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A new experience in work

In early 1989 I was transferred to the Bangalore Main branch as the Chief Cash Officer. It was a new experience for me as I had never worked in Cash through my entire career. And Bangalore Branch was one of the largest Branches holding over thirty crore rupees at any given time over which I was responsible. A daily turn over of several lakhs of rupees in cash was a regular affair. I was the joint custodian along with the Cash Accountant and held the keys to the vault. It was an important position in the Bank involving some risks. That I came out unscathed at the end of my tenure of just about two years is a reflection of how carefully I discharged my duties. There was of course a couple of occasions when I escaped by the skin of my teeth from incurring a huge personal loss. One day an Officer from the Reserve Bank came on a surprise verification of the vault. Technically the vault is the property of the Reserve Bank and State Bank is only the custodian. The Officer from the Reserve Bank had come to verify the contents of the vault (over 30 crores of rupees in currency notes) at random. To my misfortune on that particular morning there was a slight procedural lapse on my part while withdrawing cash from the vault. An entry for fifty rupee denomination notes was wrongly made as five hundred rupee denomination and the difference in value in the books showed was a cool Rs.50,000. When the mistake was noted in the presence of the Inspecting official, I almost died on the spot. Apart from a reflection on my carelessness, it would mean that I would have to shell out the cash from my own resources as I was solely responsible for the mistake and that too before the end of the day. I was perspiring all over. No word was mentioned to anyone in the office until the mistake was found. The RBI Official was an old acquaintance of mine and he assured me that he would help locate the mistake. On a hunch I went to a nearby branch whose cashier had collected a few five hundred rupee notes in the morning from our branch. Nothing came out of that hunch and I returned sweating all over. I went straight to the vault. My friend the RBI man beamed at me and to my shocking surprise told me he had solved the mystery. He pointed to the entry I had made in the morning and pointed out the mistake. The money was safely in the safe. I almost collapsed and every one had a hearty laugh, of course at my expense.

On another occasion, I had by oversight handed over a bundle of one hundred rupee notes containing ten sections of hundred pieces each to a cashier for the day’s disbursements in the morning as was the normal practice. It so happened that the stapled sections of one hundred pieces were bundled in ten sections each the previous evening when all the left over cash in different denominations were turned in, one bundle contained eleven sections instead of ten. That means that one bundle which had eleven sections was accounted as one bundle with the normal ten sections. This bundle was withdrawn from the vault next morning and along with notes of various other denominations was handed over to the cashier. Now there were four or five cashiers working at the counters every day and some times they exchange bundles when they run short of cash for disbursements between themselves.

On this particular day when this particular cashier accounted for the day’s transactions she found rupees ten thousand excess and promptly informed me about the excess cash. This was nothing new in the Bank and the excess cash was usually kept in a separate account called the Sundry Deposit Account. Had that procedure been adopted in this case, I would have landed myself in trouble because there would have been a shortage of the said amount in the vault and the supposed to be excess cash would have been lying in the Sundry Deposit Account. I would have had to make good the shortage although the Bank had not lost any amount. The cashier who was an honest girl was good enough to inform me that one bundle she had received from me in the morning had in fact contained eleven sections instead of ten and that bundle she had not opened with the intention of reporting to me in the evening. I heaved a sigh of relief at the narrow escape. But the Union people came to know about this and made a hue and cry and refused to buy my story. They insisted that I should make good the amount. The matter was taken to the Branch Manager and after a good amount of discussion the Union climbed down and agreed to close the matter on being told by the concerned cashier that she had found one section extra in the bundle she had received from me. I was in great mental anguish over the incident and vowed to get out of the department post haste. As if in answer to my prayers soon enough I got my last transfer order on my request to the Regional Office for the fourth and last time with about six months left for retirement. I asked for this posting specifically for I had a desire that I should retire from the same building where I started my career in Bangalore way back in 1956. Of course the building was same but it was now the Regional Office the Bangalore Branch having been shifted to a new building in the same campus a few years back.

In 1989 on being transferred to the Bangalore Branch, I shifted my residence to a new residential area which was then coming up on the eastern outskirts of the city. Had I thought about acquiring a piece of land in that extension at that time I could have built a house of my own by the time I retired in about three years time at a comparatively low investment. Alas it was not to be as I was always only thinking about giving my children a good education and a good life for which money was required and I certainly could not have ‘squandered’ on a purely selfish motive of owning a house. And as all of them were girls I had an added responsibility of giving them away in marriage when the time came. All my resources and energy were therefore directed towards that end. My financial position was never very sound and there was very little scope to save any. My salary as an officer of the Bank was just sufficient to run the family. There was next to no support from any other source. So I decided to give a go by to any thought of owning a house once for all. It was also a fact that prices of land sites were going through the roof and I would be living in a fool’s paradise if I entertained any such ambitions.

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