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

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