JournalismPakistan.com October 5, 2013
These colorful, warm, friendly ads where banks offer the great unwashed masses loans to make a better life choke me with emotion.
You get the good feeling that someone cares. Housing, cars, personal loans, educational loans, loans on earlier loans all offered by your friendly, next door banker who gets up in the morning and has his corn flakes sloshed over with the milk of human kindness.
The ads fill me with wonderment. Look, how understanding they are. No payback for three months, low interest rates, easy installments, making your dreams come true, zillion times your salary, migoodness, who says financial institutions don't have a heart.
So visibly moved, many of us scamper off to the bank in the hope that life will now get a spring in its step. Not that one expects music and red carpets and sprinklings of rose water upon entry but you are looking forward to the warmth of the reception. The ads said that, they called me a valued customer. I am big on valued customer. In fact, being a valued customer is the tiger in my tank.
What you get is forms. And more forms. And a slew of questions that make the Spanish Inquisition look like a romp in the park. Where has love gone, what happened to the 'wouldn't it be lovely' content of the ad. These guys here obviously don't read their own publicity. They are cold and all sneery and lip curling, if you get my drift.
Now they want guarantees and letters from the company, from the chairman, the IMF, the current US president (certifying to your character) from your great grandparents, they want salary certificates, they want a pound of flesh and so what if there are splashes of blood and sweat on the walls.
Not just that but you have this fond idea that the loan you apply for will be available to you in the evening and the wife and children are already getting dressed and ready for the bonanza. Even the neighbors know you are in for a windfall.
And here is this man telling you that your papers will now have to be processed. What is this processed stuff? I have filled in the application, haven't I, your ad said, simple, easy, no sweat, go for it, we are there to help you, so then why am I being treated like the first choice suspect for the Boston Strangler and what's with the delay.
Two weeks, two weeks, you never said that, you said, realize your dreams today, here read it, tooooo-daaaaaaaay!!!
And the chasm gets wider by the minute, this great big gap between the promise and the reality.
I am thinking, why can't we have real, honest, the way it is ads so that the less brilliant among us don't tell the neighbors and then get upstaged and squashed at the same time.
So, what I would like to see is a bank ad that says:
Look, you horrible, poverty stricken nobodies, we don't really give a toss about you but, we do have this scheme where we give you some money so that we can charge you huge sums of interest, but before we do that we tar and feather you and tie you up in legal knots and make you sign your life away and once we have you in a corner then we chase you and hound you even if you are one day late in repayment and we call you in the house, in the office, on the mobile and freeze your accounts and make you cringe with humiliation and leave messages with your colleagues so your neighbors know and after we have battered you, you get the money and you can canter off and realize your silly little middle class dreams. And we can now dick you over forever and a day...and more.
(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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