2nd in the series - Stories from Traveling by Public Transport in Bangalore
Day: Tuesday, 19th March 2013
Avoid short-cuts through life at any cost, some would say. I agree and to reiterate this let me first share with you something that happened before my travel by public transport on this particular day.
I was to leave office a little early, to help the daughter revise for her exams. However, this was not to be and I was running late by a whole hour and a half. At this point, when a friendly junior colleague offered to drop me to the bus stop (a 800m walk) on his thundering bullet, how could I say no?
So, I went along. About 50m into our journey, this friendly colleague decided that he could drop me further ahead (2kms now instead of the 800m). Once again, counting the 1.5 hour delay, I gladly accepted. That's when it began... A short-cut through life!
Instead of the regular main roads that give one a comfortable feeling of traveling on the road often traveled, this polite creature decided to take a deviation off the road, climbing through a steep mound of mud and stones. Without exaggerating (though it is very tempting to exaggerate this part), this was a 45 degree angle slope! In spite of the adventurous blood that runs through my so-called Rajput, Kshatriya veins, I was tempted to tap the gentleman on the shoulder and propose that I walk till the ground is more lateral. I resisted, to avoid making him feel ill-equipped to handle, what but a slope on a thundering bullet!
The steep was cleared, albeit after some "oh!" and "ah!" from the rider himself.
The sight that awaited me on the other side of the steep slope was breath-taking (more like lung choking but we shall continue). On the left of us was a largish water body and a mud path running along the bank of the water body that met a rivulet feeding the water body. The picturesque scene was marred by the fact that the rivulet was the outlet of a sewage drainage and the water body was well what you get when you feed a land dip with sewage water! I held my breathe since there were a couple of people walking along the path and even a couple of bikes ahead of us passing through as though it were a regular scenic route that you can only be stupid not to enjoy.
The bike now had to cross the rivulet (yes, pass through the sewage water) and the couple of bikes ahead of us crossed it without neither incident nor reason to doubt that it just may not be possible. Just when our turn to cross the rivulet got closer, one of the voices in my head tried to sound an alarm. But once again, I resisted saying anything so my very polite and helpful rider would not have to go through the emotions of one whose very ego is hurt by questioning his ability to ride through what two others rode through.
The bike began crossing and the next thing I know, I can hear the rider say "Oh no! Oh no! Oh shit!" and the bike tilted 45 degrees to the left, like the slope that it had just so proudly conquered a few seconds back. My left foot was swimming in dark, sewage water and I think I might have felt some things moving, had my 'Fight or Flight" instincts not kicked in. I jumped off the bike and jumped ashore before any more grime got to me, my clothes et al.
The bike was almost down and the poor boy struggled to get it upright, which was when (in my defence, having realised the scene I left behind) I went back into the little stream and helped him get the bike back on its wheels.
Having been dropped off thereafter (without further incidents), I climbed into the familiar comfort of a 500C Volvo that would take me home safely for sure (Couldn't really say the same about other vehicles on the road that the bus would pass by on its journey).
So here I was, my mind too shaken up to read or write anything and instead just trying to focus on how to set the right question paper for my daughter once I got home. At the next stop, two women boarded the bus - one of whom sat diagonally opposite me while the one slightly older than her sat right next to me.
The younger girl seemed very energetic and was talking incessantly. She addressed the one next to me as Ma'am. To continue the narrative, I shall call the younger woman P and the older woman N (Note: These names are purely fictitious and have no resemblance to real people either living or dead, etc.)
From the first few seconds of the discussion, I quickly pegged them as government employees (or someone who worked in a highly bureaucratic organization). Mind you, I was minding my own business and trying hard to get over my "near complete fall into the great water-like body" and focus on exams instead.
And P went "And ma'am we have to manage 5 ATMs with wonly 2 officers"
"They can post 2 more officers but where is the place for them to sit? Paapa they can't send people without any place wonly"
"We will still need 4 officers at least to maintain 5 ATMs"
"I don't know waat they will do wonly"
My ears perked up, what with my own frustration earlier in the day with a bank I have banked with for over 11 years now! I thought to myself, this conversation may help me understand 'the bank's side" of a story and may be I could be a little more empathetic when I have conversations with the voices on the other side of the bank support phone lines.
P was by now smiling mischievously and my reading into it was that she had done something or had knowledge of someone having done a mistake at work that day. She goes, "I made the entry ma'am. MICR entry correctly I put 50 thousand rupees. Then that M made the ATR entry. Only few minutes she did ma'am work. That time wonly she put 30 thousand rupees for that cheque."
Wow! Now the conversation was definitely worth following through on.
"I don't know how it escaped when I was checking also"
"Paapa ma'am that cheque is going back. Bank charges also 22 rupees 5 paise is there. I tried to reverse charges and delete that entry but it asked password"
"I asked sir, he you know no ma'am, he said no, let it go"
"We can actually reverse it and make it one more entry but then that email will come and they will ask why you people are doing like this. We can manage that also but he did not do. Paapa he is also being careful now after that RO meeting"
At this point N, sitting beside me asked "what is the customer name?" to which P gave it LOUD and CLEAR for all to hear "B........"
The girl sitting opposite me caught my eye and smiled nodding her head in what clearly meant "No wonder, we have such problems with bank"
And so P continued "Aiyo, his cheque will go now back with the reason also it is given - number and words not matching" "but it is matching ma'am. That M wonly she did it in that few minutes. Paapa that customer, he will have to pay the bank charges also because it is cheque returned to ma'am... what we will do?"
And then she went on to describe in more indepth details on how the bank worked, releasing money (no less than 10L) based simply on a phone call, by her, since an RTGS request hadn't come through.
By now I had forgotten all about the short-cut in life and the exam paper I had to set once I got home. My thoughts were more on the lines that your money is probably safest spent or at home in sacks!
On that note, I shall end this post and wish all of you, my lovely readers a fabulous weekend...