The difference between the way my bank treats me and the way Vijay Mallya got treated is a little bit different. Just a dinky little bit.
Three weeks ago I asked for a loan of Rs 1 lakh. After he had stopped laughing and rolling on the floor and wiping tears of mirth, the bank manager asked me for collateral, a character certificate and he gave me three forms as complex as an Msc examination. He also sent me to search for a magistrate/gazetted officer and two people (with social status) to stand as surety. I was also asked to get a letter from my company showing how much there was in my PF and end of term benefits. He told me there would be a few more forms in the second round but first I would have to take a polygraph and see if I make the cut, rather like Ajinkay Rahane. "No", he said, "We cannot say for sure if you make the grade. We have to be careful, he said. Our bank is known for exercising caution."
I want to know who stood guarantee for Vijay when the bank gave him Rs 1500 crores in a takeaway bag. And did he get himself a gazetted officer? How cautious and careful was that? My friendly next door banker warned me of dire consequences and the electronic voice threatened to have me shot because I was Rs 17000 into overdraft.
Mr Mallya was only Rs 9000 crores in the red and they were so accommodating. No one hassled him. No one said, oops he has crossed 1000 crores, now 2000 crores, hey people hitting the ‘red hot’ marker at 3000 crores and rising, should we send him a generic email at least.
They took my phone number, office number, mobile number, email, fingerprints, photographs and ECG and this guy, they cannot find, they cannot even call him. They try any number they get Suhel Seth.
If my credit card minimum is overdue by one day (Rs 8,200 which is less than the tip Vijay gave at the airport)an Interpol red alert goes out and the commissioner of police sends a Swat team to my house. A lady tells me sweetly that if I try to leave the city the goon squad will find me and I will have to live the rest of my life looking over my shoulder.
Vijay Mallya and his lady friend checked in at Jet Airways, went through Immigration, strolled around duty free, sat in the lounge and no one recognized him or asked him if he had his PAN card on him. No one said, excuse me, did you give back the 9000 crores. There must be at least 7000 bankers in these 17 banks and not one of them has an address where they send those first warning and second warning letters.
And then the final “it has gone to Collections” and we are coming to get you so now you might as well jump off the ledge and end your sorry, miserable life.
While I was sitting with my bank manager explaining why I was late in repayment and he had that ‘Oh! Please, no sob story, okay' snotty expression, he made a phone call to the boss of a defaulter (that’s what we are called if we don’t pay on time, people like Vijay are called salt of the earth, valued customer or ‘please Sir, take some more’ Cat One VIPs).
If we don’t answer the phone we are known as absconders. People like Vijay don’t answer the phone, they just threaten to take TV anchors to court. Where we little people go wrong is we ask for teeny weeny loans. The trick is to take such a big loan that the banks are afraid to recall it because what if you tee off to your country house and frolic in the autumn mist and don’t give it back.
None of which tees me off except that our bank managers never offer us tea and biscuits. Vijay probably gets a 5 star buffet and the bank picks up the bill.
Tried to get him on the line again...and Suhel is still at it.