Saturday, June 30, 2012

Looking Back - Episode –17

Before continuing with some more personalities of the branch I would like to cover some of the important and interesting clients of our branch in those days. I am not sure whether those clients are existent even today and are still the clients of our bank. But my account should fairly cover the type of customers and their business of those days (early seventies).
The VIP Customer (Mr. X)!
In those days very few persons in Shimoga used to wear full suit. It was restricted mostly to lecturers in Sahyadri College, some government top officials and some teachers in High Schools. But there was one senior gentleman (Mr. X) in the city who would be invariably in full suit. This gentleman was a nightmare to the banking community! It seems he had carried some vendetta from his previous birth against bankers!
He would walk into any bank of his choice on the given day. He would go to some counter and start firing without looking at any particular employee for some unknown fault! He would speak in perfect English and shout at the top of his voice! It was a total solo performance! The other customers in the counter would be shocked to witness the show. The show would last for 5-10 minutes! He would simply walk out after the show! None of us knew who this gentleman was. We were so accustomed to his special performance that we would watch the show silently. But our NRG Prasad was not the person to keep quiet! The moment he saw this gentleman entering, he would call anyone of us in his loud voice and announce that ‘your father-in-law has arrived’! It used to be a difficult job for us to hold back our laughter till the gentleman left the branch!
Srinivasa Hall & Blue Bird Dry Cleaners - the First Day Accounts!
Srinivasa Hall was a textile shop in Gandhi Bazaar (Doddapet) that had a current account with our branch. The firm was in the habit of issuing cheques without maintaining the funds in the account. A number of cheques would be presented in clearing. The party would ask us to honour certain cheques only by remitting cash to cover them. All other cheques would bounce. At a particular stage we had to stop issuing chequebooks to the party. Blue Bird Dry Cleaners was another such party. There were some more similar parties. These parties had big shops but lacked financial discipline. They had become undesirable customers to most of the banks.
A number of banks opened their first branch in Shimoga in the seventies after bank nationalization. The managers of these banks would visit the big shops to get their current accounts. The parties cited by me above would jump at the opportunity and open their accounts on the inaugural day itself and collect  100 leaves chequebooks. They would go on a cheque issuing spree thereafter! This became a common feature. In fact whenever we met employees of  a new bank branch we would ask them whether these parties have opened their accounts! They would be surprised but the answer used to be ‘yes’ invariably! These  new banks would have a good turnover of dishonoured cheques till the parties exhausted their stock!
Balaji Electricals – The Depleting Bank deposit!
One day a senior gentleman tendered a current account passbook in the name of Balaji Electricals to me for entries. While making entries I observed that the account had a balance of nearly Rs10,000 and had virtually no operations. The bank was debiting half-yearly incidental charges to the account as per rules and hence the balance was getting depleted slowly. After I handed over the passbook back, the gentleman told me that he needed some clarification. His question was simple. He wanted to know how the balance in his account was coming down after the credit of half-yearly interest! Initially I could not make out what he was telling. But soon I could make out that he was expecting credit of interest for the balance held in his account.
The amount of Rs10,000 was a quite huge in those day standards. He could have purchased ten 30X40 sites in Shimoga! It seems he was particular about keeping the money in the name of the firm. But the bank rules did not allow the opening of a savings account in the name of a firm. By keeping the amount in a current account earning no interest, he was losing the money itself! I explained the matter to him and advised him to keep the money in his personal account in SB that would fetch him interest. He said he would get back. But he never came back.
About six months later, a young man came to the bank with the same passbook. He told me that it was his father’s account and he wanted to close the account and get back the money. I asked him to send his father. But he told me that his father was absconding since last four months! When this case was referred to legal advisor, we were told that a missing complaint was to be filed with the police by the family. The legal heirs could claim the amount only after seven years after such complaint if the man did not come back! The family was helpless. They had to watch the bank balance depleting while the head of the family was absconding!
Vasu Traders – The Tractor Loan (Gift?) Account!
Our bank was the first bank in Shimoga to sanction a tractor loan. The tractor was handed over to a party called Vasu Traders at a function by our Deputy General Manager Shri B V Bhandary. The function was a great event in Shimoga. The photograph was prominently displayed in our branch premises also.
Everything appeared hanky-dory initially. But there was only one problem. It appears that the party got an impression that the tractor was a free gift, as the same had been handed over to him in a function! Forget about the loan repayment, the party did not even show his face at our branch after the function. However, the tractor was fully engaged!
As all efforts to recover the loan failed, the tractor was seized nearly three years later. The party was least perturbed as he had made good money already. Before auctioning the same, the branch was asked to get a valuation certificate from a certified valuer. The valuer estimated the value at Rs5,000 against the original price of Rs27,000 stating that it was not in a good running condition! The divisional office of the bank was not convinced of this low valuation. It asked the branch to advise the valuer to give a fresh valuation assuming that the bank would spend some money to bring it to the working condition.
The valuer gave a fresh valuation as below:
“The value of the tractor in the present condition is estimated atRs5,000. If however, an amount of Rs2,000 is spent on overhauling the vehicle, it can be valued at Rs7,000 (Rs seven thousand)!”
A simple arithmetic indeed! The valuer had attached an additional bill of Rs250 for the fresh valuation!
------- (To be continued)
A V Krishnamurthy
30th June 2012

