Monday, 29 July 2013

Branch Manager Searching Pyjamas!

Job profile of a branch manager involves several features which are not listed in the rule book. In between customers, juniors & controlling bosses there are moments of pleasure & pain for the branch manager. Some of the odd jobs I did as BM may not qualify for inclusion in the duty sheet. Check this one.

Annual closing was over & it was time to wait for the auditors. Now the question is who is this auditor for which we have to wait every year? Practically all branch managers have to undergo this exercise of waiting & getting the branch audited sooner or later in their careers. This is an occupational hazard.

Now who is this Auditor for which the branch manager has to wait for?This auditor can be defined as a person who audits! Or a person who performs audit is an auditor! These round-about definitions get us nowhere & do not give any meaningful idea about the auditor. From Wikipedia it comes out that the word ‘auditing’ has been derived from Latin word ‘audire’ which means ‘to hear’. Auditors accordingly prefer to hear their own voices! Another definition available is ‘an unbiased examination & valuation of the financial statements of an organisation’. Being unbiased is another quirky term requiring further explanations. 

May I define in a simpler manner - the fellow learns from you how things are done & then questions why things have been done! He is mostly short of pen, pencil, paper, snacks, time, calculator & tries to be friendlier to your boss rather than you!
No not this, Pyjamas required!
This was evident from auditor A as his phone calls went first to boss-The Baldy & then to me. Minutes later this call was supplemented by boss-The Baldy.

‘Auditor A is coming on Wednesday by morning flight. Please see that he is comfortable’.

'Sure sir' I assured.

Well Auditor A was six feet tall with a bulging tummy & bulky figure. His trousers were held with the help of suspenders. He walked & talked in slow motion. Anyways mission accomplished when KingKong was received, transported, and delivered to reception counter of the hotel at 9.30 am.
Hanging by suspenders
At 9.45 a call came from auditor A ‘Can you help? It seems my pyjama kurta has not been packed! Please can you organise’?

‘Sure sure’ I assured. Ooo lalala!

 A minute later boss-The Baldy followed it up with ‘Please make him comfortable’.

‘Sure sure’ I assured. Ooo lalala!

Search for KingKong size dress started as soon as shops opened at 11 am. Nothing suitable was found till 1 pm. A kurta-pyjama-search-party was then constituted with a local officer deputed by boss-The Baldy, a local clerk from our branch & myself. By evening the search party successfully found a Kurta.

Pyjama was got stiched over night & the occasion  was celebrated the next day.

Sunday, 28 July 2013

Listen to Me Branch Manager!

Job profile of a branch manager involves several features which are not listed in the rule book. In between customers, clerical staff, officers & controlling bosses there are moments of pleasure & pain for the branch manager. BM has to be a good listener. Check this out. 

I was attending a Branch Managers’ meeting when an urgent phone call came from the branch at about 3.30 pm. Two of the officers of the branch Sharma & Varma had a verbal duel, and then fisticuffs. Both were hurt. Glasses of the Sharma were broken, watch of Varma. This was informed by a Chief Manager who said that he had arrived at the branch for Surprise Inspection & was really surprised at the scene.  Atmosphere in the branch was tense he said & asked me to come back immediately.

Into the left ear of the Boss I whispered & apprised him of incident & rushed back to the branch. At branch I had discussions with Surprised Chief Manager, Sharma the old man, Varma the young officer & other witnesses. Later landlord also butted in. Next three days were devoted to discussions, discussions & more discussions. I had to listen with closed eyes & open ears & vice versa! I took the stand that both officers had spoiled the show therefore both be punished / transferred from the branch.
Disciplined with a stick!
Minutes of Meetings are as under. Till date these minutes have not been approved.
ZM to BM : You say that both be transferred. How will you run the branch bhai ? I can’t give you two substitutes instantly. They don’t grow on trees you know. See senior one is retiring this year. Junior one has long career.  Now both will be going to their leaders & pressure will come on me. Difficult situation for me bhai.
Saab ke liye chai lao bhai. Biscit bhi lana. Yes I was saying that will you stick to your stand about their transfer? If yes then let me call the leader. In his presence please stick to your stand. Otherwise I may not be able to do anything. Arre bhai I also want to hang them both but my hands are tied. 
Leader to BM : Why are you insisting on transfer sirji? What was the need for reporting this? It could have been solved by us. Senior one is about to retire & he will be after me to stop this transfer. Junior will also ask for rafa-dafa. He has a long way to go. In fact both have gone mad. I feel like goli maar do dono ko.
Chai lana yaar jara jaldi. I have to go to ZO now to discuss this matter. My request yaar please don’t ask for their transfer sir. I will find out a way. Saala ZM will agree but he might ask for something in exchange. Please please sirji. My personal request again don’t insist on transfer.

