Thursday, 27 February 2014

Hair Loss of Boss

If you happen to join us for lunch, you shall get to know my boss. You see he is short, with beer belly, shiny bald head with a tuft of hair trying to stand upright on his bald head. Hence the nick name The Baldy.

It was expected of all five branch managers in the town of Jhumri Talliya that they join lunch with The Baldy in his office. Not that he hosted the lunch daily but one had to contribute nominally on monthly basis & rest was on the house. Besides you were also entitled to gift of a tie on your birthday.

The variety in menu was good, office peon served well but protocol had to be observed you see. This meant that biryani which was choice of The Baldy came first & your choice of Kadi chawal entered the menu a week later. Protocol also meant that you laughed more on the silly jokes cracked by the boss & also appreciated his shirts.

On Monday during the lunch, discussion somehow veered around to human hair. Now all branch managers present there had more or less ample hair on their heads. Two of them had natural black with 20-30% turning white. Others used black hair colour. Odd man out was the boss The Baldy who sighed & said,

- I am loosing a lot of them after posting in Jhumri Talliya you see. Paani of Jhumri is no good I say.

Everyone was struck with grief & was trying to sympathise with him. I felt like calling a condolence meeting of staff of all the branches on the subject matter of boss loosing his hair. But meantime others had started offering suggestions.

Manager Goel - Sir I use charcoal boiled in mustard oil. My wife prepares a paste for me & I apply this on my scalp on weekly basis. Very useful sir.

- Oho Goel what paste? I say my hair is disappearing & you are talking about black colour. You better apply on your face also at least your beard will not be white. I am asking you about deposits you are replying about NPAs, retorted The Baldy.

Manager Anand - Sir a new beer based shampoo cum hair raiser cum hair nourisher has come in the market but I am not sure of the name sir. I suggest you try this sir. I will get you a bottle sir. May be hair will start growing.

- Arre Anand, I know, I know. You are PhD in beer usage & want me to have a bath in beer do you? Go take a walk, you are on the verge of becoming NPA, rebuked The Baldy.

Manager Gupta - Sir why can't we go for hair transplant? Costs one lac or so & takes a month or so. We can send the bill under medical benefit scheme to Head Office sir.

-Oye Guptaji it is much more expensive, more time consuming & of course Head Office will never pay. Forget it & get lost. Money comes first to your mind Guptaji, said The Baldy.

Manager Verma - Sir we can apply for transfer from Jhumri to Head Office on medical grounds. No sir?

- Yaar Varmaji keep your ideas to yourself will you? You don't know the background of my posting here. That's a long story not to be discussed over lunch but over dinner you know, said The Baldy.

Manager Sharma - Sir may I suggest use of amla oil in the night & washing it off in the morning? But there is a condition attached to it sir. It has to be applied on the scalp by soft fingers of madamji or your sister in law to be effective.

- Good Sharma good. I don't like this oil applying business but I do like soft fingers on my scalp. Specially if the fingers are of sister in law.

Nice hair style

Saturday, 22 February 2014

High Tea in Jhumri Talliya

Phone rang & PA to Zonal Manager informed of boss wanting to visit the branch. Welcome said I. Could one say anything better?

Let me draw a sketch of my boss for you - bald, round faced, a few strands of hair trying to stand up on his head, short of height & a big beer belly. Nick named The Baldy, he talks as if he alone is right & most experienced. Likes to drink in the evening with preference for roasted leg or two of chicken or some kebab.

PA further informed that The Baldy shall be reaching the branch around 4 pm & it would be better if high tea is organised for him. Welcome said I. Could one say anything better?

Now having spent most of the time in rural & small town branches this term 'high tea' did not make any sense to me. I checked up with staff in the branch who had heard of tea but not 'high tea'. I checked back with PA who said 'yaar along with tea have some cashews, samosas & pastries that's about all'. To be sure I checked up dictionary as well. High tea is defined as a meal including tea, butter toasts, jam & cakes served between 5 pm to 7 pm. It is said to have been started by British aristocracy around the year 1825. So The Baldy must have been born prior to 1825 CE in British aristocracy.

Now the menu was clear - tea, cashews, samosa & biscuits as pastries in Jhumri were heard of but not available. It is a small town full of ponds & ducks. Vermaji informed that keema samosa of Yaseen halwai is world famous in Jhumri & is available only in the evenings. In case The Baldy saab is non veg, he would relish it. In case saab stays for drinks than chicken tangri & kebabs can also be organised from Yaseen bhai. That settled the menu.

