Friday 28 February 2020

Daily Drabble #3 - Global

“Ooh, you’re the person from Head Office?”

Jayesh nods, too tired to even smile. The village has maybe three bank branches in total. It’s his misfortune, he thinks, that DCTMR is one of them.

“Idris, GRG ka banda aaya hai.”

A large, stressed-looking chap emerges from the cabin. Jayesh is somewhat impressed, despite himself, that there is an air-conditioned cabin in Jhakulgaon branch. The last three places he visited had fans that worked on generator power.

Namashkar, Jayesh. Come, come. Tea? Coffee?”

“Water, please,” says Jayesh, finding that even the thought of a hot beverage seems to make his sweat glands go into overactive mode.

Chhotu, GRG wale saab ke liye paani lao,” shouts Idris. He rubs his hands together, and gestures Jayesh to a chair. “So tell me, what is news from BKC? Head office is happy with us?”

Jayesh avoids wincing.

“Oh yes, very happy that’s why they sent me to, err…encourage you guys. See here—” he pulls a sheaf of papers from his case “—this is the new form for offline enrollment of potential NRIs for money transfer services…” 

His prepared monologue is cut off as chhotu brings a glass of water, thumb firmly within the rim, touching the liquid inside. Jayesh nearly retches, but remembers he is wearing a tie and a shirt he paid a hundred rupees to get laundered and ironed in Jamsande Town two days ago, and manages to control himself. 

The monologue continues. Idris receives a phone call approximately once every six-and-a-half minutes (they are long phone calls, giving Jayesh enough time to do the math). Some of them even seem to be related to work. About a hundred customers pass through the branch during the day. Not one is presently, planning to become, or related to, an NRI, and as such has no use for international money transfer services. Nevertheless, Idris promises that his branch will do amazing work in the field and register lots of new customers and can HO just up the incentive a little so his ‘guys in the field’ are adequately compensated for their efforts?

Jayesh says he will do what he can.

At night, Jayesh is waiting at the railway station for the train to Dhabadepul. He smokes a contemplative cigarette. There is a signboard threatening a fine, but he’s learned that such signboards are pure lip-service. He thinks back to a quite different wait—what was it, three years ago?—in the air-conditioned waiting room outside Conference Room number 4 at his B-School in Calcutta on Day 1 of Placement Week. He thinks about the man from DCTMR, a blue-shirt-wearing, red-tie flaunting, slightly pot-bellied Deputy General Manager from GRG. How eloquent he had been! 

‘In GRG, we have plans. Big plans. Money flows all over the world, Jayesh. From the US to Mexico, to China, to Philippines, from the UK to mainland Europe, from mainland Europe to Africa, from Australia to South-East Asia, the river of money flows faster and stronger than the Ganges, and DCTMR wants to be there! We want to be the valve in every pipe that carries money. And you will be the washer in that valve! You will be everywhere! London, Paris, Milan, Moscow…uhh…Dubai, Sydney, Casablanca, Acapulco, Davos, New York, Tulsa…I mean, Houston, we have a branch in Houston too…”

Jayesh is cynical enough now to chuckle at the memory as he taps the ash from the cigarette-end. He has been to about seventy dusty, smelly, unsanitary, hole-in-the-ground-toileted, no-hot-water-baths-available villages in the last three years, hocking the offline registration process for DCTMR money transfer. Most of them were not even as polite as Idris had been. Some have told him to his face that his product is terrible and their branch won’t waste resources on it. Others have said that their branch has no use for international money transfers when they can barely get a customer to open a savings account. Many have just smiled and nodded and forgotten about him the moment he left. The rest of that time he has spent vegetating behind a desk, surrounding by unused forms, at the Kalyan office in Mumbai. (He tells people he’s from the BKC office. It’s only a white lie; his department head does sit at DCTMR HQ there.) The closest he has come to leaving the country was when the departmental offsite went to Alibaug in a ferry and they came close to international waters.

“I think we will hire you, Jayesh, though of course you should wait for the official intimation through your college,” he remembers the blue-shirted, red-tied, pot-bellied man saying. “Any questions?”

“I will surely accept, sir. Just one question,” he had replied, with a broad smile. “What does GRG stand for?”

Global Remittances Group, my boy. Global Remittances.”

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