It was suddenly that Gregory shot into limelight. People thought he was something of a prodigy, for he had been promoted as Deputy General Manager in the bank he worked for, at the young age of forty-three (We are talking of a public sector bank!) That was when he had put in twenty-three years’ service. The average age at which people reached that level was forty-eight, after putting in service for about twenty-seven years.
On promotion, he was deputed to another bank in the same group. He reported to the CEO of the bank he was sent to. After exchanging pleasantries, the new boss spent some time with him to ascertain is strong points and interests. The tete-a-tete would enable him to decide which portfolio the young Gregory was to be assigned.
At the end of the thirty minutes, rounding off the interaction, the chief asked, ‘We don’t seem to have met earlier, do we?
Gregory replied, ‘Sir, we have met. In fact, you were the one who taught us credit appraisal in 1970 in the Staff College in Hyderabad during our intermediate course.’
The Staff College was run by the holding company for the benefit of their staff as well as those of the subsidiaries. And the faculty was, predictably, drawn from the holding company.
‘Let me see,’ he replied. After reflecting for a moment, he said,’ Yes, I was indeed a faculty in the Staff College from 1969 to 1972.’
‘... But I do not remember your face one bit…’ he said, adding, ‘Tell me the names of some of the others who were there along with you in your batch?’
‘There was Bishen Singh Bedi, the test cricketer.’
‘Yes, Bedi was there in one of the batches I taught credit appraisal to.’
‘There was M G Ramakrishna.’
‘Oh, he was a smart guy, but he left us and joined one of the Arab banks. Last heard, he was CEO of the Indian arm of that bank.’
‘Ashok Dhar was another in my batch.’
‘Yes, the tall guy from Kashmir? I think he is in Toronto on a foreign posting.’
‘And K S Subramaniam’
‘The chap who was an IPS probationer. He has just been posted to the Staff College.’
‘Jayashree Venkitaramani was with us too.’
‘The one who was a journalist? She is the AGM (Public Relations) at the Central Office.’
He seemed to be a veritable walking encyclopaedia of the whereabouts of officers. Either this man is blessed with incredible memory or he keeps a close tab of people, I thought.
He seemed to have read my thoughts. ‘Personnel Department at the Central Office used to report to me in my last posting,’ he said, implying that this explains the mystery.
Before Gregory could name the next, he said, ‘They are all from one bank; tell me the names of some from your own bank.’
‘Yes, Maj Kumar, if you remember.’
‘Oh yes, he was a short service commissioned officer. Extremely smart. Used to be a ladies’man. Where is he now?’
‘He is Chief Manager in a branch.’ (That was a couple of levels below DGM.) ‘And there was Suresh Kapoor.’
‘He has not been too lucky in is career. He is languishing in an even lower rank.’
‘I see. Who else?’
‘Oh, the one who was nicknamed ‘The evangelist’? He was a powerful speaker. His way with words must have taken him to great heights, I’m sure.’
‘No, sir, he missed promotions a couple of times. Disenchanted, he quit.’
‘There was a guy, an engineer, with a receding hairline. He used to play great tennis.’
‘You mean Ramesh Bhargava?’
‘Yes, that’s the name. Who can forget his witty one-liners? I have spent many a delightful evening with him. He must be GM by now?’
‘He got into trouble because of some bad loans and is under suspension.’
‘No mala fides, I hope.’
‘None, he’ll come out of it.’
The boss sat back and remarked, ‘Surprising that I seem to know every one that you mentioned, but I just do not recollect you one bit. You must have been a lacklustre guy!