Monday, July 30, 2012

Looking Back - Episode – 22

T Pattabhiram Pai (Pattabhi) and K S Prabhakar Hegde (KSP)
Both Pattabhi and KSP could be the role models for those who want to come up in their life through sheer hard work, dedication and sincerity. Both of them had joined Pangal Nayak Bank (PNB) in the sub-staff cadre. They completed their SSLC and picked up the nuances of working in the bank even as sub-staff. The amalgamation of PNB with Canara Bank opened opportunities for them. The PNB branch in Shimoga became the S M Circle branch of Canara Bank. Both of them passed in the promotion test at the first available opportunity and were posted as clerks to our branch.
Actually the two were the only two non-graduate clerks in our branch. But this did not deter them from putting in their best performance. While KSP was a cool personality and would focus only on working systematically, Pattabhi was highly talkative and was excellent in handling outdoor assignments.  One could assign any outdoor activity to him and he would come back after fully accomplishing his task. He was a master in handling cash matters. He could sort out the soiled, issuable and fresh notes perfectly at a great speed. Besides, he had an excellent rapport with the staff State Bank of Mysore (SBM).
In those days we were at the mercy of SBM for new currency notes and for remitting soiled notes. The currency chest was in the exclusive possession of State bank and its subsidiaries. With his excellent rapport Pattabhi was able to clear our stock of soiled notes and secure new (serial) notes. Pattabhi was also a skilled person in handling tough customers.
KSP moved to Bangalore and married an employee working in BEL. He completed a highly satisfactory career in our bank. I am told that one of his sons is working in England at present. Pattabhi built his house in Shimoga. He was promoted as an officer and worked in different branches near Shimoga. Both of his sons are software engineers. He is presently staying with one of his sons in Bangalore.
M Sundar
The story of M Sundar is another live example of how a person could come up in life through sheer hard work, sincerity and dedication.  The name Sundar in Kannada means handsome. Indeed our M Sundar was a handsome personality. He hailed from South Kanara and Tulu was his mother tongue. He joined our bank as a non-matriculate sub-staff. He worked in rural branches like Ripponpet and managed to get a transfer to our branch in order to secure a promotion.
In those days most of the sub-staff in the banks were not inclined to put in hard work. They used to be more interested in evading work and looking for the salary day and the first week of the month for overtime payments. Indeed an officer’s ability to extract work them was one of the traits for performance appraisal! Many of them failed miserably to secure marks under this trait. If only all the sub-staff were like our M Sundar, perhaps one could have secured full marks! I would like to highlight only one particular aspect of his attitude. I was working in term deposits section at that time.
In those days there used to be a number of ledgers and registers for term deposits. Depending on the particular depositor and the rate of interest, one had to take out the relevant ledgers and registers. That was the work of the sub-staff. While all other sub-staff would wait till they were asked to do the work, Sundar himself would keep a watch on the depositors and their requirements. The moment the depositor revealed the period for which he would like to keep the deposit, Sundar would take out the relevant ledger and register and keep them on our table!  It was his way of discharging his duties. Even the depositors used to appreciate his promptness in the matter.
Sundar completed his matriculation and secured his promotion as clerk by passing in the relevant test. When last heard, he was working as an officer in one of our branches in Udupi. I am also told that his sons are well employed and settled down in their careers.
Surendra Bhat (SB)
As new recruits in the banking industry, we were perhaps too serious in our official duties. We used to focus on learning work and we were not even aware that there was a method of working in a relaxed manner. Indeed the arrival of Surendra Bhat (SB) in our branch made us change our attitude.  He made us realise that it is possible to work in the bank without taking the things too seriously! If only all the officers were to follow the footsteps of SB, perhaps, none of the bank officers would have had to gulp the BP tablets later in their career!
SB came to our branch on promotion as an officer. We used to make an assessment of new officers regarding their knowledge and capability to handle difficult situations. As a newly promoted officer, posted to a new branch, we expected SB to face some difficulties in his initial days. But Oh! No! To our surprise we found SB least bothered about the nuances of his official work. He followed a simple methodology. He would merely put his signature and initials wherever required as per bank’s procedures! He had absolute faith in whatever work done by his juniors! In fact he could not understand why any of the persons working under him would commit mistakes!
SB never bothered about the procedures and systems in our bank. For him learning new things or keeping updated on the latest developments in the bank was a strict No! No! But he was quite updated about one aspect of his bank job. That was about the submission of perfect TA bills!
After a few days of his arrival, SB was identified for deputation to different branches in Shimoga district in the leave vacancy of managers. We all thought it may be difficult for SB to act as a manager in the deputed branches. But SB was fully confident. He told us that he followed the same methodology of signing and initialing as he was doing in our branch. Believe it or not! SB never had any difficulty in any of the branches even though he was quite unfamiliar with the working in rural branches.
Immediately after returning from the deputed branch, SB would prepare his TA bill and submit it to the Divisional Office (DO). He would prepare the bill so perfectly that the DO would have no occasion to disallow any of his claims! In fact when I was posted to the inspection department in Mumbai, I sought his guidance to prepare my TA bills for shifting to Mumbai. He guided me extensively in the matter.  He also explained to me the nuances of preparing the monthly TA bills as an inspecting officer. Hats off to him and his tips! During my seven-year career in the inspection department, there was not even a single occasion when any of my claims in my TA bills were disallowed by the Head Office!
The Story of Karela Bonda!
Another area in which SB excelled was in the ‘food’ department! While most of us used to think about the work on hand in the opening hours of the bank, SB would focus on the items he would order with the hotel boy during the tea time! He would spend a few minutes with the boy to know about the special items available on that day! Only thereafter he would get back to the routine work in the bank. His philosophy was – eat well, enjoy and take it easy on the work front!
Even though SB used to order special items from the hotel daily, it was not that his better-half was denying good food to him at home. In fact SB would carry a huge Tiffin carrier to the office. His beloved wife would pack several tasty items in his lunch box. During the lunch time he would unpack them in front of us carefully. He would share the special item of the day with us ungrudgingly. In fact I developed a craze for one particular item prepared by his beloved. It was the bonda made out of bitter gourd (called karela in Hindi and hagala kaayi in Kannada)! Oh! How tasty the item used to be? So much so, immediately after setting up my family in Mumbai, I told my beloved wife about my craze for the karela bonda! Fortunately for me, within a short time she picked up the art of preparing this delicacy. In fact she received laurels for her skills in preparing the item. Hats off to SB and the karela bonda! I remain indebted to him wherever he is now!
------- (To be continued)
A V Krishnamurthy
30th July 2012


Narain said...

The skills and abilities of the sub-staff are really amazing! They are role-models for youngsters to emulate!! Sundar's character is charming! His foibles make him lovable. Next time I visit your home, I would like to have Karela Bonda!!!

A V Krishnamurthy said...

Thanks NN. Your karela bonda is guaranteed!