Shimoga Main branch had the responsibility to depute an Accountant to work as manager in the various branches in the district in the leave vacancy of managers. These branches were generally provided with only one or two clerks. BGR had no opportunity to work in a rural place in his banking career. As if to give him this opportunity, he was once deputed to work in a rural branch called Jade in the Sorab taluk. Jade was a remote village located 8 miles from Sorab and surrounded by two other districts of Dharwar and Uttara Kannada.
The village had a meager population and was covered by deep forests. The daily newspaper and Tappal would reach the village only by 6 pm in the evening. There was only one clerk at the branch. For cash remittance purpose, BGR had to take the clerk with him to Sorab at 9.30 am on a two-wheeler. He could come back only by 11 am. Before leaving the branch he had to ask the sweeper to keep the hot water ready for a bath immediately on return. The first three-mile journey from the branch was through a dusty mud road and the riders would be fully covered with dust by the time they got back. The branch could be opened for work only by after taking a hot-water bath. But the real problem was that of food. A small hotel would serve a ‘special’ meal for the manager. But the quality was such that one could push it down the throat only through some effort. As for taste, the less said was better. BGR just managed to survive and got back to Shimoga.
Gajanan Shanbhag (GS) – The Ideal Husband!
GS was initially working at our S M Circle branch and was later transferred to our branch. A soft-spoken man from Sirsi in Uttara Kannada, GS was known for his neatness and accuracy in work. He was very systematic in his approach to all issues. He was highly dependable and would invariably keep up his commitments. He was also an outspoken person who would call a spade a spade.
While most of the bachelors including me were staying in rooms with paying guest accommodation, GS was made of a different stuff. He had taken on rent a small house in Durgigudi area. He was sharing the house with another colleague and cooking his own food. He had been inviting us (KNV and me – both bachelors) to his house.
Even after completing nearly five years in the bank I had never thought about setting up my own house. In fact I never had the faintest idea as to what were the requisites of a new home set up. I had thought that the things would take their own course after my marriage. But my first visit to the house of GS was quite a revelation. Here was GS with a home fully equipped to welcome his ‘housewife’! He even had a gas connection of his own in addition to all the requisite furniture and other paraphernalia. What was more – most of the furniture were custom-made to his designs! He even served food to us prepared personally by him. We were simply speechless!
GS later designed and got me a bookrack through his furniture maker. While I expressed my great appreciation of his ‘homely’ skills, I made an on the spot decision. That was – not to take my wife to his house after my marriage! I was sure she would scold me for not even making ready even 1% of what GS had kept ready for his would be life-partner!
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One of the most important personal decisions taken by BGR was obviously to become a member of the Housing Society of the bank in 1968. The society acquired the land in Jayanagar in 1970 and formed a layout in 1976. There were nearly 40 sites with most of them being 30’x40’ size. As BGR was a senior member, he was given a chance to select a site of his choice. He selected a site of maximum size – 2720 square feet. He was allotted the same site and was asked to register the site in his name by 30 June 1976.
With two charge sheets hanging over his head, BGR was not in a mood to even visit Bangalore. On 30.06.1976 he got a call from his two close friends and office bearers of the union. Narayana Bhat (NB) and Upendra Shenoy (US) wanted to know why BGR had not got the site registered. BGR told them his mental state at that time and expressed his unwillingness to proceed to Bangalore. But US insisted that he should be in Bangalore on 02.07.1976. At his insistence BGR left for Bangalore. But he told his wife (Arundhathi) that he had no intention of registering the site. That was the type of his mental state at that time.
Things moved fast in Bangalore. NB and US asked BGR to simply get the site registered in his name by availing the loan already sanctioned for the purpose. NB took him to the housing loan department where Dheerendra, another ex-colleague of BGR, did all the necessary amendments in the sanction letter. Thereafter NB took BGR to Devajeevanahalli branch to avail the loan. After signing the loan papers the loan was disbursed. BGR was then taken to the Sub-Registrar’s office in Jayanagar IV Block where the site was duly registered in his name. The whole process was completed on a single day! The best site in the colony now belonged to BGR! NB then told BGR that he was now free to go wherever he wanted! There could not have been a better example of true friendship and that was it!
Another close friend of BGR and office bearer of the union, A C Nayak, had already started construction of his house in the opposite site of BGR. He had entrusted the construction to a reputed civil contractor called Sampathkumar. Even though his rates were slightly higher, he had built a reputation for the quality of work, integrity and uprightness. BGR along with his wife later met him and gave the work order to him after being fully satisfied and after selecting a suitable plan. The Guddali Pooja was held on 1st November 1976 and Sampathkumar started the work immediately thereafter.
Meanwhile CNN had been transferred and B Gopinatha Rao had taken charge of the branch in Shimoga. BGR had already completed six years of service in Shimoga Main branch and the construction of his house was in progress in Bangalore. He requested Upendra Shenoy to get him a transfer to Bangalore. In the general transfer during May 1977, BGR was posted to the newly formed Government Accounts Section at the Head Office. BGR’s eventful six-year service in Shimoga had come to an end!
While BGR’s career suffered on account of the two charge sheets framed by the management, he had the satisfaction of mentoring a whole bunch of young men at the Shimoga Main branch. This bunch soon dispersed to different branches of the bank across the country on promotion. What BGR had offered them was a complete ‘mentorship package’. So much so I remember he even booked my railway tickets to Mumbai on my transfer on promotion, made arrangements for my temporary stay through his brother and saw me off at the Shimoga Railway Station!
------- (To be continued)
A V Krishnamurthy
7th August 2012