provides food, nourishment, shelter & life. We are born of mother earth & we go back into it. So I decided no more divisions of my portion of mother earth.

‘Therefore saab I talked to father in law of my deceased son, to wife of my deceased son (my daughter in law) who has six month old son & to Nafe who is my little child & arranged their marriage.

‘So manager saab I am grateful to God that Barat is starting from this house & reaching this very house as groom & bride are both in this house.

‘With your blessings manager saab & with blessings of God the assets of this house shall remain in this house!’

Towards a New Journey 

Thursday, 13 June 2013

The Feast

It was time to leave the branch & I had packed up. In came an old man along with a teenager boy. He introduced himself as Samey Singh & said that a part of his land holding has been sold & that he shall be receiving payment of Rs.27 lacs the next day for which he needed help.

Deposits are always welcome 24*7*365 by any banker worth his salt. And so I spent another half an hour with the old man with pleasure. Cash van was organised, Sh Raj Singh cashier & Sh Arora officer were informed about programme. The team was in place.

Next day things went on smoothly. Payment in drafts & cash was collected & brought to the bank. Savings & fixed deposit accounts were opened in the names of daughters, grandchildren & (sighed Samey Singh) sons in law etc as per wishes of Sh Samey Singh.

I then learnt about his family. He had four daughters & ‘regrettably’ no son. All four daughters were married & two of them had two daughters each. Third daughter had two daughters & a son. This son had a handicap of a twisted ankle since birth. Fourth daughter was recently married & had no child as yet.
Samey Singh narrated that he was looking after grandson as his own son & was spending for his schooling, clothing etc. He said that God had been kind to him & blessed with sufficient land & cattle to feed his family & to spare. But he must have committed some sin as Almighty did not favour him with a son. The punishment of Almighty unfortunately continued with his daughters also as two of them again had no son but daughters only. That the daughters could not beget sons was not fair on His part as they were innocents. God should have restricted the punishment to Samey Singh alone he lamented.

Having received Pass Books & FDRs he profusely thanked all & promised to bring in more deposits in case he decided to sell more land. As it is he was under pressure from sons in law for selling remaining land.

After a fortnight Samey Singh came again & I thought more deposit was on its way. But no, he had come with an invitation to attend his function ‘Kaaj’ at his residence on Sunday. I immediately agreed keeping in mind future sale proceeds of land!

On Sunday I took along Sh Arora officer & Sh Raj Singh cashier. On the way cashier informed that ‘Kaaj or Dharam ka Kaaj’ is a feast organised after the death of a senior person. He also suggested that we all give cash individually in envelopes as Shagun or our contribution. This was news to us as we did not know of any death which occurred in the house of Samey Singh. I was not sure if we should attend this function or not. But then we decided to proceed as we were almost near the village.

To our surprise his house was well decorated with flowers & buntings. There was no sign of any death.  Loudspeaker was blaring filmy dance numbers & kids were having gala time. Arrangement for sumptuous lunch was there. Menu included Makki / bajre ki roti, kachori, rice, aloo ki subzi, palak ka sag, gobhi aloo,  chhach, milk & hot jalebis! Drinks were also served discreetly to selected few.

We were photographed & video recorded with Samey Singh. Cashier hinted at handing over Shagun envelopes. But Samey Singh did not accept & asked us to wait. He then called his grandson & asked him to accept our envelopes.
Then he informed in philosophical tone that who knows when he shall die. Also there is no son to bid him last farewell by putting Agni to his mouth on the funeral pyre. This job now shall be performed by his grandson. And who knows the Kaaj or the feast after death may or may not be organised by these sons in law (who are becoming greedier by the day).

That is why this Kaaj was organised by him on lavish scale to commemorate his own death!


Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Maruti Car

Once Sh Sanjay Gandhi visited Parliament Street branch of PNB. After pleasantries, there was discussion on proposal to manufacture small cars. License had been issued to him in ’71 & central govt had awarded the contract to manufacture ‘peoples’ car’. He had reportedly undergone apprenticeship in Rolls-Royce, England.

They came out after discussion & proceeded towards a car parked outside the branch. Car was very small, somewhat crude & unfinished. They had a ride in prototype of Maruti around Patel Chowk.

Subsequently, the loan of Rs.1cr each was sanctioned by PNB & Central Bank. It was to be seen whether new car could compete against Ambassador & Fiat of that time.

Project could not take off fully for one reason or the other. In June ’80 he died in an air crash. In ’81 Suzuki stepped in for collaboration & rest is history.