To those of you who draw out drafts like there’s no tomorrow and sign cheques like you’re peeling potatoes…this may seem too pooh pooh. But hey for me this is a big deal! For the first time in my life I went and opened a bank account by myself!
My office shifted their bank so we were also asked to open our account in the same bank as theirs to facilitate quick salary transfers. So Canara Bank it was. The account opening form landed on my table by default. From then on every morning our accountant kept asking me if I had opened my account yet. Her smile graph moved from polite to irate – as I kept saying no. I thought before I get clobbered by her I MUST open the account.
So, one fine morning, I did. I landed at the neighbourhood Canara Bank where incidentally my FIL has been an account holder for several years now. I arrived before opening time and waited nervously to be let into the premises. At exactly 9 am the shutters opened noisily and I walked into its cool airconditioned confines. The first look came as a bit of a surprise. It felt like I had walked into a government office – even the smell in there was so government like – if you know what I mean. After years of walking in and out of ICICI, Citibank and Axis variety of banks with rows and rows of matchbox like cabins – this was indeed a novelty. I settled into one of black metallic chairs to wait for the manager to arrive. Just then the cleaning lady in a glimmering blue sari swished by and angrily placed a dustbin next to my chair with a loud thud.
“What Muniamma – had a fight with your husband?” teased one of the staff. And Muniamma glared at him.
The staff were interesting too. None of those uniformed oh-too-busy-for-you type executives strutting around looking – of course- busy. This place was filled with happy, ungracefully ageing uncles and aunties. The uncles rubbing their pot bellies and flirting with this maid with an attitude. The aunties with well oiled and neatly braided hair pinning on a string of jasmine flowers into their hair. Just then a man walked in wearing worn out sandals, an equally worn out brown trouser and a red checked shirt. His face was covered with a helmet. Everyone called out “good morning sir” and man in helmet waved graciously like the pope waving to his audience. He walked around the office still wearing his egg like helmet talking to all the staff – drinking water (how!!!) and what not. Finally he removed his helmet. It revealed a man with obviously dyed hair and (yikes!) mustache. He raised his eyebrows at me and I reciprocated the gesture. “Waiting for the manager”. I finally muttered when the eyebrows refused to come down.
He nodded sadly at that and then to my horror walked into the cabin marked ‘manager’. I watched discreetly as he switched on his PC and cleaned up his desk. Then suddenly he raised his hand and called me in “Commu Madammu.”
Madam me walked in and nervously handed over the forms I had filled in my messy handwriting. My FIL had signed a recommendation for me and his eyes lit up at that. “He is my father in law” I said and his whole demeanor towards me changed. He smiled at me and did not look sad any more that I wanted to open an account in his bank. Whew.
“You have proof of addressu?” he queried in his sing song way
I quickly fished out a copy of my passport.
He analysed that for two minutes while I watched the hands of the clock and suddenly he said “You have originallu?”
“Original Passport?” I reconfirmed and he nodded vigorously.
“No” I said looking miserable.
His smile faded a bit. But then it came back on “Ok no problemmu.” He said tapping my FIL’s name.
“You have photographuu?” he sang
I sprang my pics at him. He looked at it and then at me as if to reconfirm that we were one and the same. “Not wearing glassessu in the picturu?” he sang again.
I self consciously removed my glasses and smiled up at him. He verified again. The pic. Then me. Ah we were the same. He was happy. The smile came back on.
“You have to signuu at the backuu.” He said returning my pics.
I signed and all was well for a while as he clipped and stapled and did things with the papers.
“You areuu depositinguuu anythinguu nowuuu?” I felt like joining him and singing la la la lu lu lu
“Yes – a cheque for…” I started to dig out my cheque.
“Oh Chequuuu?” he was sad again. I stared at him bewildered.
“Firstu deposittu mustuu always be cashuuuu.” He sang sadly.
“Oh ok. Will Rs. 500 be ok?” I said trying to remember how much cash I had in hand.
The smile was back. Eyebrows shot up in appreciation. “Okayuuu. You filluuu this challannu.” He said and handed a yellow piece of paper with flourish.
I filled it diligently and handed it back to him with my Rs. 500.
He looked at it and nodded approval. “You can filluuu a challannu for your chequuu also. I will deposittuu once your accountuuu is openeduuu.” He chirped. (la la la lu lu lu)
So I did as advised. We raised eyebrows and smiled at each other once again.
“Ok. You commmuu tommorowuuu to collect passbookkuuu.” He tweeted. (la la la lu lu lu)
I said ok, thanked him profusely and left the premises – a very proud woman.
Ha! Been there. Done thatttuu.