My mind was made up. I would not waste a day more in approaching the neighbourhood bank for a loan of Rs 5 crores. But I was not too sure if the bank would as readily make up its mind about my creditworthiness with such a large sum. How would I know that, I thought, unless I took the first step. All my life I had been following the principle "neither a borrower nor a lender be", so I was ignorant of the ways to charm your lender about your creditworthiness.
Bankers are neat, tidy people. Bedecked in their three piece suits they take naturally to those so dressed. So I took out my best suit -a little frayed in places, but to be fair, it had not kept pace with the fast changing pace fashion. But it stood for stability, mocking the fickle mindedness of my colleagues who seemed to change their suits half a dozen times every winter.
Whatever. Dressed in my faux Armani I presented myself before the manager who was making huge efforts to look pleasant and personable, though I could sense that he had sniffed me with his banker’s nose that I was an interloper. He made me sit. I thought he had no option – the three chairs in front of him were all vacant!
Without any further ceremony he talked business. Without any ceremony I stated my purpose – I wanted a loan of Rs 5 crores. He just stared at me. Then he took out a neatly folded handkerchief, wiped the nonexistent beads of sweat from his brow and asked with an exaggerated – almost faux politeness, (good Lord he had definitely seen thorough my faux Armani) -"What do you do, sir?" "I am a retired police officer and I draw a pension of Rs 80,000 per month".
He stared at me longer, harder and with more venom.
"Before we get to the other details sir, what will you do with this huge sum? You said you had retired?"
"I want to buy a Hummer."
He looked quite uncomprehendingly at me now, doubting my sanity.
"I said it is not an impulsive decision, it is not a fad. I have given it days of careful thought .You see; actually my first choice was an ocean liner. But it would have been very expensive and quite beyond my means. But even if I had the means there was still the problem of berthing facilities, the uneven depths would require a proper channel to be dug up. Quite expensive! Then I thought of an amphibian vehicle. But that would have raised the hackles of the buggers in Intelligence Bureau and who knows even the CIA might have shown interest. Who wants trouble with these paranoid cops?"
I could see his face getting contorted with impatience or incomprehension I could not tell but it looked like he was going to get a stroke. I wanted to give some more details only to convince him that I was not a loony bugger lately escaped from the asylum.
Sensing that he was in some distress I stopped. After considerable time and effort he barked at me at an almost subsonic level. "What the hell is a Hummer and why do you want it?"
"Oh I see. I have a Maruti 800 so I want to buy a Hummer. I have heard that it is the sturdiest heavy duty SUV or whatever and with its high chassis it can clear any obstacles. Some of my loan will go to buy the vehicle and the rest to get it periodically filled up, what with the prices of petrol going up by the hour, one has to be well provided for. Dhoni owns one such SUV."
He still looked puzzled. Dear me! I should have told him. "Well my house is in the Gandhi Vihar Colony, in Patna. Now don’t tell me, you don’t know where Patna is. Amitabh Bachchan was here recently and the sheer beauty of the city sent him into raptures. The word is that Joseph Stieglitz who came here for a visit made enquiries about a suitable property. Patna is likely to overtake Paris in terms of beauty and grandeur and the mayor of Paris is already feeling threatened; he is keenly studying the pattern of construction and destruction in the city. It rekindled the hopes of the likes of Lord Nicholas Stern, professor of Economics, London School of Economics, as a model for urban renewal and regeneration. Never mind that it gets inundated even when it just threatens to rain. And if it actually does then it is deluge. I have my house there so I am supposed to go there, aren’t I?"
He lost his cool. "Living in Patna you dream of an existence free of water logging. Next you will come up for buying a garbage disposal truck because garbage doesn’t get cleaned up. You may like to buy an incinerator, or build a brand new power station for yourself because there is no electricity. You better go to the moon. There are no problems of water logging there, none of garbage disposal."
I was quick to catch the symbolism of my banishment to moon. He was convinced I was touched in some corner of my head and to escape me he seemed ready to throw himself out of the window. I reluctantly made a move.
But I still have the problem at hand. Perpetual problem! If by some miracle, at some future date the stagnant pool of water does dry up (Well if the Ganges can, cannot the pool around my house?) there will be the piles of garbage and construction rubble. Inspired by Ferrari Kee Sawari an incipient but passing thought crossed my mind "Shall I steal Dhoni’s Hummer?"
Immediately the former police officer in me caught the momentarily way ward law abiding citizen by the scruff of his collar. I am still waiting at the bank to hitch a ride back home, on my private island, from some lucky guy in a Scorpio.
India Today magazine once referred to Manoje Nath, a 1973-batch IPS officer, as being fiercely independent, honest, and upright. Besides his numerous official reports on various issues exposing corruption in the bureaucracy in Bihar, Nath is also a writer extraordinaire expressing his thoughts on subjects ranging from science fiction to the effects of globalization. His sense of humor was evident through his extremely popular series named "Gulliver in Patiliputra" and "Modest Proposals" that were published in the local newspapers.