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Looking Back - Episode – 16

HGS was another jolly, simple and friendly person who was in the Ginger group of Katti and ARM. He used to dress fashionably and was known for his large bell-bottom pants. He hailed from the Sagar town. By a strange coincidence, he was also my colleague in my last branch at Jayalakshmipuram, Mysore.
HGS was once entrusted with the work of writing registered notices to the loan defaulters. There was no system of checking the accuracy of such notices. The notices were routinely signed by the Accountant and dispatched to the borrowers. In those days there were only a small number of advocates in Shimoga. Hence it was sufficient to write their names and the profession in the letters addressed to them.
A week after the dispatch of notices, our branch received a registered lawyer’s notice from an advocate called Rudrappa. The notice stated that Mr. Rudrappa had no occasion to even come near our branch so far – but a notice had been served on him to repay the overdue loan! Mr. Rudrappa wanted the bank to apologise to him. He had also threatened to file a defamation case against the bank for spoiling his reputation by calling him a loan defaulter!
A verification of the tappal register revealed that a notice had indeed been sent to Rudrappa.  A scrutiny of loan register revealed that there was no such borrower. The mystery was solved when we found a defaulting borrower with the name Purdappa who was also an advocate. Obviously HGS had written the name as Rudrappa instead of Purdappa. When asked, HGS told the Accountant that he thought Purdappa could not be the name of a person! Hence he had corrected the name as Rudrappa! It was a tough job to convince the mistake to Rudrappa. With great difficulty, the matter was put to rest amicably.
S Jagdish Nayak (SJN)
SJN had joined the bank in 1969 and was senior to most of us in service. He was a tall, fair and handsome young man. He was very good at work and was basically a very principled man. He was already married when he came to our branch. SJN had developed a habit of living beyond his means. This would land him in problems many a time. He was a chain smoker and would also enjoy drinks when he was in a company. He used to be deputed to outstation branches to fill up the leave vacancies. He would then discount his cheques at those branches, which would then come to our branch for collection. Many a time the balance in the account used to be insufficient to meet the payment of the cheques. SJN had a close friend in our branch called Pattabhi (T Pattabhiram Pai). He was expected to see that the cheque was not dishonoured. Pattabhi never let down his friend even though he had his own commitments and limitations.
There was additional trouble for SJN once. On a particular occasion he had gone to his home town Koppa with his family. The house was kept under lock and key. By the time SJN came back, some burglar had emptied the house. He filed a police complaint. In those days there was a famous burglar called Koli (hen) Rama in Shimoga. He was an expert in stealing hens! But that was only his subsidiary activity!
The police took some extra interest in SJN’s case as he was a bank employee. They arrested Koli Rama and summoned SJN to the police station during his enquiry. The following was the conversation at the station:
Sub-Inspector: Sir, this man is called Koli Rama. He is an expert habitual burglar. We are sure he is the person who has burgled your house.
SJN: Mr. Rama, why did you choose my house? It would have been better if somebody else was your target. You may not be aware. But I am already under financial stress. You have added to my trouble.
Rama: (Appears to be disturbed). Sir, I admit I had burgled some house. But I am not sure whether it was your house! By the bye, your house is located in which street, sir?
SJN: My house is at Old Thirthahalli road.
Rama: I feel relieved now! I can tell you now with confidence that I have not burgled your house.
SJN: How come?
Rama: It does not fall in my command area, sir!
SJN: What do you mean?
Rama: Sir, we have divided Shimoga city equally between four of us! Only Durgigudi and Jayanagar fall under my command area! Even the Sub-Inspector is aware of this arrangement. I don’t know why he wasted your time unnecessarily, sir!
(The above conversation was told to me by SJN himself. He never got back the stolen items)
SJN got his promotion as officer after I left the branch in 1977. He was posted to Connaught Circus branch, Delhi and gained lot of recognition for his excellent work and enthusiasm for taking up challenging assignments. He came back to Karnataka and was posted to N R Pura branch. His living beyond means habit came to the fore here. He developed the habit of discounting cheques of other banks and destroying the instruments before dispatch.
The bank conducted an enquiry and punished him with dismissal from service. He got into many jobs in Bangalore. But nothing worked. He was virtually on streets. Meanwhile the hereditary diabetes disease caught up with him and he died at an early age. SJN’s was a typical case of living beyond means and ending up the life in a tragedy. May his soul rest in peace!
------- (To be continued)
A V Krishnamurthy
26th June 2012