Having finished with official work, all officers joined The Baldy for high tea. He relished the keema samosa & thanked Varmaji for the show. Thereafter he preached & sermonised about hard work for increasing business figures & achieving targets & so on. By now it was late & he accepted an offer of a small peg before departing. All officers gathered after a break in a room in nearby hotel. Varmaji was bubbling with energy & had organised it well with chilled beer, whisky, kebabs & special edition of keema samosa for the gathering.

After first peg things became cordial & everybody listened to old repeated jokes of The Baldy & laughed heartily as if these were the best ones. After all The Baldy is the boss & signs the annual appraisal sheet. As the party went in to next round of cheers, keema samosa arrived to the delight of all but Sharmaji who takes drinks but is non-veg. As a round of large pegs was served. After having a bite The Baldy started praising spicy & tasty samosa. Sharmaji jumped in & proclaimed that he had heard about Yaseen using buffalo meat in place of mutton & ducks in place of chickens in kebabs.

Well there was a pin drop silence in the room.
I am not sure what effect Keema would have on annual appraisal or whether a memo would follow.

Friday, 7 February 2014

Paying Machine the ATM

ATM_pinpad_in_german.jpg (295×213)
Key pad of ATM
Machines, gadgets & appliances give a creepy feeling to me. Specially those in offices like tea/coffee vending machine or ATM as they don't smile or frown or even glance at you like Chhotu chaiwala & Sunder Lal cashier do. The machines just stand there, hiss & whirr when you poke them with a card. They deliver & then become quiet. And you can't thank them even if you want to say 'Mr ATM thanks for correct amount' or 'Ms Coffee Machine that was a good cup of coffee'.

But without discussing machines with me, my banker sent me a colourful little ATM card with so many instructions that me on pension got nothing but tension. So I confronted the branch manager with unsolicited card.

You might have met my branch manger The Baldy. He is short with beer belly, one or two strands of hair standing upright on his bald shiny head which is the genesis of his nick name. The Baldy was all smiles & explained that I could access my account without help of a teller 24*7*365. I could withdraw cash, transfer funds to other accounts, get to know the balance or get a statement of last couple of transactions.

But I am comfortable with Sunder Lal cashier & I have sufficient time with me as I have six days off every week not counting Sunday. Besides I don't like the face of ATM compared to that of Sunder Lal, I told The Baldy. He smiled & offered me training instead.

The Baldy informed about magnetic stripe on the card which is read by machine & by putting in the personal identification number PIN on the key pad of ATM account could be reached. 

Thereafter I have made searches in the internet & have unearthed the history of ATM. It all began in 1961 with a machine called Bankograph. It was installed by Citi Bank of New York for accepting automated envelope deposit containing coins, cash or cheques. It did not dispense cash & therefore customers lost interest. This machine hardly lasted six months.

In 1969, Chemical Bank installed first ATM in New York. This machine dispensed fixed amounts of cash when customer inserted his coded card. This machine was designed by Donald Wetzel & was called Docuteller.

In 1972 Lloyds Bank installed IBM 2984 Cash Issuing Terminal in London which was perhaps the first modern ATM.

In India ATM made its first appearance in 1987 when HSBC introduced the concept.

Presently ATMs are spread far & wide all over the globe. Interesting to note that the most northerly ATM is in Norway & most southerly in New Zealand's Ross Dependency in Antarctica. ATM on highest altitude has been installed by Axis Bank at Nathu La at 13200 ft. Though Chinese media claims to have highest installed ATM at Nagchu, Tibet which again is a disputed territory. And the lowest one is at 421 meters below sea level at Ein Bokek, Israel.

In India practically all the ATMs are interconnected with National Financial Switch (NFS) designed & implemented by Institute of Development & Research in Banking Technology, Hyderabad.

As of Sept 2013 this network connects approx 1.40 lacs ATMs of 74 member banks, 99 sub-member banks, 42 RRBs & 1 Whitelabel ATM provider. Whitelabel ATMs were first started in Canada & these have also been introduced in India. Whitelabel ATMs are provided by non banking companies approved by RBI. Most of the these machines are supplied by NCR, Diebold or IBM.

Now I do get my payments from machine which has no feelings but I miss smile of Sunder Lal cashier & tea of Chhotu chaiwala.

Machine that pays!