State Bank of India

That’s what I must be looking like, these days. Or maybe I walk around with dollar signs in my eyes, like Richie Rich in the old comic books. I never thought I came across as a particularly sympathetic sort. I thought I’m a pretty callous type, capable of not just saying no, but adding along with it, “That’s your problem, what’s it got to do with me?”


Still, my domestic help always think I’m a soft touch. I’ve noticed that they are particularly prone to think so when Amit is not around. That’s when their sob stories come out, along with the big eyes and mournful faces. This latest domestic help tried to get money out of me back when she was about a week old. I told her “no” in no uncertain terms. Since then, she has behaved admirably well. Today she asked for a thousand bucks. Since it is well over halfway through the month, I agreed. But I really hope she’s not going to make a habit of it, because I wouldn’t want to lose her, but I don’t want to be held to ransom either.


As if this was not bad enough, the security guard at office came up to me and whispered that he could use a thousand bucks. What!? I don’t even know the guy, for pete’s sake. I mean, I say good morning to him most days, and he does collect my couriers for me and even send some couriers for me – but since when is that grounds to ask me for a thousand bucks!? I told him I didn’t have it, which was true, then I decided it was a weak answer and I told him, “no, I don’t do that.”


I’ve been stupid about money in the past. An old faithful domestic help had taken upwards of 15k from me. When we parted, on good terms, she still owed me 10k. She still owes me 10k. What’s worse is, really long ago, in the innocent days, I lent a colleague money. I think I lent him 7k – which, a decade ago, and at my income level in those days, was a small ransom. He didn’t give it back until things got ugly. It was only later that I – and a lot of others – realized that this chap was borrowing money left right and center and never giving it back to anyone. I was one of the lucky few who got it back, and that was only because I threatened him loudly and in public.


Then there was the flower girl in our old apartment complex. I had absolutely no relation with her whatsoever, considering that I don’t even buy flowers. Her only claim on me was that she happened to occupy the pavement two floors below my apartment. She appeared to believe that this made it incumbent upon me to lend her money. She had a story, of course – her son was sick, he needed medicine desperately, she hadn’t sold any flowers yesterday, ergo, no money, and if she didn’t get 500 bucks today, she couldn’t buy flowers for the day. Plausible, of course. Heart-wrenching, of course. Piled on with fast-flowing tears, of course. Amit – who is smarter than me in these things – said, “tell her we’ll buy the medicines for her son.” I didn’t do that, of course. I gave her the money. For months, she kept promising to give it back to me, but she never did.


It was probably that incident, more than any other, that made me a cynic. But, cynical or not, I remained stupid. I still gave my old faithful domestic help the loan she needed. And I still threw Rs 500 down the drain with the flower girl. So far I’ve managed not to be taken in by the people who wander around the streets of Bangalore wanting to know if you speak Hindi and then launching into a long litany of woes about lost purses and train tickets and whatnot. But basically, I’m a sucker for a long face and a sad tale.


Nowadays, though, the long face remains but the sad tale seems to be a dying art. The two people who’ve asked me for money in the last two days haven’t bothered with a story of any kind. Earlier, at least I felt they were appealing to some human element in me. Now, I’m apparently nothing more than a walking, talking ATM machine.

7 Responses to State Bank of India

  1. Vidya Sury says:

    😀 er… Mika….I COULD use a thousand bucks!! More if you like! Come on – you’ve got a choice – 1000 or more.

  2. Prakash says:

    We are not very far behind… It happens every two months! with our cleaner (my sister’s driver), our maid, our iron guy and many more!
    Sometimes, I don’t mind helping them if I have to sponsor a fees/buying a medicine etc. Sometimes, I feel sad that maids will anyway borrow money from a pawn broker who charges 2% per month or some exorbitant rate. Thankfully we have not lost money since most of the these people stayed with us long enough to recover it.

    I hope you are coming this Sat with lots of money 🙂

  3. Supriya says:

    🙂 It’s really hard to say no to money and leave requests. I hope to learn soon. I have lost 1.5K to a cook who left without notice, the first day of my joining back work. I still see her sometimes and feel such a fool for trusting her.

  4. Amit M. says:

    What with the petrol prices and bus fares going up, I could also do with a raise :-).

  5. poupee97 says:

    All: 🙂
    As I said earlier, at least bring on the sob stories, come on! I need some entertainment! I need something for my next post!

  6. Jiju says:

    I thought I was the only fool until we spoke about this. Now I can atleast reason with Arun saying that it has happened to Anamika too who doesn’t appear to be that bird-brained 🙂 . Our perceptions and their perceptions are entirely different. When they come to work with us, they expect to live exactly like we do. They forget the differences between the incomes and we try to accommodate them as much as we please so that we do not discriminate. But we do not try to live the same kind of lives our employers or bosses do..This root cause lies there and then it all starts….

  7. Arun says:

    there is this famous proverb saying “lending or borrowing spoils the friendship”.. may be you can use this tactics when people ask you.

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