Through the humid lanes, sweat on my eyebrow and a wish to sit in a swimming pool, I trudged along. It was with some satisfaction that I walked towards the glass doors of the shop - must be a 10 feet by 8 feet room in one of the prime locations of Delhi. the board displayed on the ATM - State Bank of India.
It was about 2 months ago that, the highly regarded SBI and its even more highly regarded officials had blessed me with an account in this institution of India. Here is the story of how I managed this feat...
In its full glory, on the first visit, one official read through all my documents. I was happy that in first visit and after only 30 minutes waiting in the queue was getting me to the stage where the documents are accepted. I was ecstatic. This is unheard of...only few days ago my friend was saying it takes 2-3 visits....what was he saying!
The official after a detailed perusal, turns his head towards me and smiles.... Suddenly a shiver runs through my spine, why smile? That's not correct. He says, "Accept karne waale saahab to 2 din chhutti par hai...aap tab aaiye." Still, I ask, "Par kya documents theek hai? Complete to hai na?" He replied, "Yeh to wohi batayenge". What the hell...arey to haath mein lekar padhne ki acting kar rahe the kya!!! Everything in my mind. I walked out quietly.
I go there 2 days later with my 2 colleagues who also were attempting the same stunt of opening account at SBI. We loiter there for 5 minutes and jump the queue and ask the fellow behind counter, "Aaj account khulega?". Pat comes the reply, "aap ko bataaya na 2 din baad aaiye." I protested , "Yeh to aapne 2 din pehle bataaya tha..."
The guy did not bother to reply just looked incredulously at us...something like how Alexander must have looked at Porus or perhaps more like a dog looking at a lamp-post. 2-3 years ago I would have shouted at him, made a scene and stormed out. But not these days....after I had swallowed his look, it suddenly dawned on me. Einstein's theory of relativity works extremely well in SBI.
While we had shifted on the time axis by 2 days...the nice chap helping us out was still in the same time position as (our) 2 days ago. You see this is exactly what happens when you do time travel. (You may call me an idiot but I will prove in the next post that this is true.)
Theek hain..thats ok....
Then, on one Saturday, leaving my colleagues in lurch, I moved stealthily in that SBI branch at 10.30 am with hope in my heart and a prayer on my lips. I went into the bank. Suddenly, I saw a man whom I had never seen before. He was sitting in a seat which was empty on our earlier visits. He must be the one - "The One". I walked to the counter. There were only 2 people there. In less than 20 minutes he was done with them. I thought through my strategy lessons from IIMA. Can I apply any of my case learnings here. He was already staring at me with the look that said, "You are wasting national time by staring blankly at me, you duffer." Unable to think anything, I pulled out something from my bag....Only the documents came out. I handed them over to him. He said, "Iska kya karu?" I spoke with as meek voice as I could, "Sir dekhiye documents complete hain kya"
He glanced through them for the next 3-4 minutes. Sweat on my eyebrows, it felt like 20 minutes (theory of relativity...remember). He said, "Yeh theek hain". As he tried to return the documents to me, I moved swiftly. My hands pulled the form out of the bag and offered to him. I had won the duel. My form was in front of him before he could push the documents back to me. I had won this duel.
With obvious discomfort, he had to accept his defeat in this round. I had not only taken his acceptance, I had also made him move with me in the next round. But my eyes were on the final goal, I kept my emotions closed within. He suddenly smiled...no...I resolved not to allow him easy victory. He said, "Yeh optional waala part bhariye." The old Siddharth popped out and said, "Lekin woh to optional hain". He said, "Theek hai...aapka form vaapas aa jayega central processing se...account nahi khulega". No! I took the form. Without leaving from his line of sight, I scribbled in many more boxes. In 15 or maybe 20 minutes, "I gave him the form". He said, "Abhi Monday ko aaiye". I begged to the 'One', "Sir, aaj hi kar dijiye...please". He said, "To rukiye thodi der". Finally, at 12.55pm he called me and stamped the form. Wait for another 35 minutes and my account was opened.
He gave me the number and the passbook. The third visit was what was needed to find the "One", the messiah of banking. The one man who could open my bank account.
With great joy I came back...the coming Monday I proudly announced to my colleagues. "I have a SBI account". To which they replied... "Well...Good luck to you. We will come to you if we need help." Sure I said. They never came for many days. I am still hoping to help them.
In the meanwhile, I want the online banking facility for which I have visited the bank 2 more times. But the messiah of Online SBI banking is different and his time travel is slower than the earlier one. I guess the next visit...definitely
And the ATMs, yes the ATMs, that story next time...