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A new life

Although my posting to the Ranebennur Branch as Accountant was not envisaged initially, my transfer order was changed because of the sudden indisposition of the then incumbent and I had to get reconciled to the change which signalled the next phase of my life. This phase turned out to be an eventful one. I spent a few days at Bangalore with Raji and children before reporting at the new branch which could be reached both by train and bus on the national highway. I was not able to shift the family to the new place as many advised me to because of the fact that my daughters were still in College and it would be inadvisable to shift them in the middle of their college term. I took charge as the full time Accountant of the Branch which had a Branch Manager, Field Officer and Head Cashier in the Supervisory cadre. It was a specialized Agricultural Development Branch. The main Ranebennur branch conducted all other Banking transactions. Staff strength was less than ten. I did not have much of a difficulty in acclimatizing to the new branch and carried out my work with my normal efficiency undisturbed by any other distractions. As the new place is closer to Bangalore, about 7 hours bus ride, I was able to go home to Bangalore every week end which was a great relief. I would leave on Saturday afternoons by the Bijapur-Bangalore bus which passed through Ranebennur around 3.30 P.M. to reach Bangalore by 10.30 P.M. After spending Sunday with the family I would start on my return journey back by train at 10.30 P.M. to reach headquarters early Monday morning. It did not disturb my work schedule but was a great help in keeping my morale up. I had arranged to share a small house I had taken on rent very close to the Bank with two colleagues of mine. I was trying for a transfer back to Bangalore as I presumed that this posting was only temporary and another officer would be identified for the permanent posting. But alas! It was not to be.

I plodded on for the next two and a half of years without any kind of relief. My only relief of course was the week end trips to Bangalore. The rest of the week I did a lot of reading, writing to the newspapers regularly and for relaxation playing caroms with my colleagues in the evenings. There were three cinema theatres which normally exhibited Kannada and an occasional Hindi movie. I started on my table tennis too as I found out that there were couple of guys in the Main branch who played a really good game. In course of time I grew restless as my organizational instincts are lying low after I left Bijapur. I talked to my colleagues in both the branches and it was decided that we organize an open tournament in T.T. We invited entries from not only the town but outside too. It was a huge success as the local people were hungering for such events. I won the doubles and finished runner up in singles. A local Bank taking the cue from our venture conducted a carom tournament which I won in both singles and doubles. Having come to know about how I started and ran a cricket team in Bangalore which became one of the best in the State, some of the local boys who were crazy about playing the game wanted me to form a team and develop the same for which they would provide the necessary funds by going on a collection drive. Not to disappoint them I did the basic work and went about assembling men and equipments. I arranged for the supply of bats, pads, gloves and balls through a sports firm in Bangalore I knew personally. We arranged for a match to inaugurate the team and the boys were so enthusiastic. They even invited me to umpire a few matches.

I also took a to play matches in the nearby Harihar town where a top class team pitted against us for a series of exhibition games which all of us thoroughly enjoyed. We were also invited by the staff of Dharwar branch for a visit to their branch on a Sunday. We played a lot of games between players of our branch and Dharwar branch. As an outstanding carom player I was asked to play against a number of players until some could defeat me but of course I came out unscathed. After the fun and games there was a grand lunch. All of us thoroughly enjoyed the trip.

Life in Ranebennur was very lonely and often boring. Passing time after the banking hours was killing until I found out ways to engage myself in interesting activities. I was able to relieve the tedium by keeping myself busy with my work, my games and a lot of writing which were regularly published. After I started playing caroms at the branch club, more and more staff fought among themselves to play against me or with me as partner in doubles play. We also had the pleasure of watching some outstanding local players in our club. Sensing the enthusiasm of the players I conducted a mini tournament among us in the final of which for the first time in my playing career I performed what they call a “black century”. This is how it goes. After your opponent opens the game and loses his chance I start to play the blacks. It so happened that every time I picked up the striker I was able to pocket one or more men until eventually I clear the entire board including the red with the follow on at one go giving my opponent no second chance. This feat is rarely achieved even by the best players. Some evenings when I was free I used to compose and type articles on topical subjects in the Bank itself often standing against the counter with the typewriter placed on it. I rarely wrote in pen by hand. Thoughts would flow freely once I chose my subject. It was really a great wonder that very few articles I wrote were returned unpublished. At this time I visited Bagalkot on invitation by the Bagalkot branch recreational club as they were planning to conduct a table tennis tournament there. I was to be the special guest at the tournament. I remembered I had helped them start the club when I was in Bijapur. Later I had occasion to attend the annual conference of the Officers’ Association in Hubli as the delegate from our Unit. I met many friends of mine and had a chance to talk with some office bearers about my problems staying away from the family for nearly five years. They promised to take up my case with the concerned people in Regional Office and find a solution soon. As was my habit I also made a speech at the open session. I also kept in constant touch with the Regional Office functionaries to press for an early transfer as I had already completed three years in the branch.

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