After Intermediate, during the time when all of us were free for a good three months and did not know what to do with ourselves, my mother suggested I should attend personality development classes being conducted in CELT(Center for English Language Training) at the Osmania University . We had to pay two thousand rupees for the class and in the form of a D.D, a demand draft that is. My father had this pretty notion that I should start “learning” or whatever that meant, and he insisted that I should go to the bank alone and get the D.D, fill it, complete the whole procedure required and submit it in the CELT office. Fine, I thought to myself, but I told him I would take my mother along. He told her severely, not to help me with anything but just look on as another customer. My mother said okay, but I knew my mother would be lenient, and so didn’t worry about it much.
So, the next day, or you can say the first day (you’ll know why I called it the first day later on) , both of us went to a government bank. At the counter, sat a blind woman (she might have been semi blind,but she definitely couldn’t see either partially or fully). But when I asked her for a D.D, she promptly gave one to me. Okay, so we sat down and I began filling up the form. I filled up the entire form, but at the end of the form, they wanted an account number and my mother chose that very day to forget her pass book at home and she didn’t know her account number by heart. That was okay too (or so we thought), because with D.Ds there is always an option of paying money directly and not deducting money from an account. So, we went to the counter again and asked if we could pay the money directly, but to our luck, they had made that bank into a P.B , a personal bank that very day and such a type of bank would function only for account holders. It had to happen, THAT VERY DAY!
Okay fine, we trudged back home and my mother told me that because I knew the basics, I should go by myself to the bank the next day along with her pass book. I agreed and went to the bank. The second day, that is. I completed the form, and went to the submission counter. There was a woman there ( sorry, I didn’t mention irritable and touchy), who was chatting with an ayah (gossiping,if you ask me), and when I called out to her,she looked at me as though I had dragged her away from the FIFA final. Grumpy woman. I handed my form to her, and she took it, looked at it .” What’s this?” she said. “This is not the way”, she said striking out viciously on my form with a red pen at several places. “Ma’am, this is my first time, I’m not really sure how to do this”, I said. “No, no, not like this. Take a new form and do it” she shouted and crumpled my form into a ball and threw it into the dustbin. Really helpful lady. I was so angry, I went to the main counter where the blind lady sat and asked her for another D.D. She gave me one and I started filling it up and then I saw and realized that it was not a D.D but a Savings Bank Cheque Form. Brilliant! Just what I needed. More mistakes. I was so frustrated, angry and so near to tears that I couldn’t bring myself to ask the lady another one. If she had given me another of those SBCs, (which she would have done if I had asked her) I would have started howling.
So, day 3. After getting my paper crumpled and thrown away, I went back home and told my mother that I would NOT do things like these any more, and I told her I would not join the class. When she narrated this to my grandfather, he tried to give me a simpler option or so I thought. He told me that there was a bank in the Osmania University itself, which was very near to my class. I could take my D.D there and submit it. Okay,I thought to myself. But this time,you’re coming with me, I told my mother clearly. She agreed. We went to the small, dingy, yet crowded bank. My mother said she would wait outside with my dog , and told me to go inside and get my D.D. (Thinking it would take only 10 minutes, I had tagged our dog along with us, the idiot that I was). So, I went inside and there were people of various nationalities inside, mostly Africans. I looked around myself stupidly, not knowing what to do and where to go. I realized it was time I acted because I wanted it over soon. So, I went up to a middle aged lady (who was the only person I could have struck up a conversation with anyway) and asked her where I could get a D.D form. ” On that table dear.”, she said pointing to a big table. I went up to the table where there were many forms lying around. I picked up a form and started filling it up. Okay,good I thought to myself, “Now, to submit this”. There was a big counter where a man sat and two smaller glass counters. I went over to the big counter where there was already a big queue. I stood there for a good ten minutes staring into space. Meanwhile an ayah came from behind and asked me what I wanted. I showed her the form. “D.D? Go there ” she said pointing to the second of the two small counters. Okay, so far so good. I went and stood in the queue. There were 6-7 people before me, five of them Africans and two of them Muslims. They looked like cool hippies to me, because of their hairstyle and their clothes. The first counter was absolutely empty. I looked at it longingly, wishing I could go there instead. All the time I stood in the queue, the first counter was empty except for a couple of people. At my counter, the queue made no progress. Each African was taking nearly 20 minutes and I was getting frustrated already. “Come on!” I thought to myself. As if to add to my frustration, two burly people barged into the queue before me. I wanted to scream at them, but thought the better of it. I think the motto of the bank that day was, ” Irritate Sruthi as much as you can” . Prime motto- “Make her cry”. I bit my tongue to stop myself from screaming. I stood in that queue, in that damned queue for an hour and three quarters, doing nothing. My mother came to the window a few times to see how I was getting along, but I couldn’t bring myself to reply to her. If I had opened my mouth, I would have started yelling. By the time I reached the end of the queue, it was nearly 3 o’clock. And I had not eaten lunch. “Finally!” I thought handing in my form to the uncle at the counter. He scrutinized the D.D and you know what he said?? ” Go to the first counter”.
