Sunday, May 27, 2012

Looking Back - Episode – 11

BGR was relieved from the Subedar Chatram Road Bangalore branch in December 1970 for reporting at the Big Bazaar branch in Shimoga. The post of an Officer (Accountant) in Canara Bank in those days carried a lot of respect in the society in addition to an enviable (?) salary package. BGR was in high spirits as he was posted to a prestigious branch with a great opportunity to prove his credentials. As he was travelling to Shimoga he undertook a quick stock of his personal achievements and qualifications so far in Canara Bank. He also decided that he should welcome, train and encourage new recruits into the bank just like Somnath Narayan did for him in the beginning.
Besides being an expert typist, BGR had gained full knowledge in all the departments of the branch. He had completed B.Com and CAIIB through his hard work. He had secured first rank in both his junior training and senior training and the Leadership prize in the junior training. Having worked in a big branch in Bangalore was going to be another plus point.  With his ability to get on with his colleagues, he had developed leadership qualities.  He was young and was eager to work hard to build and lead a team. Needless to say BGR landed at the Shimoga branch with high spirits.
N Gundu Rao was the manager of the branch at that time. He welcomed BGR whole-heartedly and introduced him to all his colleagues. The first impression of BGR on the branch premises was disappointing. The premises on the first floor was situated at the entrance of the busy Big Bazaar and the up-keep was shabby– to put it mildly! The staff appeared to be cheerful. But compared to the Bangalore standards, they were not so well dressed!
The branch had two specimen sub-staff – PAP Nayak and Madhavaraya Shenoy. PAP was a very senior employee - but the problem with him was - he was not serious about his work. He focused more on personal welfare and investments than his duties in the bank! In fact he thought that the employment in the bank was meant for building a personal asset-base! He was a non-matriculate. But he could have taught a lesson or two to the present day investment bankers! But unfortunately the banking in those days simply meant opening a SB account and keeping the surplus funds in fixed deposit!
But PAP did not believe in such simple banking. He was a first generation shrewd investor. The first thing he did was to build a house in Shimoga by availing the bank loan at a simple interest rate of 3.5% and let it out on rent. He also meticulously built up a portfolio of equity shares of Canara Bank Ltd. His investment grew at a compounded rate with the Canara Bank Ltd shares being eventually converted to L&T shares upon the nationalization of the banks. The small investment turned into a minor fortune! There were several stories on the way PAP entertained the visiting executives of Canara Bank. The managers made it a point to use him on such occasions. But let us not delve into them here to avoid embarrassment to the concerned!
Madhavaraya Shenoy (MS) was definitely another specimen sub-staff. But his character was in total contrast with that of PAP. He was the second daftary – whose duty was to stitch cash bundles daily. Unlike PAP, who had the blessings of Goddess Lakshmi, MS had the misfortune of Lakshmi deserting him totally! His meager salary was spent on family maintenance. But a major portion of it also went for his pan-beeda consumption. His mouth and lips would be always reddish with the saliva overflowing and creating nuisance to the customers. He would go on talking continuously spraying the pan juice liberally on the hapless colleagues – particularly the cashiers!
MS had a typical personality wearing thick glasses and totally confusing the persons who came into contact with him by his endless chatter! His dream was to become a super rich man one day. But he believed only on luck and nothing else. He had his own justification to believe in luck. Let me explain:
The Government of Mysore had just introduced its Lottery Scheme at that time. The first prize had been fixed at Rs1 lakh. It was quite a lot of money in those day standards. The first winner turned out to be a person from Hospet. His photo and personal history were published prominently in all the Kannada newspapers. The entire Kannadiga population was envious of the lucky guy. Our MS also went through the personal history of the winner as he also believed in winning the lottery one fine day. To his surprise he found out that the winner was a distant cousin of him.
MS immediately wrote a letter to his beloved cousin highlighting their forgotten relationship. He congratulated his cousin whole-heartedly and explained to him the reasons for inability so far to meet him! He even said that he was feeling a sense of guilt for not keeping in touch with his beloved cousin! He drafted the letter in such a way that his beloved cousin would get the appropriate message! The message was actually very simple. He had tried to tell the beloved cousin that he would not mind sharing a small portion of his booty!
MS was eagerly awaiting the reply from his beloved cousin. In fact he was even wondering what portion of the prize money his cousin would remit to him. But unfortunately there was no response from the cousin. But an interview in a Kannada newspaper revealed the reasons for the cousin failing to respond to his ‘relatives’. The lucky winner had told the interviewer that he had received letters from his ‘cousins’ from all over Karnataka expressing their willingness to share a portion of the prize money! He wanted to thank all of them for remembering their ‘distant cousin’ on this happy occasion!
BGR came to know that the branch was being shifted to a better and spacious premise shortly. That motivated him to some extent. He started his official duties with lot of hope and spirits.
------- (To be continued)
A V Krishnamurthy
27th May 2012

