A woman in her late 30’s drinks lassi, no sugar, as the words of her companion prompt unexpected laughter.
Across the road Bank One sits with quiet menace. That is her mission for the afternoon, conquering that place, that building of glorified cash, to open her first Nepali bank account.
The “how to” rumours of dealing with the Nepali banking system vary from the typical red tape jumping of life to the downright ridiculous.
To get a Student Visa in Nepal you need to get a bank account, to get a bank account as a foreigner with Bank One you need a Student Visa or other resident visa status. Having a local guarantor makes no difference to the head of Customer Relations. Having documentation from your Government saying you have permission study doesn’t matter an iota. Explaining the contradictory manner of their policy which stops them having more foreign customers who want to bank with them, she gives not one tot.”No, it doesn’t and will not effect our business.”
A tautological discussion of this nature goes on for around 20 to 30 minutes. And after queuing for a good 30 minutes before this the woman is done. She kindly asks the Head Customer Service Officer one last time if there is a possible solution. “Yes, go, go to another Bank.”
The woman does. On the suggestion of another ex-pat the woman visit’s Bank Two and within 20 minutes has a bank account, a laugh with the staff taking her through the process and an assurance she will be looked after as other friends have said though they are a new bank they are okay.
All up just over two hours to open a bank account isn’t bad, actually it is down right good, but that conversation of circles with the Head of Customer Relations is telling of something amiss here.
But the woman doesn’t care, she has her bank account and is a step further in getting her visa to study arts for a few months. Leaving Bank Two she quietly wanders down the splashy humid streets to rejoin her companion.