Thursday, October 11, 2007

Banking, Electricity, Laundry and Traffic...and Playground Equiptment: Part One

All things we gave little thought to in the U.S.A. All things that functioned in the backround of our lives. Certainly present...yet taken for granted. Occuring with a minimum of fuss. Safety essentially presumed.

Welcome to India Where It Is Best To Take Nothing For Granted!

Going to the bank has taken on a comical note: Today was our fourth attempt at visiting the HSBC bank at which we have an Indian bank account. Bob was lucky enough to get it set up at work during his orientation when the banking rep was present to help Indian employees set up direct deposit. They weren't very happy with his signature and he had to sign form after form after form but the deed was done in an afternoon. We know other expats for whom the process has taken 2 we were feeling pretty good.

As there was no actual money in the account yet we decided to deposit the rest of our travelers checks. Since the bank is close to the Target office (but 40 minutes in decent traffic from Palm Meadows) it made sense for Bob to stop by one Friday 3:45 pm. Until he discovered that banking hours are 9:30 to 3:30. Bob has decided that he will one day return to work as an expat banker. Strike One.

We're told the bank is open on Saturdays. We drive the 40 minutes (again, on the way to some place else). There are MANY people at the bank, but it is open. We go inside. We ask where we can exchange travelers checks and are directed to a long line. We wait. Our turn arrives and we are told that it is impossible to cash travelers checks or do international wire transfers on a Saturday. "You'll have to come back during the week." We sigh in frustration but go on with our day. Strike Two.

We decide that the kids and I will ride in with Bob on the way to work for a third attempt and then go visit a bookstore we've heard of. The kids are cranky. Owen has to go potty. We arrive at the bank and get out of the car only to find that it's a holiday and the bank is closed. We laugh at the absurdity and vow to try again. (At this point it's no longer just a trip to the bank. At this point, it's a QUEST.) Strike Three.

It's the following day (TODAY) and we set off again certain that the fourth time's GOT to be a charm. We do a verbal checklist: Weekday? Check. Banking Hours? Check. NOT a holiday? Check. The kids are left at home with the maid (no potty stops or sibling rivalry to slow us down). The car has fuel. Our water bottles are full and accounted for. Passports? Yep, got 'em. Account number, banking paperwork, actual travelers checks??? Yes, Yes and Yes. We make the 40 minute journey for the fourth time. Arriving at the bank at 9:35 we see that it is indeed open. We step into a short (!) line, reach the teller desk, present our papers...and are politely but firmly told that the exchange rates are not available until after 10:30.

We stare like guppies at the teller... The pulse in Bob's normally calm temple bounds... But in the end we shrug our shoulders, Bob reschedule's his 11:00 am meeting and we go out for a "soothing" cup of tea, returning at 10:30 where we eventually pull the sword from the stone and make the d#*n deposit!

Aah...India. What we love best about it so far is also what frustrates and challenges us the most: Nothing is ever what it seems and every notion you've ever had is split down the middle!

Chandra And Bob Fischer
Knights of the Round Table
Happily Searching For the Sorcerer's Stone in Bangalore...


Tami of BrooksGroth said...

Thanks for all of the updates and vivid descriptions. I would have had no idea things were still that challenging there if it weren't for your blog.

You all are in my thoughts often --

Susan Schneider said...

Chandra, this is worth a publish --is there an expat mag there? You could find the Sanskrit that speaks of the relationship between frustration and patience. Great story. Love to all. Sue