Sharma the old man to BM : Sirjee just keep in mind that I have to retire in 8 months & 10 days sir. Sir I am not in a position to go on a transfer at this stage sir. Please sirjee. It was Varma who started all this. Believe me sir. I have never done anything like this in my whole life sir.
Have your tea sir getting cold. You can very well check my reputation from previous branches sir. Only this Varma has started this entire thing sir. He should be transferred. He speaks against you on your back sir. Complete rascal sir this Varma. I wanted to visit your place with my wife as she also wanted to make a request. But I have already told her about your kindness sirjee.

Varma the young officer to BM : I heard about transfer sir. My request to you is that matter be reconsidered please. It is the old man who acted funny not me. His eye sight & mental faculties have dimmed sir. He started abusing & I have witnesses to prove it. I am not afraid of transfer sir but going like this is not fair. I hope you will do justice sir. No transfer sir. Please.

Landlord to BM : CM Saab they have spoiled the reputation of your bank. This is a govt bank otherwise both would have been dismissed. Pucca saab pucca. Least you can do is to transfer them. Otherwise our shop keepers association will write to higher ups also. Saab entire market is talking about your officers fighting in the office! This is shameful saab. You must transfer them from this branch one to Assam & other to Kashmir to teach them a lesson.

Surprised Chief Manager to BM : We are colleagues dear in the same boat. You understand once the enquiry about this starts they would call me as witness yaar. That would be very embarrassing for a senior person like me or for that matter you to take side of one junior. Hai na? Let the matter be buried yaar. Forget transfer of these two. What is it to us? Marne do.
Lets concentrate on interview dear for AGM. My contacts inform that interview is coming very shortly as things are ready. One request dear.  Don’t bring my name anywhere in this episode. In fact I was going to a neighboring branch for Surprise Inspection & not yours. I have already talked to ZM on this. Bye then.

On fourth day I requested for my transfer back to Jhumri Taliyya! 
Ready to Go! 

Friday, 26 July 2013

Keep Your Shirt On Branch Manager!

After the sunset
Job profile of a branch manager involves several features which are not listed in the rule book. In between customers, clerical staff, officers & controlling bosses there are moments of pleasure & pain for the branch manager. Some of the odd jobs I did as BM may not qualify for inclusion in the  duty sheet. Have a look on this one.

Months of May & June in Silchar, Assam have awful weather – hot, humid & air less. Sweat flows on face & from whole body. Keep wiping or washing or bathing but it comes up again. Outside in the sun the skin just burns & inside the branch lazy fans don’t provide any comfort and they won’t work without electricity which was erratic in supply.

It was a small branch having staff of 12 & was on first floor of a shop-cum-house in main bazaar area which remained crowded during the day. Road remained full of cycles, rickshaws, two wheeler's  one or two lazily moving cows & occasional cars & army vehicles. As elsewhere in other towns of India, honking of horns, ringing of rickshaw bells never stops & the sounds reach even first floor cabin also.

For last several days three of clerical staff & one officer had not turned up & work was piling up. On top of that I had to attend a week’s training on Branch Management. I wanted to finish off loan statements to avoid displeasure of Regional Manager & decided to sit late all alone in the evening. The heat inside the cabin was oppressive & the fan refused to accelerate. After about an hour the shirt was wet with sweat & it became unbearable & out of desperation I took off my shirt & hanged it on back of the chair.

That I was visible to an onlooker from first floor of a house across the road was not known to me. Whosoever saw me immediately reported to our landlord. He along with landlady rushed upstairs & started banging the channel gate.

Well thereafter I have kept my shirt on in office. Always.
Keep Your Shirt On!

