Friday, August 24, 2012

Cheque books ? What are they ?!

I have never had a cheque book, ever.

My first bank account was in India, naturally a joint account with my parents and they took care of everything. When I came to Germany in 2003 and opened my account, I had the wonderful world of online banking. All my expenses - rent, insurance, credit card etc. were set up in such a way that they were automatically debited from my account on specific dates every month. If I had to transfer money to anyone, I did it online. I had a debit/ATM card for everything else. All I had to do was login to my bank account once a week to make sure the transactions were correct and that I was not overdrawn.

Then came my first trip to the US in 2006 and everybody was writing everybody else cheques ! People were dropping off rent cheques, asking me to pay them in cheques and I didn't get it ! They were amazed that I didn't have a cheque book ! I was amazed that their banking system was still in ''stone age'' - I mean, writing a cheque, going to the landlord's place and giving him that in exchange of money is almost akin to the barter system.

Then I noticed, they were everywhere - Seinfeld, Raymond and Rachel were talking about them (they even made complete epsiodes with ''cheques'') and I was wondering how I missed the ''cheque wave''.

I wondered too soon because I opened a NRO account in India and got my first cheque book yesterday. I told appa about it and he went on and on about how I should ''write neatly'' (which in itself is an impossible task for someone like me who types the grocery list), ''cross'' it, make sure that my signature corresponds exactly to the ''sample'' the bank has (is that even possible ? I mean try signing twice on the same paper and see if they match exactly !) and finally make a note of the cheque number and other details before using the cheque. It sounded simpler to fly to India, meet the person in question and give him cash !

So now there is a book in my house that I would probably never use but safely store as an ''artifact'' to remember fondly that I once owned a cheque book, a never-going-to-be-used cheque book.
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