Monday, August 28, 2006

An evening at the ATM

Two days ago, it was usual rainy evening in Pune. I was standing outside the ATM and waiting for my apartment broker to come.

A man came and parked his motorcycle. He was wearing a typical "Safari", carrying a mobile phone in pocket with strap around neck. The middle-aged man looked worried rather a little suspcious to me. He came over and asked about the security guard. Since I had seen him going away (maybe for a leak), I told him that he is around and will return.

The man seemed to get more anxious. He started to look around with anxity. And with his every move I was getting more suspicious about his motives. I thought that he wants to withdraw good amount of cash and wats security to guard him.

Then the guard from next shop came over. The man look relieved and approached him.

"tum idhar ka guard hai kya?" (Are you the guard over here) he asked. He removed a ATM card from his pocket and asked him "yeh paisa nikal ke do" (Help me withdraw money).

Then I realised that man needs assistance at ATM. The guard who had come over just walked back to his place. The man seemed helpless now.

I could make out that he was a native Marathi fella. I went over and asked "Tumhala yacha number mahit aahe ka?" (Do you know the PIN number?)

With the usual unsaid law of interaction in Mumbai/Pune he answered me in Hindi - "Ha number pata hai. mere ko paisa nikalana hai...aap nikalenge kya?" (Yes I know it, I want to withdraw money, can you help?)

I took him inside, put the card inside and started the transaction. He wanted to check the balance first. He had not more than INR 2147 there. He asked me to withdraw 2100 for him. I did so and told him to collect cash once it comes. As I was about to turn back and leave, he said..."thamba, jara te card pan kadhun dya na!" (Wait, please help me take out the card also!)

I waited for that and then came out. The man was still inside. He counted the cash carefully, put it in an envelope and put the envelope inside his shirt. I was amused by all this by now. He seemed to really withdraw a huge sum from the ATM.

The man came out and he saw me still standing. He had a feeling of getting his work done and a feeling of obligation towards me. He called me "Thank you Saheb!" (Thank you sir) though I was probably as young as his son. He offered me a cold drink. He insisted a little more for a min. Finally I put my hand on his shoulder and said that its nothing much that I did. He again said thank you sir, and went away happily.

As he was counting the sum inside. I started thinking about all this over again. There was a time in life where not only 2000, but 20 to spend looked real big amount for me. And this does not date back very long, till I finished graduation, the story remained same for me on money front. I remembered the days when my mother used to give me exact bus fare for whole month (INR 200) and then 100 more for me to spend in case of emergency.

I remembered the 15 mins walk taken to catch the bus and same back home, just to save INR 2 a day. That saving helped me spend at the scrap-vendor and buy old computer magazines or an occassional snacks at the cafeteria.

Things have changed since I started earning. Except after the first salary, I dont remember time when I checked balance before withdrawing money. Well, doesnt mean that I got a tree of money to shake whenever I needed but I had enough always. I hardly travel by public transport now. Infact I have not yet boarded bus in Thane and Pune where I live now!

Another thing was the ATM itself. Technology has advanced so much and made life more simpler at times for people. Earlier people never thought of going to a bank at 7 pm in the evening. When you did go to the bank, you had to fill in withdrawl slip, get token, stand in queue and all those things.

This man reminded me of the past. Infact most incident in daily routine, take me back to past and make me wonder about the life in those good old days!

This man had just did that :-) In a flash he had taken me back in past. I came back to present and just smiled at myself.

Time changes so fast!!!