Saturday, June 23, 2012

I Don’t Know, Son! - 50

I Don’t Know, Son! - 50
Life Term after Death!
Son: The President Pratibha Patil who is demitting office shortly appears to be a woman in a hurry, dad.
Father: How come? Go on, son.
Son: She has gone on a clemency drive and commuted the death sentences of as many as 35 convicts to life including those convicted for kidnapping, rape and killing of children, dad.
Father: Interesting. Go on, son.
Son: What is more interesting is that she has even commuted the death sentence of a convict who had died almost five years ago, dad!
Father: I don’t know, son!
Harvinder Singh on a Hat Trick!
Son: Harvinder Singh is said to be looking at a hat trick shortly, dad.
Father: You are mistaken. I think you are talking of Harbhajan Singh, the famous cricketer, son.
Son: No dad. I am talking about Harvinder Singh who is on a slapping spree, dad!
Father: I understand now. Go on, son.
Son: Harvinder has already slapped the former telecom minister Sukhram and Union agriculture minister Sharad Pawar, dad. He is now said to be looking for his third target, dad!
Father: Go on, son.
Son: The Intelligence Bureau has warned that Kapil Sibal might be his next target, dad.
Father: Go on, son.
Son: Harvinder is said to be planning to slap the present telecom and HRD minister in a public function to complete his hat trick, dad!
Father: I don’t know, son!
Does not mind Value-additions!
Son: Harvinder is said to have been asked by the journalists whether his motive to slap the HRD minister has anything to do with his unpopular common test proposal for IITs, dad.
Father: Go on, Son.
Son: He is said to have told them that for him corruption was the main issue, dad.
Father: Go on, son.
Son: But he is also said to have told them that he does not mind value-additions, dad!
Father: I don’t know, son!
Mamata’s Nightmare!
Son: The Calcutta High Court has struck down Mamata Government’s Singur Land Rehabilitation Act, dad.
Father: True. Go on, son.
Son: The court has stated that the state government should have taken prior permission from the President before promulgating the Act, dad.
Father: Go on, son.
Son: Mamata now has a problem on hand even though she has decided to go on appeal to the Supreme Court, dad.
Father: Like what? Go on, son.
Son: The Supreme Court may also ask her to take permission from the President, dad.
Father: Go on, son.
Son: By that time Pranab will be the President of India and his candidature has been rejected by his ‘own Bengali sister’ Mamata, dad!
Father: Go on, son.
Son: Didi is not sure that Pranab does not believe in ‘tit for tat’, principle, dad!
Father: I don’t know, son!
A V Krishnamurthy
23rd June 2012

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Looking Back - Episode –15

If I were to be asked who was the most colourful personality at Shimoga main branch I would vote for the name of NRG Prasad (NRG). But I have already written a special article on him. Hence I am ignoring him in this write up. Those of my readers who have not read my article may read the same in the attachment sent here with.
Mohan P Katti
Katti joined our branch on transfer from Bellary branch. His father was a top official in the Education Department of Karnataka. Katti was a very handsome young man. He would wear smart tea shirts that suited his personality. He was not very serious about his work and would take things lightly.  But he was a jovial, witty and a fun loving guy. Within a short time of his arrival at the branch he developed friendship with all his colleagues. It was a pleasure to talk to him. He formed a mini group with like minded colleagues. The group included A R Madhavan and H G Suresh Rao. This group would become very vocal during the several picnics arranged by the staff club under the guidance of BGR. The group would rewrite several popular Kannada film songs by including the names of their colleagues. They would make fun of all the colleagues by highlighting their special qualities/weaknesses! The picnics used to be highly enjoyable with their ingenious special songs! They would not hesitate to make fun of seniors including BGR. In fact they would address BGR as ‘Udupi Gulla’ (the famous brinjal from Udupi) during the picnic!
Katti had a personality comparable to the talented Kannada film actor Shankar Nag.  He would often say that he could have beaten Shankar Nag  - but for his height. But he had no luck. Katti had a speciality. He would tell certain things to you offhand. But you are not sure whether he was quite serious or was telling it for fun. I had one such experience with him.
I was operating a SB account with the Seshadripuram branch of Syndicate Bank Bangalore when I was studying at the Tata Institute (IISC). I got the same transferred to Shimoga branch after I joined Canara Bank in Shimoga. Later I decided to close the account as I had no reason to operate the same. I went to the branch one day during office hours (with permission) to close the account. I was surprised to find Katti also walking into the branch. He told me that he had come there to get his passbook entries updated.
While coming back to our branch I asked Katti what was the point in maintaining an account with another bank when we were the employees of Canara Bank. He suddenly lowered his voice and told me in a hush-hush tone that he had opened the account with a specific purpose. I was curious and asked him to disclose the same to me. He told me that he had heard that the employees in Syndicate Bank of late had been making some wrong entries in the accounts as many of them were newly recruited. He was also expecting some wrong credits in his account! He wanted to just try his luck! He would periodically get his passbook updated. The idea was to draw the money the moment any wrong credit was found in his account! Katti told me this very seriously. I was left speechless! Till date I do not know whether Katti was joking with me or he really meant it!
A R Madhavan (ARM) and his Long-Term Investment!
ARM was an equally interesting personality. He was one year senior to me at the National High School Shimoga. He joined our bank one week after my joining. He had a very strong physique – but was very soft in his approach. He was also a jovial fun-loving guy. He would make his comments in a very cool manner. But he could convey a lot. He also had the capacity to make witty remarks offhand.
As earlier mentioned by me, the young men brigade at the Shimoga main branch had its general weakness for the fair sex. These men would jump at any opportunity to offer their ‘excellent customer service’ to the fair sex! I must mention here that the excellent service did not mean a quick disposal of the customer! In fact the idea was to delay the service so that the customer’s stay at the branch was extended to the maximum! Naturally the young men did not want the fair sex customers to walk out early. At the same time they wanted to interact with them as much as possible and to ensure that they were impressed by the service.
This sort of attitude of the young brigade was taken as quite normal. Of course all other customers were extended the normal services by this brigade. But this brigade was surprised to find ARM giving some “excellent service” to an ordinary looking senior gentleman  customer! On being asked, ARM told them that he was making a long-term investment! He also told them that he was not interested in short-term investments (affairs) unlike them! The brigade could not make head and tail of what ARM was telling.
ARM later explained to us his motive. He had been told that the senior gentleman had a beautiful daughter at home. While extending his excellent service to the gentleman, ARM was also trying to impress upon him the necessity to send his beautiful daughter to the bank! His advice to him was - to stay at home comfortably  at this old age and train his young daughter to handle his bank accounts!
------- (To be continued)
A V Krishnamurthy
21st June 2012