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Branch Manager as Fire Fighter

Job profile of a branch manager involves several features which are not listed in the rule book. In between customers, clerical staff, officers & controlling bosses there are moments of pleasure & pain for the branch manager. Some of the odd jobs I did as BM may not qualify for inclusion in the  duty sheet.  Here is one.

It was a Saturday & I had packed & placed my bag in my spacecraft Maruti 800 provided by the bank. Expected time of departure: 1415 hrs, destination: Delhi. All set.

The branch I was heading had a currency chest also where four policemen were on 24 hrs duty. Most of the time they used to sit at the end of the hall. Besides this the branch had staff strength of approx 30 & it being a Saturday customers were present in good numbers.

At about 1315 hrs from the window of my cabin I noticed smoke emanating from main switch. It was fixed on a wooden board which was also having several switches, cut-outs, electric meter & changeover box of generator. It was a jumble of thick & thin hanging colourful electrical wires.

Sensing trouble, I rang the bell & asked the peon to check & switch off the lights if necessary. By the time he tried to see through the switches, a flame erupted. Before he could do anything about it, the flame burst into a fire ball with a big bang of a cracker. All switches, meter & MCBs on the wooden board were shattered & gone. Thick black smoke started bellowing with acrid smell of burning rubber spreading in the hall choking those who were near it.

Policemen continued their gossiping with a casual eye on the fire, most of the customers & staff stared at the fire, shouted for guard but nobody moved.

Guard, an officer & I rushed to open the fire extinguisher. None could.

A software engineer working in branch on contract opened it. Then we both picked up the bulky extinguisher & pointed the foamy nozzle to the burning board. This worked & fire started dimming before fire brigade arrived.

Weekend mood was spoiled & departure cancelled. Thereafter the fire which began to burn inside was put out by a glass of chilled beer.

Saturday, 20 July 2013

Pran the villain & my bosses

It used to be a matter of great joy for us kids if we were to be taken to a movie. Once the decision was announced preparations began with selection of best combination of clothes. Boots were polished and cycle was cleaned & home work was completed first thing in the morning. Friends & classmates were informed with an air of superiority & of a great achievement. After a bath & breakfast we kids got ready hours before the matinee show.

Cinema hall was at a distance of nearly 3 kms which was normally covered on rickshaw or a cycle. But no, dad announced a diktat that weather was comfortable everybody would walk to & fro the theatre! Okay okay with pleasure as none would dare protest on such a day!

That’s where I saw Pran on screen. He looked suave & smart but mean with penetrating eyes, cigarette dangling from his lips & blowing smoky rings in between puffs. Before interval he had tricked, harassed, blackmailed or shot relatives of our hero or of beloved heroine. How one hated him for all this & wished that somebody put him in a bracket! His appearance in every new film had distinct in style in clothes, in manners or in dialogues. His screen images lingered on & on.

Beware of Mahishsur the boss
In fact the images of screen villains like Pran, K N Singh, Jeevan, Madan Puri, & some well known characters of Ramayan & Mahabharat like Shakuni Mama, Kans, Ravan, Mahishasur, Bhasmasur etc later became parameters to rename the Bosses when I joined the bank service.

Everybody has a boss & everybody loves to hate him for no boss is perfect.  And every boss has his own boss to reckon with. Of course not all bosses are like Shakuni Mama. Some are good some are bad & some downright ugly! It was with bad & ugly that comparison came in handy between bosses & villains.

There was a boss Sh Singh working as Regional Manager once upon a time. He was a little fussy & a little suspicious of everything. He would read the office copy of a letter, ask questions on it, initial it and then he will read the original letter but will not sign. He would then pick up next file and would read the office copy, initial it and then read the original letter but not sign. All such files would be bunched together & kept on the right hand side of the table. Then in the evening after 4 pm all such letters would be signed & released in one go. He would be informing every bit of happenings to his boss. While leaving office he would double check window, locks of all drawers, almirah & small safe & door of the cabin. Nick named Shakuni Mama for his acts of suspicion & of informer!

Raavan the boss getting ready
Regional Manager Sh Sharma had altogether different style. He liked to clear the files section wise & in presence of an officer of that section. In case, say HRD fellow was not available the files would be kept aside. In case HRD fellow was not available for ten days the files were held up for as many days. After all the sky was not going to fall in ten days! While he would visit branch, he would prefer to keep an officer with him as helper. He would rather scold, bark & motivate but for paper work he always needed an assistant & was named K N Singh the gangster, who also moved with a bunch of handymen & executioners.