Monday, May 21, 2012

I Don’t Know, Son! - 47

The Retrospective Effect Saga!
Son: The Finance Ministry’s proposal to amend the IT Act with retrospective effect to collect capital gains tax from Vodafone is creating ripples across the world, dad.
Father: True, go on son.
Son: Such an amendment may open a Pandora’s Box with many such acquisitions in the past getting caught up in the taxation conundrum, dad.
Father: Go on, son.
Son: Even the Government of UK (Vodafone is based in UK) is said to be highly perturbed and is said to have raised the issue, dad.
Father: Go on, son.
Son: But the finance ministry is unperturbed, dad. One of the officials is said to have even suggested that the ministry may put the effective date from the day East India Company arrived in India, dad!
Father: Wonderful. Go on, son.
Son: Since the UK Government had taken over the East India Company, the ministry wants the present Government to cough up the money, dad!
Father: I don’t know, son!
Another Retrospective Amendment!
Son: Kapil Sibal, the Minister for HRD, is in the news now-a-days for all the wrong reasons, dad.
Father: True. Go on, son.
Son: The experts in the education field have strongly criticized his decision to ban a text book on account of the recent cartoon controversy, dad.
Father: True. Go on, son.
Son: The textbook had been prescribed in 2006 and till now there were no objections to the cartoon now in limelight, dad.
Father: Go on, son.
Son: When asked what was the point in banning a textbook after it had been there since 2006, Sibal had a simple solution, dad.
Father: Go on, son.
Son: He said that the Government will make the ban applicable with retrospective effect (from 2006), dad!
Father: I don’t know, son!
Man in Jail for ‘Killing’ woman who is alive!
Son: A report in Deccan Herald says that a senior citizen Gauri Rai is languishing in Begusarai jail in Bihar for ‘killing’ his daughter-in-law, dad.
Father: Go on, Son.
Son: The woman who is declared dead is actually roaming around in Jalandhar in Punjab along with her new found love, dad!
Father: Go on, son.
Son: The goof up came to light when the ‘dead’ woman appeared before a sub-divisional police officer in Punjab and admitted that she had fled to Punjab with her lover, dad.
Father: Go on, son.
Son: The police officers now say that they will release the senior citizen at the earliest.
Father: Go on, son.
Son: When asked how they would compensate him for the mental agony and social stigma, the officials said that they would release him with “retrospective effect”, dad!
Father: I don’t know, son!
Another new Idea!
Son: The Finance Ministry’s proposal for back-dated amendment of Income Tax Act, is giving ideas to even corporates, dad.
Father: How come? Go on, son.
Son: A well known Biotechnology company in Bangalore has hit upon a new idea, dad.
Father: Go on, son.
Son: The firm was facing some financial difficulty on account of the slowdown in the economy, dad.
Father: Go on, son.
Son: It is said to have implemented a salary package with retrospective effect, dad.
Father: Appears very normal. Go on, son.
Son: Not exactly, dad. The management has actually reduced the salaries of employees and has told them that the arrears will be recovered from their monthly salaries in future, dad!
Father: I don’t know, son!
The Divorce Tamasha!
Son: A married couple had applied for divorce in a family court, dad.
Father: Go on, son.
Son: The husband requested the court to order the divorce with retrospective effect from the date of marriage, dad!
Father: Interesting. Go on, son.
Son: The curious judge asked him the reasons for the strange request, dad.
Father: Go on, son.
Son: The husband told the court that the question of maintenance charges for the wife will not be there if the divorce is permitted with back-dated effect, dad!
Father: Go on, son.
Son: He added that he got the idea from the Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, dad!
Father: I don’t know, son!
A V Krishnamurthy
21st May 2012