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Looking Back - Episode –14

The story of BGR is also the story of several young men who began their careers at the Shimoga main branch. These young men charted out on their own careers after leaving the branch on promotion or otherwise. But BGR can take pride in the fact that these men developed their wings under his able guidance in the initial days of their career. It was like the young birds moving out of the comforts of the nest to leave their parents behind! But there was a major difference. Unlike the young birds, these men do remember BGR and keep in touch with him till today! Here I am making an attempt to briefly sketch the characters of some of them from my memory.
K Vittala V Shetty (KVS)
KVS was a very intelligent and mischievous person. He hailed from the district of South Kanara. He would pick up the work fast in any department entrusted to him. He was friendly by nature. But the friendship came at a cost! He would not hesitate to make fun of even his close friends if he got an opportunity. One had to be extremely careful to avoid inviting funny comments from him.
Balakrishna Bhat (BKB)
BKB joined our bank after completing his B.Com degree from Shimoga National College. He was junior to most of us. He had certain special qualities that attracted comments from KVS. Like all other young men, BKB also had a weakness for the fair sex. While the others were able to keep this weakness hidden, BKB was often making it too obvious!
The cashier’s job in the bank used to be boring and risky most of the time. But the Shimoga main branch had a separate cash counter for the SB account holders. The handling of cash here was a simple affair as the amount of individual receipts and payments were small as compared to the business cash counters. The chance of losing cash here was negligible. But what made this counter attractive was the monthly salary payment of the teachers of the Mary Immaculate Convent of Shimoga! The school had young and good-looking lady teachers who would visit the bank only to draw their monthly salaries.
Like all other young cashiers, BKB also enjoyed making payments to the giggling young convent teachers. But one day he was so carried away by the giggling crowd that he messed up the payment of another depositor! Holding two cheques in his hands, he called the token number for one cheque. The depositor gave him the token. BKB made him the payment of the other cheque.   While the token pertained to the payment of Rs1,000, BKB paid him Rs2,000 by mixing up the payments. The person was an employee of the Department of Telephones. He gladly accepted the payment and disappeared within no time! BKB called the number of the other token and paid him Rs1,000. But he refused the payment saying he wanted the full payment of Rs2,000! BKB was perplexed!
The amount of Rs1,000 was quite huge in those day standards. When BKB woke up to the reality, the beneficiary of his blunder had bolted away! It was obvious that the excess payment had been made to the employee of the telephone department. It was a question of locating the employee. Everybody thought that he would willingly pay back the excess amount. However, it was important to tackle the matter intelligently. BGR took an expert called NRG Prasad with him to the telephone office on his Bajaj Vespa. Prasad was a master in handling tough guys. But his skills did not work on this occasion. The employee refused point blank that he had received excess payment of Rs1,000! He had already placed the excess money in a safe place at the cost of BKB!
BKB had to pay back the money to the bank in monthly installments. He used to curse the telephone employee every month on the salary day! But the matter did not end there. The employees of the telephone department had a strong union. They came to our bank one day and demonstrated in front of the office! They alleged that one of their employees was being harassed by our branch staff for none of his fault! They threatened us with dire consequences if the persecution of their innocent colleague continued in future! The demonstrators included the (innocent!) person who was the beneficiary of the generosity of BKB!
Our Shimoga main branch did not have any lady staff other than the typist quite for some time. Needless to say the 100 percent male team composition was not an interesting scenario! But soon the things started changing for the better! A lady employee called Harini was transferred to our branch from Bangalore. Harini’s husband was an employee of the Mysore Paper Mills in Bhadravathi. Harini was allotted the Tappal (dispatch) department on reporting. At that time BKB was working in term deposits section and his table was close to the tappal department table. As Harini was the only lady employee, the male employees were understandably interested in talking to her. But as already mentioned by me, BKB was ahead of others and he made it too obvious!
Harini had already worked in Bangalore branches and was capable of finishing her work on her own. But BKB started expressing extra sympathies to her by assisting her in her normal work. He would finish his work with extraordinary speed and move his chair to the table of madam in the afternoon daily! He would sit in front of her and assist her in writing the addresses, etc. All of us were watching this daily exercise with amusement! Our KVS was also witnessing this daily Tamasha and was waiting for an opportunity to create a scene!
One particular afternoon BKB finished his work in a hurry and pulled his chair to take it to the table of the madam. But to his surprise, the chair simply refused to move! KVS was watching the scene and asked loudly whether BKB needed his assistance to move the chair! All of us turned behind to see what was going on. We could find out the reasons for the chair refusing to move. KVS had tied up the chair to the table of BKB by using a long thread! He had done his job during the lunch hour without bringing it to the notice of BKB!
All of us started laughing loudly much to the embarrassment of BKB and madam Harini. But KVS had done his job! The message had been delivered! BKB stopped assisting Harini madam from that day! Both KVS and BKB completed their CAIIB and were promoted in their first attempt.
------- (To be continued)
A V Krishnamurthy
19th June 2012

