Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Oh Kolkata! -Episode No.20

"Travelers, we are fabric of the road we go;
We settle, but like feathers on times flow".
                                                            -Cecil Day Lewis

So that was it. It was time for me to move again. This time it was to our own Bangalore. ‘My days’ in Kolkata during the last two years (1985-1987) really moved very fast. The comfortable working atmosphere created by the Nayak-Guinn team at the branch enabled me to devote some time for our social life. We could visit all the important locations in Kolkata including Belur Math, Dakshineswar Kali Temple, Victoria Memorial, Alipore Zoo and others. The Kolkata Metro was launched during our stay in Kolkata. We had the opportunity to travel on the Metro immediately after the launch. We also went on a visit to Darjeeling, Puri and Bhubaneswar in Orissa.

Nayak was also responsible for the frequent meeting of our families at different places (our residences) by rotation. There were a number of Kannadigas living in our south Kolkata and we could come into contact with them through the Mysore Association. Most of the families belonged to bank officers who would stay in Kolkata only for two-three years. The early Kannadigas in the city were responsible for establishing and running the association successfully. We could develop a circle of close friends.

The association had a chance to arrange for a meeting of the members with the well known Kannada novelist Prof. S L Bhyrappa. He had come on a private visit to the city along with his wife Mrs. Saraswathi. All of us were impressed by the simplicity of the famous couple. A strange thing happened during the meeting. The person, who officially welcomed the couple, started highlighting the support extended by Bhyrappa’s wife in his literary accomplishments. It appeared to be a clue to all the persons who spoke later. All of them spoke only about the role of a wife in her husband’s accomplishments in general and about the role of Bhyrappa’s wife in particular. In the process, Bhyrappa’s achievements were relegated to the background with his wife’s role highlighted to the skies! It actually turned out to be a Saraswathi Abhinandana programme! As Bhyrappa kept his face expressionless, we could not make out how he felt about the proceedings!

The CMD of our bank Shri Ratnakar visited Kolkata in the year 1985. He visited our branch also. We could make out that Nayak had a close rapport with the CMD.  On the occasion the CMD was kind enough to consider a special request of the officers working in Kolkata. He permitted the supply of UPS to all the quarters of the bank officers considering the load-shedding situation in Kolkata.

As per the rules of our bank, the Managers were eligible for transfer back to their home-state after serving for three years in the North including West Bengal. We were quite comfortably well settled in Kolkata after the turbulent first year. The standard of teaching in the Kolkata-schools was also very high. As such, I was in a dilemma regarding asking for a transfer to Karnataka. However, I was asked by the bank to inform them officially about my decision. Eventually, I asked for a transfer to Bangalore.

However, I was informed by the bank that it would not be possible to accommodate me in Bangalore. By some strange coincidence, Mr. P A Pai, the DGM, was also transferred to the Bangalore Circle Office at the same time. One day Nayak took me to the DGM. He started highlighting my performance and efficiency. DGM heard him in full and asked him to tell him what exactly he wanted from him. Nayak requested him to ensure that I got a deserving posting in Bangalore. DGM asked me to have patience and to wait till he took charge at the Bangalore Circle Office.

Immediately after Mr. Pai took charge in Bangalore, Nayak got a phone asking him whether I was interested in taking charge at the Corporate Cell, attached to our Cantonment branch. Nayak was also told that there were a number of irregular corporate accounts and things were in a total mess needing special attention. Nayak told me that it was a challenging assignment for me and he expected me to accept. He was sure that I would be able to bring the things to order. Accordingly I gave my consent. Within a week, I received the official orders of my transfer.

I had identified Shankar Babu as a capable officer to handle Credit department. His performance was excellent at the Canning Street branch. However he got a transfer to a small branch in Bangalore having negligible advances portfolio. Nayak took an assurance from me to get a proper posting to him after my reporting at Bangalore. Accordingly, I managed to get him transferred to Cantonment branch by requesting the DGM personally. Babu worked with me for three years in the branch. The bank recognised his expertise in handling credit. Except for a compulsory rural posting for two years, he has been continuously posted in corporate credit department in Head Office and Circle Offices. Currently he is a Divisional Manager at the Corporate Credit Section in Head Office, Bangalore.

My days in Bangalore, as Manager of corporate credit Cell, turned out to be really very challenging. I definitely felt the absence of mentors like Nayak & Guinn. But that is another story. Perhaps I may not be able to write it in first person.

After my leaving Kolkata, Nayak was posted as Divisional Manager of DO, Kolkata. Subsequently he was promoted as AGM and posted to Regional Office, Delhi. He got an award as the Best AGM in the bank while working there. He retired as the DGM of Circle Office in Mumbai. As far as I know, a one-room flat at Borivli in Mumbai was all that Nayak could build as tangible asset in his over 40 years of service in Canara Bank. But the quantum of intangible asset he built as goodwill in the hearts of people who were fortunate to work with him was simply awesome. It could be the envy of a giant multinational!

As I conclude this memoir recollecting my association with Nayak, I am reminded of a currently famous jingle of a telecom company:

“Little things you do for me and nobody else makes me feel good!
That’s why………
A V Krishnamurthy


psvasan said...

I feel you have done a great service to persons like Nayak and Quinn by narrating several instances highlighting the efficient way they handled the situations and also the friendly and humane side of their personality. Overall, it was good reading.

AVK Murthy said...

Thank you Sir.

ashwini said...

Sir,The kolkota memoir has all the ingredients of a blockbuster. There are heros,challenges,action,suspense,comedy and finally a fantastic and heartwarming ending... :-)

AVK Murthy said...

Thank you, Ashu.