KATHMANDU, FEBRUARY 22
When we were in our early 20s and working, I decided to open an account in a bank. Unlike today, we had one bank only. Today, of course, there are banks and momo shops for everyone.
I discussed my plan with a few colleagues. Some told me that my idea was brilliant. Others warned me it was not that easy. I proceeded to open an account but failed to do so as I could not furnish personal references.
The bank clerks eyed me suspiciously and asked me funny questions. They didn't know that I was earning well.
It transpired that I could not open an account without personal references. So on a Saturday morning, I sauntered off to my mother's sister, whose brother-in-law was a supervisor in the bank. By then, my saving had swelled to half a lakh, enough to buy scores of hills. I was asked to go to his branch at Jamal, a stone throw away from Bishwojyoti Cinema Hall. I went to meet my aunt's kin in the bank. He was sitting in a cold room, surrounded by his juniors. His face hadn't the faintest smile on it. Perhaps his serious demur stems from his onerous responsibility. He did not return my greetings, stared at me sternly and put me ill at ease by asking me where I got the money from.
I handed him my money which he counted several times before walking away. He returned after what seemed like an eternity, gave me a deposit slip and asked me to come back to fetch my passbook in a week.
A week later, the grave man gave me the passbook. Until I had the passbook in my hand, I would have nightmarish dreams of the stone-cold man embezzling my money.
Although I was relieved at receiving the passbook, fear persisted about my money. I found out that it was more difficult to withdraw my money. The guys would not cash my cheque and kept whispering among themselves.
My acquaintance was nowhere in sight. Luckily, I was bold and confident by then. I told them to stop whispering and staring at me but to bring my money within five minutes.
The entrepreneurial bug bit me a few years later. A visiting Indian friend suggested that I go to a bank for funding. I returned to Jamal and recounted my business plan to an officer.
He looked at me as if I had committed sacrilege. He called out to his hangers-on, and said to them my business plan with derision. He told his sycophants: "Look at this boy. He wants to buy Bag Bazaar and build a supermarket with our money."
That was then. Today it is a different story. Going to private banks is no longer a pleasure.
There are many unpleasant banking experiences, including dealing with rude clerks. The staff behaviour at Nepal Bank Ltd is much better now.
A version of this article appears in the print on February 23, 2021, of The Himalayan Times.