Saturday, June 16, 2012

I Don’t Know, Son! - 49

A Stenographer Envoy for North Korea!
Son: A report in Times of India says the Government of India has appointed a stenographer as envoy to North Korea, dad!
Father: Amusing. Go on son.
Son: It is reported that none of the IFS officers were interested in the posting as the iron-curtain country offers little by way of social life, dad.
Father: Go on, son.
Son: When asked to justify the posting of a steno, the foreign ministry spokesman is said to have given away the unofficial version, dad.
Father: Like what? Go on, son.
Son: North Korea is under a dictatorship and a steno is well-versed in taking down the dictation, dad!
Father: Wonderful! Go on, son.
Son: The Government of India expects the envoy to build excellent rapport with the head of the Government through his skills in taking down the dictation, dad!
Father: I don’t know, son!
Bank Robbery – a Losing Proposition!
Son: A Times of India report says that a study of bank robbers in UK has found that they made less money than honest workers, dad!
Father: Interesting. Go on, son.
Son: The report says that the robbers made, on an average, a modest 12,706 pound sterling annually, dad.
Father: Go on, son.
Son: Additionally, the robbers also face the risk of getting caught and jailed, dad.
Father: Go on, son.
Son: The robbers say that the oldest profession is losing charm nowadays, dad! Some of them are even said to be thinking of joining the banks as regular employees, dad!
Father: I don’t know, son!
Kapil Sibal and the Cartoon Mania!
Son: The HR minister Kapil Sibal is nowadays in the news for all wrong reasons, dad.
Father: True. Go on, son.
Son: His over enthusiasm in removing a cartoon in the NCERT text books, has been commented by most of the editorials in the national newspapers, dad.
Father: Go on, son.
Son: Now somebody in Tamil Nadu has found another objectionable cartoon regarding the anti-Hindi agitation in the sixties. As expected, the CM Jayalalithaa has jumped the gun by asking for deletion of the said cartoon from the text books, dad.
Father: Go on, son.
Son: It is reported that some of the politicians, who are known trouble creators, are said to be going through all the school textbooks hoping to find some controversial cartoons, dad!
Father: Interesting. Go on, son.
Son: Considering his earlier stance, it will be no surprise if Kapil Sibal orders for a summary removal of all the cartoons in textbooks in future, dad!
Father: I don’t know, son!
Manmohan Singh and the Mamata Puzzle!
Son: For the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh the Didi from Bengal has been a pain in the neck all these days, dad.
Father: True. Go on, son.
Son:  Several decisions of the government could not be implemented because of the non-cooperation of the spoilsport politician from Bengal, dad.
Father: Go on, son.
Son: But Didi seems to have extended her parting kick by suggesting the name of Manmohan Singh for the Presidential post, dad.
Father: Go on, son.
Son: With this, the wily lady has shot two birds with a single stone, dad!
Father: How come? Go on, Son.
Son: She has suggested that she needs a new PM by suggesting Manmohan’s name for the President’s post, dad.
Father: Go on, son.
Son: Her rejection of Pranab’s name can be taken as a hint that she wants the Dada from Bengal to occupy the PM’s chair, dad!
Father: I don’t know, son!
A V Krishnamurthy
16th June 2012

