BGR reported at the Tamarind Lane branch in the first week of June 1980. The branch was located in the Fort area of Mumbai at almost equal distance from the VT Station (Central Railways) and Churchgate Station (Western Railways). The branch had been opened to handle corporate accounts and public issues of shares and to lessen the burden on the Fort branch, which is located not far from the branch. The major corporate accounts included L&T Ltd and Maharashtra State Electricity Board (MSEB).
The branch was headed by GA Shenoy as Chief Manager and PDVS Mani as Joint Manager. After the routine introduction to about 60 staff members, BGR was asked to occupy the Sub-Manager’s seat and handle public issues and routine matters connected with advances department. BGR had almost no exposure to corporate advances and public issues till then. Both the areas were quite new to him.
Just as BGR was settling down in his seat, a senior clerk Lalithamurthy came to him with two bank guarantees for his signature. The guarantees were for Rs68 lakh and Rs27 lakh to be issued on behalf of L&T Ltd. BGR had not handled such huge transactions till then. He asked Murthy to give him the credit file of the company and the sanction letter. But he was told that the company’s representative was coming to collect the guarantees within 15 minutes and the understanding was that the guarantees will be handed over within an hour of the request of the company. BGR then consulted the joint manager Mani who told him to sign the papers and go through the sanction and the file later. BGR then signed the guarantees after verifying the limit, liability, amount in the guarantee bond and the protective clause.
BGR visited the Circle Office in the afternoon to collect keys for his quarters and met K R Acharya, the DM. He had been told that the allotted quarters were at Versova. But to his surprise he found Acharya talking about everything else other than quarters! BGR found that fishy. Finally the cat was out of the bag. The quarters earmarked for BGR had been allotted to somebody else. Acharya told BGR that it was done without his knowledge!
All of a sudden BGR found himself in an unenviable position. He knew he could not stay at his brother-in law’s flat indefinitely with his full family. Besides, unless the quarters were allotted the school admission of his sons could not be pursued. To add to his misery, the consignment of his household articles also arrived through lorry in Mumbai on the next day. On the basis of confirmed allotment of quarters, BGR had asked the lorry company to deliver the same immediately on his arrival in Mumbai. The situation appeared to be quite chaotic with BGR at the receiving end!
To cut the long story short, BGR was ultimately allotted a flat at Mahim in Western suburbs after 20 days of his arrival in Mumbai. Once BGR collected the keys and visited the flat he was back to his full spirits! The reasons were many. The Mahim flat was close to the Mahim Railway Station on the Western Railway. The train journey to the Tamarind Lane branch from Mahim was very short by Mumbai standards. The two-room flat was quite spacious overlooking Sea-Rock Hotel in Bandra. It was also close to Shivaji Park in Dadar – a landmark in Mumbai. Suddenly things started falling into place. BGR managed admission of both his sons at the prestigious Saraswat Mandir School in Mahim. The lorry company delivered the household articles at the flat without any demurrage charges for 20 days in a Mumbai godown!
Having settled down in Mumbai with his family, BGR now looked at focusing on his new assignment in the Tamarind Lane branch. The branch was located at Calcot House in the Fort area next to the prestigious Bombay House of Tatas. The legendary J R D Tata, the Chairman of the Tata Group, used to sit in his office in the Bombay House in those days. On the other side of the corner was the prestigious spacious Vimal Showroom of Reliance. The Bombay Stock Exchange, the headquarters of Reserve Bank of India, the Government of India Mint, posh offices of several corporates and banks were all situated in the area. The offices in the Fort area used to open by 10-11 am. The office goers from different parts of Mumbai would pour into the area by that time through the VT and Churchgate Stations. The commercial and financial activities would go on till 6 pm. The reverse traffic via VT and Churchgate would start then. By 8 pm almost all the offices would close down and the area looked deserted.
BGR soon learnt that the internal work position of the branch was not rosy at all. There were balancing differences under current accounts sine more than six months. The public issues department was functioning in an adhoc manner with no regular set up. The corporate accounts were being handled in a haphazard manner with no streamlined pre-sanction and post sanction set up. Yes! BGR definitely had challenging days ahead!
------- (To be continued)
A V Krishnamurthy
3rd September 2012