Friday, May 18, 2012

Looking Back - Episode - 10

One of the most interesting and challenging work in a bank branch is the preparation of the annual P&L account and the Balance Sheet. Generally it used to be the privilege of the senior most officer and the manager of the branch. Hardly any of the clerks could get exposure to this special work in those days. But Mallya was reluctant to entrust this work to his Accountant or the Special Assistant. He would ask BGR to prepare the same exclusively. BGR utilized this opportunity to his full advantage. He would chalk out a proper plan and prepare the balance sheet with accuracy and neatness with the assistance of other clerks. He would complete the work so correctly and meticulously that the auditors could hardly make any remarks. He went on to prepare the balance sheets for three successive years in the branch. This stood him well when eventually he was promoted as an officer.
BGR as a Trade Union Leader
Many of the colleagues of BGR, who came into contact with him only at the later part of his career, may not be even aware that he was a very staunch and active trade union leader in his younger days. He belonged to a rare breed of union leaders who could not only lead the employees in trade union activities, but also perform exceedingly well in their professional roles. BGR’s strength lay in the fact that he never compromised his professional duties for the union activities. No doubt it was truly a delicate balancing act. But he could do it and do it successfully at that! I am proud to say that he stood tall among the other union leaders with this special and exceptional capacity.
BGR started his union activity as a member of the Canara Bank Employees’ Union affiliated to AIBEA. The union had been recognised by the bank and regular joint conferences used to be held to negotiate various issues between the union and the bank management. However, post the annual conference of the union in 1967 at Madras, there was a split and the Staff Union was formed in 1968. At this juncture there were strikes, agitations, court cases, frivolous charge sheets, transfers, etc. There was total turmoil and utter chaos prevailed. The management stopped calling joint conferences in this background.
The central committee decided to hold the General Body meeting in Bangalore in July 1969. Upendra Shenoy was nominated as the Chairman, while BGR was made the convener of the Reception Committee. It was a huge responsibility and BGR’s organizing capacity came to the fore at that time. Of course, one of the challenges was mobilizing the necessary finance. All the active members of the union became busy and participated enthusiastically.
The inaugural conference was to be held at the Town Hall on 26th July 1969 and the delegates’ session for the next three days at Kuchalamba Choultry in Jayanagar. On the day of inauguration more than 2,500 members (including 707 delegates) assembled at the City Market at 4.30 pm and the procession moved to Town Hall by 6 pm. Meanwhile, sensing the mood of the assembled members, the bank management sent a word to A C Nayak (ACN), the Liaison Secretary, to meet B V Bhandary, the DGM. On meeting him, ACN was told to convey the message to C Subramanian (CS), the General Secretary, that the bank had decided to call a joint conference within ten days to settle all the pending issues.
The Conference was inaugurated by D P Chadha, the President of AIBEA. After his speech, CS, as General Secretary, announced the good tidings – the message from the bank management. The entire gathering cheered the news and clapping and thumping went on for over ten minutes. The delegates’ session on the next three days was highly successful. The discussions were of a very high order. BGR was totally involved. With the co-operation of the young comrades, the conference was a grand success with excellent arrangement and to the full satisfaction of delegates from different parts of the country.
After the joint conference, the bank announced the date of promotion test as 9th August 1969. At this juncture, BGR and his colleagues were enjoying the success of the Conference and were busy with attending the post-conference work like writing the accounts, etc. Meanwhile, the Government of India announced the nationalization of 14 commercial banks on 19 July 1969. The word “Ltd’ was removed from the name boards of the nationalised banks immediately. Interestingly, within a week, the Supreme Court struck down the Bank Nationalisation Act on some technical grounds. Some of the banks like Bank of Baroda and Bank of India immediately replaced the boards with “Ltd” added back! But immediately thereafter, the Government brought an amendment to the Bank Nationalisation Act to plug the loophole and the words “Ltd” were removed once again!
One day before the test, Mallya called BGR to his cabin and wished him best of luck. At that juncture BGR and his friends were basking in the glory of success of the conference. The event and drama of bank nationalisation had also created some sort of confusion. In this background BGR was not in a mood to take the test and he simply gave it a miss!
The next morning when BGR went to the branch, Mallya asked him about his performance in the test. He was shocked to hear that BGR hand absented. Mallya was very angry and expressed his disappointment to BGR in no uncertain terms. According to him, if persons like BGR were not willing to take higher responsibilities who else will work for the growing institution?  BGR simply kept mum.
Several things took place between 1969 and 1970. BGR also got married on 13.05.1970. At this point of time, BGR was also thinking whether he should take a promotion or not. He took a final positive decision and appeared for the test. He secured the promotion and was posted for training at STC initially. This time, Mallya was not interested in retaining him, as he himself was due for a transfer. Eventually BGR was posted to Shimoga Main branch after the training. A new chapter in BGR’s eventful career had started unfolding.
------- (To be continued)
A V Krishnamurthy
18th May 2012