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Looking Back - Episode –13

One of the best decisions taken by BGR while working in Bangalore was to book a Bajaj Vespa scooter. In those days the Bajaj Vespa scooter was a prized possession of the upper middle class and only very few got the opportunity to own it. BGR had observed that many shrewd businessmen in Basavanagudi used to book the vehicle regularly and make a killing on allotment. The scooter that was allotted at around Rs3,000 used to be sold at nearly Rs9,000-10,000/. But BGR saw no meaning in booking the vehicle as the allotment could be expected only by 8-9 years!
In the year 1968 a new dealership for Bajaj Vespa came up for the first time in the city of Mangalore. BGR’s cousin Mohan Rao advised him to book the vehicle at Mangalore to avail the chances of an early allotment. BGR made a booking by paying Rs250. He was lucky. He got the allotment in 1971 – within four months of joining the Shimoga branch.
I had earlier made a mention that the position of an officer in a nationalized bank fetched him a higher status in the society in those days – particularly in a smaller city like Shimoga. Indeed the status of BGR went a few notches up on his purchase of the coveted Bajaj Vespa scooter. In fact the number of Bajaj Vespa scooters in Shimoga could be counted through fingers and most of them were purchased at a huge premium. (The odd looking Lambretta was the only other alternative!).  It was a privilege to go round the city on the prized possession carrying the better half and the offspring! BGR’s first son Adarsha had arrived by that time.
BGR’s scooter was put to a very good use on two special occasions. He had taken a house on rent at Durgigudi extension owned by an agriculturist called Nanjappa. Nanjappa was also customer of the bank and hailed from a nearby village called Malavagoppa. He had let out one house to BGR (it was a twin house) and the other house was occupied by the school going children of his family under the care of his grandmother. Nanjappa’s sister in the advanced stage of pregnancy was staying there for eventual admission to the maternity home on due date. One particular night at 3.30 am, the grandmother knocked at the doors of BGR telling him that her granddaughter was having labour pains. She sought his help to take her to the maternity home.
Fortunately the pregnant lady was in a position to walk. BGR managed to take her  to the maternity home along with her grandmother. There was no telephone facility in the village and BGR’s residence at that time. BGR drove his scooter all the way to the village in the night and reached the house of Nanjappa. Nanjappa expressed his regrets for the inconvenience caused to BGR. Actually he had arranged for another elderly person to stay at night. But the person was missing on the D-day! The lady delivered a male child safely.
The very next year Nanjappa’s wife was pregnant and she was staying in the other  house. BGR once jocularly told Nanjappa and his father to ensure that both of them stayed in the night in Shimoga till the delivery of the child! But believe it or not! One particular night at 3 am, there was again a knock at the BGR’s doors. It was the same grandmother again! She sought his help to take Nanjappa’s wife to the maternity home! The lady had developed labour pains and quite  surprisingly Nanjappa and his father were missing!
When BGR asked about the whereabouts of the pair, the grandmother told him that they were there on all nights except on this D-day! For BGR it was a repetition of the event. He admitted the lady to the nursing home and rode on his ‘Hamara Bajaj Vespa” scooter all the way to Nanjappa’s residence in the village. This time Nanjappa could not have the face to even express his regrets! The lady delivered a baby boy safely. Nanjappa used to visit Bangalore and call on BGR after he left Shimoga. The BGR couple even attended the marriage of his son who was born after BGR admitted his mother to the nursing home! BGR was transferred to Mumbai on promotion in the year 1980. He then sold his prestigious Bajaj Vespa for Rs6,700, double the price he had paid in 1971!
Even though BGR was having a decent salary as bank officer, he was not of the type who would save money regularly. There were several reasons for him for not developing the savings habit. One of the reasons was – he did not mind helping the needy - financially on merits. Most of such instances were off the record. BGR is proud of one such instance merely because the amount of satisfaction he derived out of his act. The person whom he helped now occupies a prestigious position.
BGR had a distant relative from his wife’s side in Shimoga by name R Gopalkrishna. He used to visit BGR’s house occasionally. He was living in a rented house with a large family of eight brothers and three sisters. While Gopalkrishna was an accountant in Udaya Motors, the other three brothers were running small businesses. Obviously the family was facing acute financial difficulties. One of the younger brothers by name vasudev did his graduation in Shimoga and post-graduation in Mysore surviving on ‘varanna’ and tuitions.
Vasudev had applied for several government jobs. He received a letter from the Labour Bureau of Simla asking him to appear for a test for an UDC post. His family was not enthusiastic as it thought the chances of passing the test was remote, while the expenditure to go to Simla was huge. But Vasudev approached BGR telling him that he was confident of passing the test. Seeing his confidence BGR gave him Rs500. The amount was nearly 40 percent of BGR’s take home salary in those days! Vasudev attended the test and came back telling him that he had done exceedingly well.
One month later Vasudev was called for an interview. BGR gave him Rs500 again. He was successful in the interview and was asked to report for duty immediately! A few years later he attended UPSC examination and was selected as an officer. Later he appeared for an officer’s post in the Airports Authority of India. He was selected under stiff competition. Having worked in cities like Ahmedabad, Coimbatore and Chennai, Vasudev is currently the Director, Airports Authority of India, Mangalore. Under his leadership the Mangalore Airport recently received accreditation from Giant Accreditation Board of Australia and New Zealand.
------- (To be continued)
A V Krishnamurthy
12th June 2012

