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Saturday, May 20, 2017

Banking For The Illiterate

I spent the morning explaining to the illiterate domestic help that her bank passbook (she had asked me to photocopy) is incomplete and how, in spite of the fact she can't read, she can identify whether the credits and the balance match or not by crudely measuring the width of the columns. It's not the best way but I showed her how a 'thin' column of 400 rupees can't become suddenly 'wide' to accommodate 13000 when the credit column in between is as 'narrow'' as 10 rupees. Because she is illiterate she gives her money to her nephew to deposit in the bank. I asked her why she doesn't ask her daughter who is literate. "She's only a girl," was her answer. Mom-in-law urged her to send her daughter to the bank instead of the nephew so she could learn banking. I insisted that she go on her own to ask the officials to record the transactions. She hesitated. I pointed to my cook who is also illiterate but has a mental record of every transaction she has made, so much so that she can intimidate bank officials.

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