Sunday, May 13, 2012

I Don’t Know, Son! - 46

Karnataka MLA Saved!
Son: A Karnataka MLA was travelling on Nelamangala Main Road in his car when a senior citizen is said to have come in front of the vehicle, dad.
Father: Go on, son.
Son: The vehicle in full speed hit the senior citizen and threw him away, dad.
Father: Go on, son.
Son: But fortunately nothing happened to the MLA, dad!
Father: Go on, son.
Son: He immediately moved into another car and left the scene, dad!
Father: But what about the senior citizen, son?
Son: He was taken to a hospital by his relatives and was declared dead, dad.
Father: What was the reaction of the MLA, son?
Son: He has stated that the pedestrians are not supposed to move in the National Highway, dad!
Father: I don’t know, son!
Exchange of Psychiatrists for Neurologists (Tit for Tat)!
Son: Fortis Healthcare has poached a team of 19 expert psychiatrists from Max Healthcare, dad.
Father: Go on, son.
Son: Sunil Parikh will lead the outgoing team from Max and will head the team at Fortis as Director of Mental Health and Behavioural Sciences, dad.
Father: Go on, son.
Son: A spokesperson of Max Healthcare has stated that crossovers were common in healthcare business, dad.
Father: Go on, son.
Son: He added that Max Healthcare had earlier poached a team of neurologists from Fortis, dad!
Father: Interesting. Go on, son.
Son: It may be interesting to note that both Max Healthcare and Fortis are owned by the family members of the original promoters of the Ranbaxy Group, dad.
Father: I don’t know, son!
The legendary Ganguly!
Son: Shah Rukh Khan, the owner of Kolkata Knight Riders, has called Sourav Ganguly as a cricketing legend, dad.
Father: Go on, Son.
Son: It may be noted that Shah Rukh had unceremoniously ousted Ganguly from his IPL team by not bidding for him in the last IPL auction, dad.
Father: True. Go on, son.
Son: Now that Ganguly is no more in his team, Shah Rukh appears happy to call him a cricketing legend, dad!
Father: Go on, Son.
Son: That the legend and his Pune team are performing miserably in the current season is of course another matter, dad!
Father: I don’t know, son!
Deccan gets Pune Sahara (Help)!
Son: The Deccan Chargers team was at the bottom of the points table with zero points, dad.
Father: True. Go on, son.
Son: The rain God was kind enough to help them to gain at least one point by washing out the match against Kolkata Knight Riders, dad!
Father: True. Go on, son.
Son: The team was still unable to beat any team to put more points in its basket, dad.
Father: Go on, son.
Son: The team looked at the Pune team headed by the legendary Ganguly to give them some Sahara, dad!
Father: Go on, son.
Son: The Pune team was kind enough to extend its Sahara (help), dad.
 Father: Go on, son.
Son: The Pune team put up a miserable performance to help the Hyderabad team to garner four points from both the matches, dad!
Father: I don’t know, son!
A V Krishnamurthy
13th May 2012

