Today is 22nd July, a landmark day as far as I am concerned, because it proved to be a game changer as far my life is concerned.
I was rather fresh university pass out with very little professional experience when I joined State Bank of Bikaner & Jaipur on 22nd July 1985, which unfortunately is a redundant entity having merged with colossal SBI, as a Probationary Officer, a respectable and well sought after service in civil life. Alas, the first experience was none too pleasant, with my first branch being one of the notorious branches of New Delhi! I felt suffocated, regretting my decision to join SBBJ in preference to another Bank, whose offer was also simultaneously available to me! However, come October and were invited to the training centre at Jaipur for almost month long induction programme. Here I was exposed for the first time to people from all over – Orissa, Bihar, Bengal, Assam, South apart from Delhi- a mix of scholarly, erudite and interesting fellows. Not that we struck an immediate camaraderie; there were groups, sub groups, factions, which is not uncommon when people with vastly different backgrounds come together for the first time! We also, for the first time, met our seniors, who were vastly different from the crowd we were exposed to at our branches. Beautiful city of Jaipur added to the quality of our experience.
Fast forward to 2018 i.e 33 years later, I am drenched in nostalgia remembering good times that we had, especially during our first congregation in October 1985. The batch is not even half the original size. A few left within the first couple of years for greener pastures like IAS and SBI. When the Govt. decided to liberalise licensing of new banks, a host of new generation private sector banks took birth, more significant amongst them being Axis Bank, then known as UTI Bank. It’s founder CMD was the then MD of SBI, who had earlier headed SBBJ too. There was, therefore, an efflux of officials across grades from SBBJ to UTI that included the writer of this blog. Life continued till social media gave an opportunity to bring us together once again after a long hiatus.
Today professionally each one of us may be different- some are in private sector banks, some have migrated to other countries, some continue to have their tryst with SBI. Several of us are in different cadres, with one of us recently having been named to head a nationalised Bank. One of us has superannuated, one opted for early retirement, while most others will be doing so in next 2 to 4 years. One of us has died too. A few of us have their children doing very well and I have become a grandfather too! But when we are together on common platform, nothing matters – professional achievement, personal wealth, geographic location. Only thing that matters is that a relationship that started 33 years ago has only got stronger and stronger and while we shall start retiring, becoming feeble with age, having Alzheimer’s or what not and ultimately dying, we will always cherish those moments that we once spent together.