Finally! A Bank Account: Nov. 7th

A journal contribution from Sue while Ashok is in the USA:

As with many industries, the banking sector has undergone many changes since the economic liberalization of India. Five years ago, banking was nationalized, obsessively paper driven, and customers were at the mercy of the tellers and bank managers. Going to the bank in those days was the equivalent of having a root canal - very time consuming and very painful. Today, there is competition in the banking industry, computerization is "in", and our bank even advertises an unprecedented six hours of banking each work day! Times have really changed for the better, but with growth and change, there are always a few growing pains...
Several people were waiting for the ATM machine when I arrived at the bank to try out my brand new ATM card. Everyone was looking at the screen that said, "please wait". I asked the people ahead of me if they had been waiting long. No, not long, only twenty minutes. One guy looked through the ATM check deposit slot and asked the bank personnel inside how long it was going to be. Someone from the bank answered. A few minutes later the screen indicated it was ready. The first guy put his card in, punched a few numbers, then exclaimed, "There’s no withdrawal". This was two days before the Diwali Festival and we all needed cash. We crowded around the screen and agreed the space where the withdrawal option should have been was blank. The first guy communicated the difficulty through this increasingly useful check deposit slot. A voice responded it would be corrected soon. After about ten minutes, the screen again indicated it was ready and several people successfully processed transactions. When my turn came up, I keyed in my secret code and requested the screen displayed option to withdraw 3,000 rupees. The screen responded "insufficient funds" and my card was spit out. I walked over to the front of the bank and explained my problem. My account balance was verified and it was agreed my 94,583-rupee balance should be okay for this transaction.
Back to the ATM room to try it again. This time I inserted my card, keyed in my secret code, requested a cash withdrawal, and waited patiently for several minutes. After a while, the guy behind me in line said, "It’s the Airport Road machine". At my puzzled look he related the story of the first time he used his ATM card. He thought something was wrong when he had to wait for ten minutes for the transaction to complete. He couldn’t decide whether it would be better to run over to the main entrance of the bank to tell them what was happening and risk the card and money might get snatched in the meantime, or just wait. (At that time, he didn’t know the short cut of speaking through the deposit slot.) Since he has a bad leg and can’t bend one knee he wisely chose to wait. The card and money did eventually appear, but he followed up inside the bank anyway to let them know there was a problem. He was told this bank has an ATM machine at two separate branches in Bangalore. When one machine is processing, the other is completely frozen. This provides customers with the convenience of accessing funds from either branch. I looked at my watch. Accessing cash took just over an hour. Oh well, I have to admit I do like the convenience of that check deposit slot.