Monday, October 22, 2012

Looking Back – 38

BGR as a person has always looked for challenges in life. Needless to say the assignment of opening a new branch of a bank is invariably a challenge. It is also a fact that very few persons get such opportunities. At Navlakha Indore BGR had taken the charge of a new branch that had already been opened. Of course he had to set up the new premises there also as the branch had been opened in a make-shift building temporarily. But in Girinagar, Bangalore he had to start from scratch.
Immediately after BGR received his transfer orders to the proposed Girinagar branch in the month of June 1988, he was told by CO/DO to look out for a suitable building. He was also asked to take the help of S R Vasantha Kamath (SRV), the Senior Manager of Hanumanthanagar Branch. BGR contacted him immediately and met him personally. SRV told him that both DO and CO had been trying to fix the premises since over three months. But no headway had been made so far. He also mentioned about an influential person in the area who only could help in the matter. However, according to him it was very difficult to get an appointment and meet him. BGR told SRV that he would somehow get an appointment for next Saturday and requested him to accompany him.
Girinagar was an upcoming and fast developing extension in Bangalore and the full credit went to the influential person (IP) referred to by SRV. BGR started ringing up the gentleman without any further delay. But to get him on the line was no easy job. But BGR didn’t give up. Ultimately he managed to speak to him and got his appointment at 5 PM on the Saturday. Both BGR and SRV were at his house at the exact time. But IP was not at home.  BGR requested SRV to take him to the buildings, which the bank had identified earlier. But even after waiting for over one hour IP did not turn up. In the absence of mobile in those days, communication was a major problem. BGR and SRV had to leave the place disappointed.
But BGR was not the person to give up so easily. He kept trying to contact IP over phone and finally got him online at 9 pm. When BGR expressed his disappointment over missing the appointment, IP told him that he could meet him even at 10 PM. He also told him that he had a building suitable to the bank owned by his friend. Being a man in a hurry, BGR drove his scooter immediately from Jayanagar to Girinagar to be at the residence of IP. This time he was glad to find IP physically at his home! IP took him to the 1,300-square feet house owned and let out by IP’s friend who stayed in HAL 2nd Stage. BGR found the building on the main road much better than the one identified by SRV/CO/DO earlier. IP told him that he could get the house vacated if the bank took a favourable decision.
When BGR asked about meeting the owner, IP offered to take him there right then in his Standard car! It was past 10.30 PM when the two reached the owner’s house in HAL 2nd Stage. In fact the owner was in deep sleep when IP rang up his door bell! The late night negotiations were indeed tough with the owner insisting for a monthly rent of not less than Rs2,500! But the bank had already fixed an upper limit of Rs2,000 per month! After a lot of hard bargaining and persuasion, the owner brought down his expectation to Rs2,200 per month - at 11.30 PM!
BGR was in a fix at this stage. He knew the building was much better than the other buildings identified earlier. He did not want to let go the opportunity and took a calculated risk thinking that he would be able to convince the authorities in CO/DO. He had carried a ‘letter of offer’ of the building by the owner to the bank. He got it signed by the owner on the spot. BGR and IP were back at Girinagar by 12.00 PM. BGR left the place for Jayanagar after thanking IP profusely. So that was it!  BGR had managed to fix a suitable premises for the new branch in one day (night!), which the CO/DO had failed to fix for over three months!
The very next day BGR contacted DO and sought their approval for fixing the rent at Rs200 more than the upper limit. The DO was initially very reluctant to consider. But BGR told them that the building was located in the main road and compared to the previous offers was much better. He also highlighted the fact that the bank could  not finalise a building even after being in search for over three months. Ultimately he was successful in convincing them to recommend the proposal to CO.
BGR contacted IP immediately and requested him to get the house vacated. To his surprise IP managed to handover vacant possession to the bank within three days. DO immediately asked the Premises Section (CO) to visit the building and take up the work of necessary alterations, additions, painting, counter work, sign boards, etc. Things moved fast and the opening ceremony was fixed for 7th July 1988.
Now it came to the next important requirement of securing a telephone connection. BGR was told by CO that they had already booked a connection. But they also told him that there was a long waiting list and the bank had to wait for a minimum of 6 months. They told him to pursue the matter even though they had no hopes.
BGR remembered how he had suffered at Indore for want of a telephone connection. He collected the papers and went to meet the authorities. To his good luck, he found a known person working there. The gentleman told BGR that he would try to help him ‘out of the way’. Believe it or not! The new connection was installed at the building one week prior to the opening of the branch! When BGR rang up CO and DO and gave them the branch telephone number, they found it difficult to believe!
BGR was relieved from Chamrajpet 15 days prior to the inauguration of the branch to enable him to handle preliminary work. Responding to the speed in which BGR started his preliminary work, bank posted A R Madhavan, Accountant, who had worked with him in Shimoga. The bank also posted Nagendra who was working with him in Chamrajpet branch. Another clerk H Ramesh also joined on transfer from Hanumanthanagar branch who was resident of Girinagar. The team chalked out a programme to secure maximum number of new accounts and sizable deposits on the opening day. It was decided to make door-to-door visits in the area. Meanwhile, the civil/carpentry work at the building was going on at a fast phase.
------- (To be continued)
A V Krishnamurthy
22nd October 2012

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