Friday, May 11, 2012

Looking Back - Episode – 9

BGR was definitely successful in introducing Canara Bank systems and procedures in the merged Pandyan Bank branch at the Sultan Pet branch. But he could do nothing about the God-forsaken premises of the branch. However, the things changed totally with the shifting of the branch to the first floor of Dhondusa Building in Subedar Chatram Road. The bank also posted a new manager called C N Nagaraj (CNN). A well-built man with an excellent personality, CNN was a dynamic manager. He mobilised very good business by securing number of accounts of traders and readymade garments’ manufacturers. These businessmen were selling their goods to traders in West Bengal, Orissa and Northeast. They were in need of bills/cheques discounting facilities. CNN offered them the same and the branch business grew fast. He also brought in the account of Mohan Aluminium Pvt Ltd. It later became one of the biggest corporate accounts of the Majestic branch.
BGR had an issue with CNN regarding charging interest on bills purchased. The bank used to keep a margin on certain bills and credit only the net amount to the party’s accounts. BGR used to charge interest only on the actual amount credited to the party. His work used to be checked by CNN who would tell him to charge the same on the entire bill amount. BGR then wrote a letter to HO under CNN’s signature seeking their clarification. HO agreed with BGR’s contention. CNN had to fall in line and he took the matter sportively.
CNN was transferred after two years and Mallya was posted in his place from Mumbai. Mallya had habits like drinking and smoking. But he was a knowledgeable man with good connections with higher ups. He was also a moody and short-tempered man. He would be in good mood on one day and spoil the branch atmosphere with his ill temper on the very next day! Sometimes he would not be in his seat for hours together with no information to the next person in-charge!
BGR remembers about the way Mallya dealt with K Annappayya, a gold medalist in B Com, who was posted to the branch as apprentice pupil. Annappayya was an intelligent, young and pleasant personality. He was closely observing the way BGR was working. He told BGR that he had only studied theory in the college and had to go a long way to pick up practical banking. Mallya used to ill-treat the apprentices. One day he called Annappayya to his cabin and shouted at him at the top of his voice for no apparent reasons. Annappayya was totally disheartened and disgusted. He sat in front of BGR and told him that he was never ill-treated by his teachers/lecturers or parents in his life so far. He could not bear such insults anymore and he decided to submit his resignation. Somehow BGR managed to pacify him and stopped him from resigning.
After about a month, Mallya again shouted and insulted Annappayya in the banking hall in front of all the staff. This time he wrote out a resignation letter on the spot. BGR managed to take him out for tea. He told him that Mallya was not Canara Bank and he should not quit the bank hastily just because of one person. There will be definitely other managers who would consider his merit. Annappayya agreed and withdrew his resignation. BGR encouraged him to learn work and after three months he was transferred to another branch. Eventually Annappayya retired as a General Manager. BGR had an occasion to meet him when he was a divisional manager. He was in a meeting with executives and he introduced BGR as his Guru. He also told them that if at all he was still in Canara Bank it was only because of BGR!
Mallya was indeed a typical personality. But he had very good relations with BGR. Many times he would enter into arguments with BGR. There was even one occasion when he called him inside his cabin at 10.30 am and went on arguing some matter till 1.30 pm! BGR told him several times in between that he had lot of work to complete, but to no avail! The beauty of it all was that Mallya would never misunderstand BGR despite of the never ending arguments!
Even though BGR had completed his CAIIB in 1965, he was not eligible for promotion as officer as per the policy prevailing then. Realising this, he joined the Renukacharya Evening College in 1966 and successfully completed the B Com in June 1969. In the month of May 1969 BGR was eligible to become a special Assistant. Even though he had sufficient seniority, he was not hopeful as thirty marks were reserved as discretionary marks by the management. BGR was very much involved in trade union activities and apparently there was no love lost between the management and a trade unionist!
To the surprise of BGR, he received a telephone call on 14 May 1969 that he had been promoted as Special Assistant! The message came from A C Nayak (ACN), a well known trade union leader in Canara Bank. Later Mallya told BGR that he had given him full discretionary marks. He had also strongly recommended that even though BGR was an active union member, he was the backbone of the branch in view of excellent work put up by him.
Mallya also told BGR that he had some vested interest in getting him promoted as Special Assistant. He would become automatically eligible for appearing for the promotion test as Officer/Accountant (as per the agreement then to appear for promotion test one had to be necessarily a Special Assistant). Mallya wanted to retain him in the branch after the promotion! But could he succeed in his strategy? Whether BGR had other ideas? Await the next episode.
------- (To be continued)
A V Krishnamurthy
11th May 2012

