JournalismPakistan.com March 08, 2013
The cheque is in the mail. These are considered to be the six nicest words in the English language second only to ‘I love you’. The sense of anticipation is tangible.
Except that it isn't quite as dependable as one would hope. For one the cheque can spend an inordinate time in the mail and you cannot complain to the sender because it is in the mail. That it can get lost, misplaced or simply snail pace its way to you is not their responsibility.
Cheques also have a cheese like texture in that they are processed. This is the standard statement you can be given when you make your inquiry. Processing has a timeless open-ended quality to it. So many factors have to come right in this delicate experiment that you can wait till the cows come home and the process of processing will still be proceeding.
Although in movies gangsters transfer millions of dollars with one phone call in milliseconds in real life your cheque from London to you in Dubai will take 34 days to reach you. Then your bank will send it back to London on another 34 day slow boat trip and you can whistle up the Thames because it will be nigh on month three before you see any cash. This is known as a modern banking system where your bank is user-friendly.
I have a great saga going on with cheques per se. No kidding, it actually happened exactly like this. I was in India a few days ago and I went to my bank where I have an NRO account (something that Indians living abroad have) but since I don't put magnificent sums of money in it I haven't used it for yonks and I now sign this pristine first time cheque and the man gives me a counter and then he opens a big book and gets up and goes to his boss and they both go to the section head (because he has a computer) and they huddle together and whisper and then they troop down to the Manager and he calls me in and tells me my signatures do not tally, there is a quantifiable difference in the last signature done in 1996 and this one done in Feb 2013 so I can't have the money.
But since they know me they say I can sign again and try. So I sign a different signature and it fails. The first five fail. By now the whole bank staff has gathered around and they are egging me on like go for it, but they cannot show me the original because it is against the law but I am getting warmer, better, much better but not yet good enough. Littttttle more, Sir, capital is not same, think, think, one more chance, that sort of stuff. By now the cheque has no place left so I am given a sheet of paper to try and the nice ones on staff are giving me clues.
Finally, on try 28 I get it…I have passed.
We go out to celebrate.
(The writer is a Senior Editorial Advisor of Khaleej Times and the paper’s former Editor. He has also been the Editor of Gulf News, Gulf Today, Emirates Today and Bahrain Tribune)
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