Yes Boss
Another boss Sh Kumar always paid more attention to his suits, shoes & perfumes rather than files or issues. His attention & focus was on cleanliness, orderliness, neatly printed letters rather than the contents. Like Pran in film Sharaabi. He despised dirty or dusty files, rebuked if papers were not paged, marked or flagged properly. He objected if you were not wearing tie etc. However spellings or missing a line or two in letters was not noticed by him as he became impatient in matters mundane. In one letter branch was to be advised - ‘Please meet the complainant & explain the position’. He did not notice the mistake & he signed – ‘Please beat the complainant.....’!

What about your boss?


Wednesday, 17 July 2013

On Bangalore - Mysore Road, SH-17

Mysore is 150 kms southwest of Bangalore. Road connecting the two places is a good four lane road and coconut trees, lush green fields & hills on either side  make it a lovely drive. Eateries & resorts line up the road. Spoilers are large hoardings on either side of the road. And to keep you safe they decided to put speed breakers after every few kilometers  If it is not a speed breaker it is a cut for u-turn, or a barricade or a red light or a bullock cart. And they have ‘designer breakers’ -a large hump, or set of two small-humps or a set of five / seven smaller humps! So take it easy with accelerator.

Train connection is also available.

We were surprised when a train had overtaken us from the left!

The train was chased for a few kilometers after which it disappeared beyond hills! Following video records that.

Horse power & bullock power on Highway!

Some celebration 

This is College of Folklore. It is adjacent to famous restaurant Kamat in the village Kamat. Following video shows an item being practiced by students.  


Fellow on the electric pole! 
Bullock power on your right. Right is wrong & left is right!

Keep watching left-right, front-back and up-down too!
Is he looking for a catch of helicopter shot up there?

Traffic jam also creates opportunities. He knocks on cars  & seeks donation.

Cut-outs of film heroes are very popular all over South India

Three is a crowd!

Lovely sight on SH-17

Destination is very near

Finally at the gate of Mysore Palace!

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Visit to Mysore

Mysore is located approx 150 kms from Bangalore at the base of Chamundi Hills. Its elevation is 770 meters from sea level & it is spread over 130 sq kms. Population of Mysore is less than ten lacs. Weather is hot & humid & best time to visit is Oct –Mar.

Mysore Palace
Bangalore-Mysore road is a good four lane road and coconut trees, lush green fields & hills on either side  make it a lovely drive. Eateries & resorts line up the road. Spoilers are large hoardings on either side of the road. And to keep you safe they decided to put speed breakers after every few kilometers  If it is not a speed breaker it is a cut for u-turn, or a barricade or a red light or a cow. And they have ‘designer breakers’ -a large hump, or set of two small-humps or a set of five / seven smaller humps! So take it easy with accelerator. Train connection is also available.

At the Palace gate

Lush green & beautiful
Rain clouds gather over the Palace

Palace was built in 1897 - 1912 by an English Architect

Mysore was the capital of Kingdom of Mysore ruled by Wadiyar’s (Odiyar’s in Kannada) from 1399 till 1947 when it was merged in India. For a brief period it was taken over by Haider Ali & then by his son Tipu who was killed by British in 1799. Thereafter British handed over a truncated kingdom of Mysore as princely state back to Wadiyar’s. It was Krishnaraja Wadiyar IV who put the city on world map by planning & beautifying Mysore.

It was built to replace a wooden palace destroyed in fire

Front Elevation

It also houses a residential quarters 

One of the several temples inside the Palace
Grand & graceful

Mysore City's Signature

Front lawns

Crouching tigers
Name of the town is derived from Mahishasurana Ooru – town of Mahisha the Asura. A mythological legend has it that Mysore area was once ruled by a powerful but cruel demon king Mahisha Asura. Mahisha could assume the form of buffalo (mahisha) as well. He was powerful, cruel & became invincible out to wreck the world. Prayers of devtas for deliverance from this demon were heard by goddess Parvati & she took birth as Chamunda. After a fierce fight for ten days the demon Mahisha was slain by her on the hill top. The hill has thus been named Chamundi Hill & the Goddess been named Mahishasur Mardini or Chamundeshwari.