I got pissed off. WHAT? Go to the counter that had been practically empty ? NOW? Why couldn’t I have known that BEFORE???? You MORON! I cursed mentally, not really sure who I was cursing. I trudged over to the next counter mournfully and now there were THREE people in line. Yeah, yeah, okay , atleast the bank was successful with its prime motto. After another 20 minutes at that counter, I finally got my D.D signed and stamped. But,the worst was not yet over, I was to know. I ran to the submission office and flung the D.D onto the table with gusto like I had just stuck the Indian flag on top of the Mt.Everest. She looked at the D.D and then at me with an expression I couldn’t register. Was it pity? Scorn? ” I’m sorry, this is not the D.D. It is supposed to look like a cheque. Like this”, she said showing me an example. I was not even listening properly. My head was swimming. I stumbled out of the room where my mother was waiting for me. I lost it. I went to her howling like a banshee. “What? What’s the matter?” she asked urgently. “This is not the one! There’s another! “, I told her still crying. “Here, hold him, I’ll go”, she said and went, giving me our dog’s leash. Our dog is a Chinese pug and these dogs, because of their small noses, cannot handle too much heat. By that time, it was almost 3:30 p.m and he was panting soo heavily that I was very alarmed. He had sat in the sun for a good two and a half hours and he had no water. He was drooling all over the floor and was making sort of retching noises. I got petrified. It did nothing to ease my crying though. ” Be quick, Amma” I told myself mentally. After another 10 minutes she appeared. “Done?” I asked. Somehow I knew the answer before she replied. “No, their printer is spoilt. They’ve asked me to come back tomorrow.”
We returned home and finally ate lunch. And our dog took nearly 3 hours to recover. The poor thing.
Day 4 – “There’s nothing you have to do. Just give them this slip and they will give you the demand draft”, my mother told me as I was reluctant to go. My grandfather said he had some work at the bank too, and that he would accompany me. So, grudgingly, I agreed to go. We started off at 10:30 a.m. and when we reached there the bank was not open yet. It would open at 11:30 a.m. Big surprise. So, I went again to the bank an hour and a half later to collect the demand draft this time. So, I stood at the big counter in the queue. The man mistaking me for a student of the university tried to send me away. “I will call for you. Please go and sit down.” I tried to explain but he interrupted me saying the same thing again. I just stood there not knowing what to do. He saw me again and this time he got impatient. ” I told you to go and sit down. Please go. I shall call for you. Only then, come.” I tried to get a word in now. I explained to him how my mother had come a couple of days before for the draft and then he finally understood and became apologetic. “Why couldn’t you have told me that before?” he said, smiling widely, now becoming the next door uncle. ” I’ve been trying to.”, I said to myself. And finally, (Finally!) he gave me my D.D (though that took another 5 minutes). I took it how a mother would take her new born child into her hands. Hah! Finally! Triumphantly, I walked down to the submission office and handed the cheque. For that simple piece of paper, it had taken me four days.
And the university started another class the next week after that . I enrolled myself for those classes too. And we had to take a D.D. (Lucky me) But this time we went to a private bank. And there, it took me five minutes, just five minutes to get the demanddraft. And for all those 5 minutes time,we had been sitting comfortably in an air conditioned room. Fate!!