So I'm sitting in the manager's sputteringly airconditioned cubicle in a branch of a public sector bank. There are two other men in the room. One is the manager, sitting in a large chair. The other is the guy I'm supposed to see, to hand over my application form for internet banking at this institution. He's busy trying to send a fax, so the manager asks me to sit until he's done.
On the desk in front of me -- right below my nose, in fact -- is a sheet of paper. Forgive me, someone up there (if you are up there), but I can't help glancing at it as I sit there. It's a "travel expenses claim form", filled by the guy I'm waiting to speak to. It's for travel expenses incurred on three days that he stayed late to "attend to system maintenance problems". This guy seems to be the resident computer Mr Fixit.
Anyway. In his handwriting, the form says "Train fair [sic] from office to home"; the amount he claims is Rs 316 per day, for a total of Rs 948, though he has totalled it to Rs 949.
Just as I'm wondering where he might live in this city that he has to pay Rs 316 for a train journey there, the man finishes sending the fax. The manager reaches across the desk, picks up the sheet and swivels around in his chair to face him. In Marathi, he says: "You can't write that amount!"
Just as I'm silently applauding the manager for catching what looks like a seriously inflated claim, he goes on: "Look, I'll give you the numbers you can write." And on the back of the form, he writes down three numbers: 186, 194 and 197.
In all this, both men are oblivious to my presence.
"You'll have to choose one of those," the manager says. "Put any one of them down on the form and give it back," he goes on, "and I'll approve it."