Chamundeshwari temple is situated atop Chamundi Hills. Another historical version is that Cha was Goddess of Munda tribals to whom the offerings were made of animals, humans & liquor. Slowly Mundas merged into Hindus & the sacrifices ended & the name Chamunda persisted. Initially temple was small one & sacrifices were also offered but were stopped in eighteenth century. It could be reached by road these days or by way of climbing 1000 steps.

Temple is over a thousand year old. Various kings have contributed to it over the years & it has grown into a magnificent & a busy temple.


Welcome to Chamundi Hills says Mahishasur 

Essentials for pooja are available here

This clutter of barricades spoil the beauty & the serenity of the temple. There are three lines for Darshan - free, Rs.30/ & Rs.100/. Even with Rs.100/ tickets in hand it took one hour to reach inside. Inside it is stuffy due to burning of agarbattis, lamps & crowd. One fleeting darshan & guards push you out. If you want to stay longer pay bakshish! 

Idol being taken to temple

Front elevation 

Here the coconuts are being smashed & broken by the people on right. People on left a boy, lady & the fellow in saffron picks them up. White bag is getting filled up of broken coconuts.

Flowers, molly thread, kumkum, fruits, agarbatti are being sold. Everyone of them mostly ladies, shouts for your attention.  

Beauty of the right side of temple is spoiled by tin roofs & iron structures.

They are specialist in threads. Looks like a customer has been lost to a competitor

Lord Ganesha presides over the entrance

Just outside of sanctum-sanctorum. You can have Charnamrit & Tilak here

View of Mysore from Chamundi Hill

Another view of Mysore on left foreground is the Chamundi Hill

St Philomena’s Church is situated in the middle of the town & has a imposing & magnificent look with lofty towers. The Maharaja of Mysore laid the foundation of the church on 28.10.1933. The church was designed by a Frenchman & its architecture was inspired by Cologne Cathedral, Germany. On the backside we were shown a tunnel reported to be linked to the palace which has since been closed.  
Imposing towers of St Philomena's Church

Twin spires are 175 feet high

Front Doors 

Side view
Imposing & majestic towers

Side view
Mosque made by Maharja
Clock Tower 


Tipu Sultan eldest son of Haider Ali ruled Mysore kingdom from 1782 to 1799. He was a soldier & a scholar. He knew French, English & promoted Hindustani in administration. He introduced new coins, new calendar & new land revenue system. Both Haider & Tipu had their capital in Srirangapatana approx 15 kms from Mysore. He had sent diplomatic missions to France, Oman, Afghanistan & Istanbul. He used French army officers to train his army. He fought four wars & in fourth, was killed in his fort at Srirangapatan betrayed by his friend & confidant. After his death his palace Rang Mahal & Lal Mahal within the walls of Srirangapatana fort were looted & completely destroyed. His treasure of gold, cash, family jewelry  his clothes, shoes, firearms, swords & other valuable artifacts were shipped to England.

Here Tipu was shown to his enemies while he came for a bath.  Cauvery flows nearby from where water is available hereArchaeological Survey of India has lot of work to do here.

One of the 15 armouries in the fort
Present day scene inside the Srirangapattana fort! Age old cart - only change is the tyres. Just beneath the bullock cart there ran a moat  30 feet across having crocodiles. Presently it is dry & is home to shrubs, bushes, snakes & other lizards.

Madrasa building in the fort. Said to have been a temple. On top of Minars there are Kalashas & on two corners of the building on the roadside there are figures of Vishnu & cobra Nag. 

One of the armouries

One of the 24 watch towers of the fort. This one has been refurbished as flag hoisting stage

Delhi Gate. Small chambers are meant for guards.

Colonel  Bailey's Dungeon. Here English Army officers were kept prisoners. They were chained to stone pegs in the wall. Several of them died here including Col Bailey.

Entrance to the Dungeon. It is almost four floors down.

Back of the mausoleum - Gumbaz

Entrance of the mausaleum - Gumbaz

Haider Ali, Fatima & Tipu lie buried in this Gumbaz

Gumbaz & flag of Tipu. Inside the mausoleum walls & ceiling have have been done like stripes & skin of a tiger.