To update my address in my bank pass-book.
1) Ask landlord for a letter and a copy of his phone bill. Wait 15 minutes, get it.
2) Cycle to the bank (crossing the overflowing river that has reached the road on the way). Meet the branch manager. Manager ponders, ask if my landlord has an account in this bank for security check. Phone landlord; the answer is no. Manager ponders, asks another few questions. “I need a photocopy of your landlord’s pan-card”, manager says. Phone landlord; he’s away til Sunday. OK, I’ll come back to the bank on Monday. Cycle back through the overflowing river and get home.
3) Get pan-card photocopy from landlord.
4) 10:30am – Cycle through the overflowing river and to the bank. Go to the manager’s office; show him the pan-card photocopy of my landlord.
5) Manager: “But he hasn’t signed his letter! I can’t do anything til I get a signature of your landlord that matches the one on his pan-card.” “You’re an educated lady, you should know that a letter should be signed to be valid” etc. etc.
6) Get frustrated. “But he wrote it himself, and some people’s signatures are just their name in writing, how could I know!?”! “Being angry is not good”, says manager. “I know. I’m OK, I’m just human” says I. Calm down. Get out of the office. Retaining my tears of frustration, phone landlord – thank God he’s home; he was about to get out in 10 minutes but he will wait for me.
7) 11:00am – Cycle through the overflowing river (& the Indian traffic) back home; get landlord’s signature.
8) 11:30am – Cycle through the overflowing river and back to the bank for the second time. Sit down in front of the manager; hand him the landlord’s letter with his signature. Wait in manager’s office.
9) Manager goes to his employee’s desk and instructs her to update my details and issue a new passbook. Wait.
10) Get my new passbook. Go back to manager’s office to get it signed by him. “And now say thank you!” says manager. “Thank you, dhanyavad, bahut dhanyavad”, says I, smiling away.
11) 12:30 – Cycle through the overflowing river and back home. Cook lunch. Eat lunch. Getting ready to photocopy the front page of my passbook; open passbook – my address was typed erroneously. ARGH!!! OK, it was my fault too I should have checked. Actually getting amused wondering what the manager will look like when he sees my face approach his office again.
12) 14:00 – Cycle back through the overflowing river and the Indian traffic and to the bank for the third time. Check-out the manager’s eyes growing in size as I approach the office. Sit down in front of his desk. 3-4 people are waiting for some work to get done – as usual manager deals with all customers at the same time. “The address is wrong”, I say. Still calm(ish). Wait.
13) After a while, the manager looks at my passbook. “What now?”, he asks. “The address was typed wrongly”, says I. “Ok ok. My colleague is having her lunch. We have to wait for her. She will make a correction on the second page of your passbook”, says he. I feel anger rise again. “No no, I want a new passbook! I need a strong proof of address for some official work, I want it to look right!” “I’ve been coming three times! I had so much to do today I have done nothing at all!” Letting anger out trying to control myself. “It’s not good to get angry.” says manager. “I am a human being, kind sir. Humans do get angry from time to time, no?”
14) Calm down. Wait for others customers to get dealt with, focusing on my breath…
15) After a wee while… “Smile!” says manager. I look at him; I’m calm but I can’t possibly let a smile out. “Anger is not good; but lying is also not good, right sir? So If I smiled I’d be lying, and that’s not good either!” says I. “Actually, that’s quite true”, says manager. I burst out laughing. In the meantime, the other customers have left and I’m alone with the manager.
16) “Haha.” smiles manager, in a “See, you’re smiling!” kind of look! “You know, there used to be 6 employees in this office. Now we are only 3 people and I’m the only officer. See this pile of paperwork on my desk; but I never get angry. In my life, I just want to give, give, give” says he, moving his hands eagerly in the air… “No take, just give… That’s what Jesus used to say no?”
17) “Uh?!” I say; I didn’t understand what he said because of his accent. “Jesus” he repeats. “Ah OK! Jesus; hm I guess; I don’t know.” “You don’t know??” asks manager in disbelief. “Nah, I never had any religious education. Actually I know more about Hinduism than Christianity”.
18) More talking about how to be a good human being. Getting more and more amused by his funny wig-looking like hair style and his slightly gay-looking expressions and gestures.
19) Manager gets up and goes to the toilet just besides his office. Half a minute later he comes back and proceeds to open his lunch box. “I’m just going to get some water’, says I. “No no!” says manager. “I have some water. Here you take it. You can drink from above, right?” – “Yep”. Pour water into my mouth without touching the bottle.
20) “Please I won’t let you go without sharing a chapati with me; just one.” says manager. “No no, thanks that’s very kind; I’ve just had my lunch sir”. “Oh please, says manager. Just one chapati!” A bit embarrassed but impressed with myself for having shouted at him earlier and now getting to share his lunch (!), I come round his desk, take a chapati, dip it in his paneer (cheese) dish.” Yum! While biting my chapati, I look outside of the office and see a surprised customer looking at the foreign lady sharing the bank manager’s lunch.
21) “Who made this?” ask I. ” My Mrs made it.” says manager. Manager proceeds to ask me about my family, tells me his daughter lives in America; his wife works in a bank like him, and “You speak very good Hindi; where did you learn? etc. etc.
22) Manager gets up; his employee is back from her lunch and has come into the office. Manager hands her a small pile of paper, including my passbook. “Please issue a new passbook for the lady; the address is wrong.” Employee looks surprised that she’ll have to issue a whole new passbook for me but complies. I follow her to her desk. Wait 5 minutes. Get my new passbook. I check it; the address is right.
23) Get back to manager’s office. He signs my passbook. Big smile. “Thank you sir, bye”….
24) 15:35pm – Cycle through the overflowing river and the Indian traffic and back home. Sigh. 4pm. Horrah! I have my new passbook! And I SHARED THE BANK MANAGER’S LUNCH IN HIS OFFICE!!!!! HAHAHAHAHAHA!!!! I LOVE INDIA!!!!