So...well, I've gone and published a book. It's essentially a short story, or rather too long to be short and too short to be a novella. But such as it is, it is.
The idea to write stories set around a modern bank is probably not a new one. I think others have done some splendid work in writing both financial thrillers and humorous depictions of office life, so there is perhaps little that I can add to it. However, given that adding any bit of writing at all to a world of literature already groaning under the weight of writers past and present is an act of vanity on the part of the author, perhaps this is a not-unworthy embellishment.
“DCTMR Bank” is, of course, fictional, as are the characters and situations depicted in this story. But like all stories, it is drawn from people and events in real life. Greed, bureaucratic languor, top-management incompetence, hastily-executed plans, subversion of regulations and the professional clashes that become intensely personal – all are very much a part of Corporate Life. Above it all, though, is randomness. Any large organization comprises so many moving parts – departments, systems, and most importantly, people, that eventually they work against each other as much as for, and what ensues is at best organized chaos; at worst, total disaster.
The first story with these characters and situations I ever wrote was set in a corporate award ceremony (read it here), and the second was set during an off-site (read it here), and the main character of both was Sankalp Sodey, who was imagined as the perfectly inefficient low-level corporate employee, and the stories were essentially humorous. From there, the scope grew to encompass the other members of DCTMR Bank, and the team too became more specific in its function – from being just bankers, the characters became ‘Private Bankers’, the ones who catered to the elite of a Bank’s customers, the super-rich, the ‘Wealth’ segment. More importantly, instead of being humorous stories about a low-level grunt, they encompassed the higher levels within the hierarchy, and brought out that they were often just as inefficient and often far more unprincipled than poor Sodey. As more stories were written, I was fortunate to have them carried in the magazines Unbound and Telegram. (You can read them elsewhere on this blog - A Holiday for Kalpana Kinnarkar & Hormuz Patravala and the Faith of the Disbeliever)
This particular story though, has a more interesting background. When India demonetized its currency, or rather at the exact moment when the Prime Minister made the announcement that Rs. 500 and Rs. 1,000/- notes were to be taken out of circulation, I was in a movie theatre, watching a showing of ‘Dr. Strange’. Ordinarily, there is no reason to remember where one is at a particular time, but I doubt there are a lot of Indians who would easily forget where they were on that day at that time. I saw the news during the interval, in the form of a text forward from someone I knew, and over the period of the second half of the film, as Stephen Strange and Dormammu battled, my mind could only half-focus on the events on screen.
Most people are aware of how things unfolded over the following days. The struggles, the long lines, the explosion of ire on social media. Economists and laypersons grappled over the benefits of the policy for the economy and for people, but hardly anyone, I thought, paid attention to what would have happened within the entities that were required to implement this measure – the Banks. Government politicians blithely spoke of ‘minor inconvenience’ and a ‘return to normal’, and opposition politicians spoke of ‘draconian measures’ and ‘hasty decisions’. But for the people who sat in branches and offices and tried to make sense of all that was happening around them, life had become a mass of random – there is that word again - confusion. Directives from the Government and RBI came thick and fast and often contradicted each other. Customers were angry, bosses were frustrated, and no one knew what to do.
This, then, is a story born from those events. It is meant to be amusing, I hope it will make you think, but above all it is meant to entertain, and honestly I shall be delighted if it succeeds on any one of these parameters.
The characters are meant, mostly, to recur in other stories, which is why some have larger roles than others, and time and the muses permitting, I shall write those stories too.
Until then, I hope you will enjoy this one!
Presently, due to the size and suchlike, I have only kept it available as an e-book. You can read it on any Kindle device, or through the Kindle app on Android (Phone / Tablet) or iOS. You can even read it in your browser on the Amazon website.
Do share your love on Goodreads as well:
The Day Money Died
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