Friday, May 4, 2012

Indian Cricket in 2025 – Episode – 3

Scenario 1: Occasion: The Asia Cup in Afghanistan: The First One-Day Match in Kabul: India v/s Sri Lanka
(The Indian team has arrived in Kabul after losing the Triangular Series in Australia. Actually India had a chance of entering the final if only Sri Lanka had lost the last league match to Australia. But that was not to be. However, Sri Lanka lost to Australia in the finals. Sachin’s search for the elusive 200th century continues. He has been again included in the team to enable him to achieve the coveted landmark. The Afghan team is in the limelight and has been admitted to the big league. Kabul is venue to such a great event for the first time. There is excitement all-round. The commentators include Gavaskar, Sastri, Rohit Sharma, Ramiz Raja, Wasim Akram, Dilshan and Mahela Jayawardhane)
Gavaskar: So here we are. It is another opportunity to Sachin to complete that coveted landmark! I remember he had completed his 100th century in Asia Cup held in Bangladesh in 2012. Of course India lost the match and Asia Cup as well!
Sastri: True. One should appreciate the spirit of Sachin even at this age to achieve all types of landmarks! Hats off to him!
Ramiz Raja: It appears to me nowadays India is more focused on Sachin’s achievements than winning the matches. Do you remember when they won their last series?
Wasim Akram: Quite contrary to what happens to such heroes in Pakistan! They are forgotten and consigned to dustbin within no time! I think I need not quote my own example!
Ramiz: You are right Wasim. That is why I forayed into commentary box immediately after retirement. But our fees are nowhere near what Gavaskar and Sastri get!
Dilshan: But you are still better. We in Sri Lanka are paid the fee in installments! To be frank, the fee they paid me last time was for the year 2020! I have maintained an excel sheet for the arrears from 2021 till date!
Mahela: By the by, I am interested to know whether Gavaskar and Sastri are still paid that annual fee of Re one crore by the BCCI? I understand that is over and above the commentary fees paid by the channels. Am I right?
Gavaskar: We do get it regularly even now. But we are perturbed that there has been no increase in the fee after all these years. Not only that even Sharad Pawar Saab took retirement without settling my assured fee of another few crores for IPL-1 & 2!
Wasim: If I remember correctly you are pursuing it since 2011! I appreciate your perseverance!
Gavaskar: I am not going to leave it at any cost. Right now I am pursuing it with Ajit Pawar Saab who has entered the cricket scenario after Sharad Pawar Saab’s retirement on health grounds. He is the current President of BCCI!
Ramiz Raja: Hats off to your patience! I remember your Marathon innings in the inaugural World Cup One-day match in England in 1975!
Rohit: I never heard about it. I am interested to know.
Sastri: Sunny created a record of sorts by playing throughout the match! And it was a 60-over match at that time! He came as opener and ended up not out by lasting till the last ball of the 60th over!
Rohit: Oh my God! And how many runs he scored? He should have scored the winning run, I presume!
Sastri: No way! India lost by 202 runs! The team scored 132 for the loss of three wickets against England’s massive total of 334 for four!
Dilshan: Can’t believe it! What was Sunny Sir’s score then?
Sastri: He scored 36 runs off 174 balls at a strike rate of 21 (per 100 balls) and remained not out! The total included a single four!
(The discussion ends suddenly. There is stunned silence all around. Gavaskar is looking the other way!)
Gavaskar: (Thank God! The discussion has ended. This is one topic I hate to discuss. Forget about giving any explanation for what I did! I myself do not know till date what made me play that stupid innings! Hope Bishan (Singh Bedi) is not viewing the telecast right now!)
Sastri: The game has begun now. Oh! India has lost the first wicket in the very first ball! That brings Sachin into the game!
Ramiz: Let us make it a point not to mention anything about Sachin’s 200th century till he actually achieves it.
