Time Travel is possible!

I am not kidding! Yes, I did it last week. Here is how it all happened:
We have a locker facility in my wife’s name with the Corporation Bank. We needed to include my name also in the records. The Bank explained the entire procedure, which looked simple enough on the face of it. The procedure is that we take a printed form of the contract from the corporation bank, get it Franked for Rs 100/ and then submit the same to the Bank along with a photo id and a letter requesting them to include my name for operating the locker. We took the forms and proceeded to a designated Cooperative Bank to get it franked. I was told that only State Cooperative banks are authorized to do franking for this particular transaction. As it turned out, this was the most frustrating part of the entire procedure. Here is a brief account of the same:

There are about 4 Cooperative Banks in Mulund, a suburb in Mumbai where we live. I approached one bank and was about to enter the premises. I was a bit baffled to see a peon standing at the gate and excitedly telling people to buzz off, the moment they mentioned ‘franking’. He kept repeating to everyone : idhar Balance khatam ho gaya. Jao, Jao. I kept wondering what balance he is talking about. Later on it occurred to me that he might be referring to the allotted quota of Franking for the day as the balance. In any case I lost my mental balance when I heard the same story being repeated in the other 2 banks as well. Several frustrated customers left the place rather reluctantly grumbling about the sad state of affairs. I could understand their disappointment considering the fact that Saturday is a precious day for many for attending to personal jobs such as these. I tried to ease the situation with a wisecrack(?) on the definition of a Cooperative Bank. I told one of the waiting customers: A Cooperative Bank is a place where all the employees of the bank cooperate successfully to frustrate customers! The guy, however, was not amused as he grinned and walked away! I suppose my joke was rather ill-timed and inappropriate for a guy who was already having a bad time!

Exasperated but determined to complete the job on the same day, I went to the last of the four Cooperative Banks in Mulund with a firm resolve. I entered a ground floor flat of a dilapidated building in a narrow lane full of filth and stink. The place was overcrowded and there was no place even to stand as all counters seemed to be busy. It took me a while to reach the right counter dealing with franking of documents. There were 2 ladies at the counter chatting away nonchalantly quite oblivious to the presence of so many waiting customers. I asked one of them whether I could get my document franked. Pat came the reply: Ribbon katham ho gaya. parson ajao(Franking ribbon is exhausted come after 2 days). I said: Madam, why don’t you buy one or let me buy it for you. She explained: ‘We have to follow a due procedure, which is to fill in a request form for the Stores department to act upon. They will procure after a day. I cannot help you’. I pleaded desperately saying it’s a critical job that had to be done on the same day. The lady, finally condescended to consider my case. She mumbled something to another lady at the cash section and asked me to submit forms. Feeling triumphant, I proceeded to the cash counter to make the payment. She directed me to another counter to pick up a pay-in slip. I looked around for the forms but didn’t find any. Now, the word went around the bank saying: Pay-in slips katham ho gaye(there are no pay-in slips). I suspect that there was a hint of sadism in the manner in which they announced it. I complained to the Manager. He came out of his room like a head master and reprimanded a few clerks. Finally one of them acted rather reluctantly and somehow excavated a pay-in slip from a huge heap of papers. That done, I proceeded to pay the fees and waited for my turn patiently. Many among the customers complained they were waiting for over an hour to collect cash. I realized that unless I took personal initiative my work would not get attended. So I approached the lady who was supposed to do the franking. She sounded quite frustrated as she complained: “Aap ko malum hai, yeh kaam se hamare liye kuch faida nahein- We don’t stand to gain a paisa by this job of franking. It is thrust on us by the State Government for the sake of extra revenue. The government gets 15% of the franking fees. We get nothing for this service”. I nodded in agreement and said: “I do sympathize with you guys. Govt is after all unreasonable. They can afford to dictate and get away with it”. Believe me, that was the magical moment. The moment she saw she had a sympathizer, she did not waste a minute more to complete my job. She got my document franked and Bingo, I made it despite heavy odds. Just as I completed my job, I got a call from my wife inquiring about the work. I rushed out of the Bank and felt as though I traveled back in time to the 1960s and returned successfully to 2013?

A day later, I looked back at the event and felt nostalgic as I recalled a similar experience with Mumbai University about 5 years back. In case you need further proof of Time Travel, you may read that post in the link above.

Frankly, I think India can attract a lot of tourists if only we promote places such as Cooperative Banks & Mumbai University as “Time Travel Tourism”! I’m sure there will be several competing places for promotion.

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Published in: on October 26, 2013 at 4:00 pm  Leave a Comment  
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