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

I Don’t Know, Son! - 48

The Pizza Discount Turns Costly!
Son: A report in Times of India says that the Pizza discount scheme turned costly for a customer in Kolkata, dad.
Father: Interesting. Go on, son.
Son: He had ordered four Pizzas for Rs278 and thought that it was under “30 minutes-nahin-to-free” scheme, dad.
Father: Go on, son.
Son: He gave the order at 8.53 pm and the Pizza was delivered at 9.50 pm, dad.
Father: Go on, son.
Son: He started eating the Pizzas happily along with his friend thanking his stars for the delay!  But he was shocked to see the delivery boy insisting for the payment, dad.
Father: Go on, Son.
Son: The boy told him that the scheme was applicable for only orders in excess of Rs350, dad.
Father: Go on, son.
Son: The customer flatly refused payment. The boy left the place; but came back with other delivery boys, dad.
Father: Go on, son.
Son: The boys together gave additional deliveries, dad! But this time the delivery was through blows, dad! 
Father: I don’t know, son!
The Pizza Divorce!
Son: According to Bangalore Mirror, a techie in Pune has filed a divorce petition against his wife due to her unreasonable demands, dad.
Father: Like what? Go on, son.
Son: He says she is forcing him to order Pizzas frequently, dad.
Father: The demand appears quite normal. Go on, son.
Son: Not exactly, dad. She demands Pizzas by waking him up during the midnight, dad!
Father: Interesting. Go on, son.
Son: She asks him to bring her the Pizzas immediately or make it himself for her, dad!
Father: Oh! My God! Go on, son.
Son: The techie says theirs was a love marriage. But now she loves Pizzas more than him, dad!
Father: I don’t know, son!
The Legends and the IPL (The Money Game)!
Son: Tendulkar, the legendary cricketer from Mumbai, has said that one or two problems don’t make the tournament (IPL-5) bad, dad.
Father: True. Go on son.
Son: He remained silent on his under-performance in the tournament, dad.
Father: Go on, son.
Son: It seems he thinks his performance is still better compared to the disastrous performance of another legend from Kolkata called Saurav Ganguly, dad!
Father: True. Go on, son.
Son: Meanwhile, another legend from Karnataka called Rahul Dravid has shown interest in a mentor role in the Rajasthan Team, dad.
Father: True. Go on, son.
Son: It is obvious that all the three legends are not fit for the 20:20 game, but they are still bent upon sticking to it, dad!
Son: While all the three are not admitting the reasons for hanging on to the IPL even though it is meant for young and dynamic players, the two  Sri Lankan senior players have said it, dad.
Father: Go on, son.
Son: Dilshan and Murali have admitted that IPL means good money and they don’t mind playing for the sake, dad!
Father: I don’t know, son!
Pranab Mukherjee and another Retrospective Amendment (Announcement)!
Son: It is no more a secret that Pranab Mukherjee is eager to get out from the burden of being the Finance Minister of the country in the present difficult situation, dad.  
Father: Appears to be true. Go on, son.
Son: He is in fact eager to occupy the Presidential post to relax and forget the mounting economic crisis, dad.  
Father: Go on, son.
Son: But the Congress Party leadership is playing a hide & seek game with him without revealing the name of the person it wants to nominate, dad.
Father: True. Go on, son.
Son: Pranab continues to be on tenterhooks with the party now authorizing Sonia Gandhi to nominate a suitable candidate, dad.
Father: Go on, son.
Son: Unable to hold himself anymore, Pranab is said to have spoken to Sonia directly, dad. He is said to have expressed his strong feelings in the matter for keeping him guessing so long, dad.
Father: Go on, son.
Son: Sonia is said to have assured him that his name is on the top, dad.
Father: Go on, son.
Son: As regards keeping him waiting for so long, she is said to have consoled him by telling him that his candidature will be announced ‘with retrospective effect’, dad!
Father: I don’t know, son!
A V Krishnamurthy
5th June 2012