(India beats Sri Lanka in the match. Sachin fails to achieve the landmark once again)
Scenario 2: Occasion: The Asia Cup in Afghanistan: The One-Day Match in Kabul: India v/s Afghanistan
(India has already played three matches in the series and lost two of them. But Sachin has failed to complete his 200th century. This is India’s first match against Afghans. Afghans won the toss and elected to bat. The team scored 250 runs. The Indian team has just commenced the innings)
Gavaskar: It is good that Afghans scored 250 runs. If they had made a small score it would have been difficult for Sachin to achieve his landmark!
Ramiz: Oh! It is the same story again. Why don’t you people talk about India winning the match?
Rohit: Sachin is a legend and continues to be so. The whole of India is excited about his achieving the landmark!
Mahela: Oh! India has lost the first wicket! That brings Sachin into the game!
Sastri: Hopefully somebody in the team will put up a partnership to enable Sachin to achieve the landmark.
Wasim: Doesn’t matter even if it is against Afghans - the minnows in the tournament!
Gavaskar: A century is a century against whatever team it is!
(The match moves on. Sachin is playing a defensive waiting game to achieve his landmark. But in the process the run rate slows down and the game slips away. The wickets keep falling around Sachin. India is on the verge of defeat)
Sastri: India has already lost eight wickets. Sachin is in his nineties now! The coveted landmark is just ten runs away!
Ramiz: Another Indian wicket falls! Sachin is on 99 now! The Indian total is also at 199!
Dilshan: Oh! It is the last ball of the 50th over and Sachin is facing the ball! India has already lost the match!
Sastri: The bowler is taking his own time! Oh! He is on the move now!
Gavaskar: The Little Master pushes the ball to midwicket and takes a single run! Oh! He has achieved the landmark!
Ramiz: In the process India has lost the match with a huge margin!  Now it has almost become a rule that India loses the match when Sachin achieves a record!
Sastri: Forget it! The landmark is achieved and it is time to celebrate! Oh! The entire stadium is giving a standing ovation to Sachin!
Ramiz: I am sorry Sastri. The standing ovation by the crowd is for the Afghan team that has won its first match against Indians!
(The defeat against Afghans results in the elimination of India from the finals. The tournament ends with Pakistan winning the Asia Cup. The newspapers and the TV channels in India go overboard to highlight Sachin’s achievement. Interestingly nobody talks about the defeat of Indian team against the underdogs - the Afghan team!)
Scenario 3: Occasion: The Dinner Party at Mukesh Ambani’s House Antilia in Mumbai to Celebrate Sachin’s 200th Century
(Sachin arrives at the party. A huge battalion of TV journalists surrounds him as he gets down from the car)
One Journo: Sir! Now that you have achieved the landmark any ideas of retiring from cricket?
Sachin: Let me make it clear to all of you. Nobody should tell me when to retire. I will continue to play so long as I love to play the game. Right now retirement is not in my mind!
Another journo: Sir! But some of your well-wishers are telling that it is the right time for you to retire!
Sachin: Let me tell you. These well-wishers are not the one who got me into cricket!
Another journo: Sir! What about the young and upcoming cricketers? Don’t you think you are denying entry to at least one young cricketer?
Sachin: But that is not my look out! They can wait! They may continue watching me and follow my footsteps!
Another Journo: Sir! I hear that the Congress Party is thinking of nominating you as their candidate in the ensuing President of India election!
Sachin: It would be an honour for me to accept!
Another Journo: What about cricket then? We know you are sure to get elected unanimously!
Sachin: You are trying to put words in my mouth! Let me repeat. I would not retire from cricket even if I am elected as the President of India!
(Sachin moves into Antilia. The party goes on)
------- Concluded-------
A V Krishnamurthy
4th May 2012

