Bank Deja vu

Jun 2, 2010 | India

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I am sure that few if any of you can relate to my experience at the State Bank of India here in Nagpur. This was one of those “deja vu” encounters. I needed to make a foreign exchange for some Rupees and had been avoiding the trip due to the heat. This transaction is usually a 2-hour plus event. “D” day could not be avoided any longer, so off to the bank with 114-degree heat and climbing and this was morning. Arriving in the dirt parking lot, I looked upon a temporary thatch entrance—that should have been a clue.

Thirty years ago I entered this same bank at 120-degrees with this same type of “air conditioning.” A koolie stands at the thatch wall and throws buckets of water on the thatch (WATCH OUT) thus letting whatever breeze there might be create a cooling effect.

Inside I was greeted with the MODERN version, which are water-evaporation-coolers. Big question, how do you have a computer-operated bank without air conditioning? The temperature inside must have been about 95 to 100 degrees, plus the humidity from the coolers.

Since I am a long time customer I know my way around the bank, of course they change everything almost every trip. Making my way to the Foreign Exchange office only to be told to wait 2 minutes! No such thing in India. There was an elderly lady, (not fair since she was younger than me,) sitting in a chair near a cooler and she motioned for me to sit in a chair next to her. Aha! She got to be closer cooler!

After about 10 minutes I was asked to come into the office to fill out the necessary papers. Usually you are given the papers and then sent out of the office to fill out the obligatory information. This time “Surprise,” the man said to stay there. As I started to list the numbers on the bills, he asked for my passport and filled out all of the other paper work except for my signature. I must have looked like a needy soul. Five and I mean five minutes later I was ushered, holding tightly onto my little number coin, by a “tiny older lady” to the money window on the other side of the bank.

When we arrived the person who gives you the money was on break, so we had to wait. Since one’s place in line or position is only as strong as the holder of that place. Everybody tried to put his or her paper work before mine, but my “tiny tour guide” and protector, made sure I was first in line. This whole transaction was made in a record-breaking time of 42 minutes. Praise God for little favors.

You might be asking what about the “deja vu”. The Last time I was in India in the month of May, at 120 degrees, to this same bank I got heat stroke and almost died. Three days to recover, which I do not remember a single event, only the extreme pain. Return I must, to that which God has called me.

To top off this incident, I came back to campus looking forward to a shower, and believe it or not, there was NO water. The tank was empty when the corporate transformer went out. Oh, the joys of India. At least everyone smelled, not just me.