Madam - cash machines are special

So, one of the things you learn fairly quickly in India when you arrive from other seas is that, as a Brazilian pal put it to me:

Cash machines are kind of special places.

They’re almost always installed as standalone machines in their own special little rooms. Sometimes this is even it’s own purpose built little building.

They have their own air conditioning and they often have their own dedicated security guard. This poor soul is usually bored rigid, but he does get to sit about in the air conditioning (or occasionally just outside the door). Presumably he’s there to ensure that no-one does anything untoward with the machine. Or I suppose,  just possibly make sure that no-one is mugged while getting money out. Though I suspect it’s really much more for the machine.

The machines themselves manage to look like something from the 1970s. Except of course I don’t think we had ATMs then, did we?

But the styling is pure retro. Even the screens are sometimes still green text affairs. Imagine!

Often you dont’ instert your card all the way in, but slide it in and pull it out sharply. This has the advantage that the machine can’t swallow your card (as it hasn’t actually got it), but it does mean that you often have to put it in a few times before it can read your chip.

The really weird thing about them – or about banks over here really – is that my standard current account. The one that my salary is paid into and I have a cheque book and credit card for… isn’t a current account at all. No, it’s a savings account.

This is normal here, but it confused the hell out of me when I first opened the account. I remember the horrible sinking feeling of not being able to log into my account – the one I’d just been paid into, the one that should have had all my cash in it… Thankfully an expat colleague was on hand to whisper – ‘try ‘savings’ account’. Phew.

At least I was in the embrace of aggressive airconditioning at that point. So my brow was unsticky. They keep those little ATM rooms really, really cold.


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