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Looking Back - Episode – 8

VV Puram was a new branch of the bank and BGR got his first opportunity to show his ability to serve the customers. He was given charge of SB accounts including the opening of accounts. Those days it was a simple affair to open a bank account. All one needed was an introduction. No necessity for photos, address proof, identity card and PAN Card! Compared to today it was virtually a cakewalk! But then even the frauds were also unheard of in those days!
BGR would attend the opening of new accounts on priority. After making all the enquiries he would personally introduce the accounts. His service was so quick that by the time the depositor remitted the cash and came back with the counterfoil, he would prepare the passbook and keep it ready. He would then hand it over duly signed by the supervisor after verification of the counterfoil. He found the job quite satisfying.
The Smart Girl and a ‘Minor’ Problem!
In those days very few ladies used to visit the branch. One day BGR found a smart looking girl at the counter. She was a student of the Mount Carmel College and wanted to open a new account. She filled up the account opening form given by BGR. But before putting the introduction BGR had a doubt about her majority status.  He asked her whether she was minor or major. The girl instantly told him that she was a major. But BGR was not convinced and repeated his question. This made the girl angry and she replied that he may get it confirmed from her mother! BGR patiently explained to her that girls below the age of 18 years were considered as minors. The girl was embarrassed and told him that she was actually seventeen! The story had a happy ending when the girl came back with her mother and opened the account on the very next day!
Punishment for Social Service!
One particular day BGR was leaving for the bank in the morning when a lady from the neighbouring house came running to him. She told him that her husband was seriously unwell and she needed help. BGR rushed to the house with her and found her husband in severe pain suffering from blockage of urine in the bladder. He was an officer in the Syndicate Bank and was staying on the first floor of the house. As he was a hefty man weighing over 80 kg, BGR was unable to move him to the ground floor even with the help of his wife. He had to call other neighbours and somehow he managed to take him to the St. Martha’s Hospital by hiring a taxi.
The hospital doctors gave him emergency treatment and they managed to relieve him from the burden of over 3-4 liters of urine! But that was only at about 2 pm in the day. BGR had to wait in the hospital all the time. As there was very limited availability of telephone services in those days, he could not inform the branch. He thought that he would explain the situation to the manager on the next day.
BGR was at the office early on the next day. The manager did not even have the courtesy to ask what happened to him on the previous day. BGR was straightaway served with a memo calling for an explanation for his absence and why it should not be treated as one without leave and hence on loss of pay! That was the type of attitude of the then manager and the next person in the office one Seshadri, a special assistant!
Recognition from STC
K K Shenoy, the Principal at the Staff Training College (STC), had been very much impressed by the performance of BGR during the training programme. One day BGR was told by his manager M K Shenoy that he had been asked to be at the STC at 1.30 pm. BGR reported at the STC in time. On seeing him alone K K Shenoy asked him where his manager was. It turned out that he had invited M K Shenoy to come along with BGR to address the trainees. Nevertheless he introduced BGR to the trainees stating that he had performed extremely well in the earlier batch. BGR was also asked to address the trainees.
The trainees were all graduates (13 boys and 13 girls) and it was the first time in his life that BGR was addressing a group. He was totally unprepared for the occasion. Shenoy had simply pushed him into the ring! But he rose to the occasion and addressed the batch for about 10 minutes. The speech was well received by the trainees. The opportunity gave him lot of confidence and self-belief. He never looked back. He later came to know that his manager M K Shenoy was poor in vocabulary and that was the reason for him to avoid visiting STC! However, K K Shenoy was very much impressed with BGR’s performance. He continued to invite him to address the trainees for the next six batches.
The Pandyan Challenge!
In the year 1963 the Pandyan Bank Ltd was merged with Canara Bank Ltd. BGR was posted to the Sultan Pet Bangalore branch of the bank for implementing Canara Bank’s procedures and systems. The branch was located in a dungeon like building with hardly any natural light and was full of dust. The branch had very little business with hardly any all round progress. The only major business appeared to be sending of 3-4 telegraphic transfers to Sivakasi branch daily followed by confirmation advices in the evening!
------- (To be continued)
A V Krishnamurthy
2nd May 2012