There are banks and then there are banks. Especially in the last decade. Back in my growing years all banks fell into three categories: ones like The Reserve Bank - legacy of the "Raj"; where everything was awe-inspiring, everything felt larger than life. Then there were the user-friendly local banks where your family had an account for ages and so they all knew you all. And then there were the new apparently small timers-the cooperative banks where you got the feeling that you have come to a ladies compartment in a Mumbai local train. The rare male or two looked lost or resigned.
Of late there is this new breed of banks mushrooming all over. Imposing façade, interiors of sleek designs of glass, chrome and steel with shiny palest shades of tiles, air-conditioned cool, sometimes even a wall to wall carpet – all in all, a posh décor.
I do not like doing business with these new banks.
I admit the old local branch banks are dirty and dusty. People there do not speak English and are mostly never well groomed. Very homely, often slow (can sure be irritating if you are in a hurry) who go even slower if - as I said earlier - they all know you all-meaning your family. Then a few questions about how the rest of them are become quite essential – however in a rush you may be.
There is a definite sense of bond and it is palpably so as you go through the paper work or stand in line or wait patiently for the person at the desk to look up so you can slide the passbook forward you need to update.
Often the whole proceedings are punctuated with exclamations over a new sari, accessory or lost weight and all this is discussed embarrassingly loudly -loud enough for the entertainment of the rest of patrons. Then there are enquiries about how the rest of the clan is and only after their “pound” of gossip/small talk is delivered is your task accepted for execution.
Not in the new arrivals with the chrome and steel. There no one knows and no one wants to know who you are. You are just an account number - that too if you are lucky. If you are in to submit some “chalan” or a form or do some franking then no one wants to know even that.
People there do not ever smile at you and if you attempt to, they look at you as if saying “stop that or else I am calling security”.
Whoa! Whoever designed these new banks and the work culture did not remember that warmth comes from smiling not from carpets. Cool air from the air conditioner does not do anything for the harried faces and raised tempers. The starchy impersonal faces do not make you feel you want to go back because no one cares; even if you were to drop dead right there on that carpet.