A banker decides to keep his mind and office doors wide open to let in all kinds of experiences, along with customers who swarm around him. He also looks at the world at large beyond the myopic surroundings of accounts and targeted business. That is what George Joseph did and the result is a book ‘Padikal Irangum Neram,’ (Climbing Down the Steps), an authentic and hilarious account punctuated with philosophic observations of many life situations and lucidly written in engaging Malayalam.
George Joseph, who retired as Assistant General Manager of Federal Bank, has no tall claims as a writer. “I’ve seen life around in my perspective, but through the experiences and views of others,” he says.
Thus, the 117-page book has drawn a huge canvas, which is thought-provoking and can provide a few lessons to even an ordinary reader to cope with the challenges and adversities in life, besides pointing out the need for austerity and values in life.
“When I was working in a bank branch near Neyyatinkara, an elephant emerged on the compound and the mahout entered my cabin, straightaway demanding a ` 5-6 lakh IRDP loan,” George Joseph recalled. “What for?” he asked in surprise.
Instantly came the reply from the mahout: “I’m fed up with working for others. Why can’t I buy one elephant for myself?”
Through the amusing episode described in the book, the author stresses the transformation of the mindset of different sections of society to a progressive mould.
While he was serving at Vizhinjam, one day in the morning, when he opened the doors of his rented house, young George was amazed to see a huge fish dangled before him by a fisherman who had applied for a loan. The fisherman indeed thought that he could appease him with such a gift.
His observations while serving in New Delhi reach a different realm, like the possibility of hearing music emanating from the stomachs of moving cows which had chewed musical X’mas cards in bunch, often dumped by postmen on the wayside without delivering them to the addressee.
In another chapter, taking a critical look at the opulent marriages that he witnessed, the author also gives a message that the rich should have a consideration for the poor. ‘’All in society should remember that they are dependent on each other,” George Joseph says.
The bitter experiences and the flip side of individuals, the snobbish streak of society at large, the exploitation of the meek in North India and his umbilical relationship with his native village of Kumplampoika in eastern Pathanamthitta - all beckon the readers. That the author has treasured every experience -sweet and sour - in a continuous grooming process gives the book an earthy flavour.
As a man of targets, George Joseph completed the work in exactly one year, coinciding with his retirement from bank service on September 30, 2010. Along with his wife Elizabeth, he had co-authored a travelogue, ‘Veli Illatha Idangal,’ (Places Without Fence), on his one-month-long visit to the United States a few years ago.
Noted litterateur and Kerala Sahitya Akademi chairman Perumbadavam Sreedharan formally released the book at a function here on Thursday. Prof Lakshmi Kumari received the first copy. Dr V Prasannamani, former HOD of Malayalam, All Saints College, introduced the work. Dr D Benjamin, retired professor and head of the department of Malayalam, University of Kerala, presided over the function.
The title has been brought out by Prasakthi Book House.