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Looking Back - Episode – 12

The branch was shifted to a better building owned by D Halappa Sons on the B H Road in the early part of the year 1971. By that time N Gundu Rao had been transferred and C N Nagaraj (CNN) had taken charge. BGR was working with CNN for the second time. The branch had four accountants at that time – the other three being Nagesh Kamath, Dinesh Kamath and P S Kamath. After some time Nagesh Kamath, who was the senior most Accountant, was transferred on promotion as Manager to Sakrepatna branch and BGR became the senior most Accountant. CNN was more of a PRO man and preferred to be outside the branch most of the time. He gave a free hand to BGR to manage the internal work at the branch.
Those were the initial post nationalization days in Canara Bank and the bank was opening a number of branches and making mass recruitments on almost daily basis. The Shimoga district was targeted by the bank for the branch expansion at a rapid pace. In fact, a senior Accountant called Ganesh Kamath was stationed in the branch for the purpose of deputation only.  The bank had two branches in Shimoga and the smaller branch (S M Circle) was originally the branch of Pangal Nayak Bank, taken over by Canara Bank. The main branch had about 25 clerks and most of them were graduates recruited over the past one year. They were young, enthusiastic and ready to learn new things in life. All they needed was an able leader and BGR fitted into the role straightaway.
Till the arrival of BGR these young men were focusing more on idling away the spare time in gossip and visiting the cinema halls in the city on a regular basis. There was no attempt to improve their qualifications or getting exposure to all the departments in the bank. The duty of cashier was attracting special allowance; but not all the clerks were getting the opportunity. Again, the work of preparing various returns (statements), monthly salary bills and handling of advances was the privilege of only a few senior clerks. There was a system of job rotation on a half-yearly basis. But even after a service of 4-5 years one could not gain exposure to all the departments.
BGR suggested that the change of departments may be made on a quarterly basis. That would have given more opportunities to the aspiring young clerks. But there was resistance for such system from the supervisors and other officers including the manager. BGR could convince them all by his vociferous arguments. The writer of this story was one of the beneficiaries who could get exposure to all the departments in the shortest duration. In fact the only department left out was the Tappal (dispatch) section that was earmarked for the newly joined clerks!
BGR could not appreciate the attitude of the youngsters towards the CAIIB examination conducted by the Indian Institute of Bankers. The bank had started giving additional increments and weightage in service to the employees who had completed the Part I and Part II. The passing of Part I would attract one increment and one year weightage while the completion of CAIIB by passing Part II would make one eligible for two increments and a weightage of two years. But there was no attempt by the youngsters to take the exam seriously. The excuse given was – the subjects of accountancy, foreign exchange, etc, were Greek and Latin to the B.Sc graduates. BGR made them change their mindset by giving his own example. According to him, if a matriculate could be successful in CAIIB, what was the problem with a university graduate?
Over a period of time BGR could convince the young men to make a sincere attempt to pass the examination. The results were highly encouraging. The writer of this story was once again the beneficiary being one among the first lot to gain the CAIIB qualification. That fetched him three additional increments and made him the senior-most clerk by overtaking several seniors (in service). This again meant regular supervisory duties fetching a handsome allowance. The CAIIB qualification ultimately helped in getting the promotion early. BGR was instrumental in the early promotion of several clerks in the branch and all of them remain indebted to him forever.
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The branch had three Special Assistants (Supervisors). I have already written about two of them – K G Bhaskar (KGB) and H C Raja Rao (HCR). HCR was a well known trade union leader while KGB was a master in locating differences in balancing books. Unfortunately both of them are no more with us. The third Special Assistant was H Janardhan Kamath (HJK). HJK was another special personality and the story will not be complete without writing about him.
HJK was also a financial expert. But unlike PAP, he restricted his investments to bank fixed deposits (FD) and recurring deposits (RD). He could have been a model to all those who do not know how to save money. One of the weaknesses in inculcating the savings habit is the tendency to break or withdraw the fixed/recurring deposits to meet the supposed urgencies. HJK solved this problem by treating the savings as expenditure!  He would always say that he spent heavily during the month. When asked for the break up he would furnish the amount invested in the RD and FD also as expenses during the month!
This methodology worked quite well for HJK. As he had treated the investments as expenses, there was no question of withdrawing them any time! While the RD account would be converted to a FD on maturity, the matured FDs would be simply renewed on due dates. This went on till HJK purchased a big site in Shimoga and built a house. The beautiful house was immediately let out as quarters to the Sub-Manager of our branch at that time!
HJK had some inferiority complex with the newly recruited young graduates. He was a matriculate and was weak in the English language. Besides, he had a handwriting that could not be read even by the pharmacists who are adept in reading the doctors’ prescriptions! The branch had a fulltime typist. But HJK was avoiding any type of correspondence with the customers to escape from embarrassments!
But HJK was forced to write a letter in English on one occasion. He had taken a LIC policy and wanted to know its surrender value to avail overdraft facility from the bank. He drafted a letter to the Divisional Office of LIC in Udupi. The letter read as follows:
Dear Sir,
My policy number is………. Please let me know ‘my latest surrender value’.
Yours faithfully
All of us went through the letter with the courtesy of the typist and agreed that the letter could not have been drafted better!
After a week, HJK received the reply from the LIC office in Udupi. We were all anxious to know whether the LIC had advised the ‘surrender value of HJK’! But we could not get the opportunity as HJK refused to show it to us. We presumed the reply as follows:
Dear Policy holder,
We are in receipt of your letter. You have asked us to advise ‘your surrender value’! We regret to inform you that we have no means of calculating ‘your surrender value’. Please appreciate our difficulty in the matter.
However, if you meant the surrender value of your policy, the same works out to Rs….
Yours faithfully
Branch Manager
------- (To be continued)
A V Krishnamurthy
2nd June 2012