Given the exhaustive process the system goes through, The Man from Madras Musings has always wondered at the way credit card companies lament about defaulters. In all his innocence, MMM thought that these due diligence assessments are done by gimlet-eyed detectives who can identify a potential fraudster with ease. But the process of verification (or verivification as MMM has heard it referred to) is so ham-handed that MMM is fairly certain that it is done with only one objective – to irritate the applicant.

MMM has all along been happy with just one credit card. He is not one of those men who have wallets bulging with plastic money. But came a day when having seen an advertisement for a new card, MMM succumbed. He duly filled in the form and signed at as many as 57 different places on it. At the end of it, the tied and heavily cologned representative smiled and assured MMM that that was all and the card would be on its way after a simple verification. Little did MMM know that he was embarking on something that would make Odysseus journeys simple in comparison.

It all began with a phone call where the caller, after wishing MMM a ‘very good morning’, asked MMM’s name. This after having begun the call with the words ‘Very good morning Mr MMM’. A day later came yet another call that wanted to have MMM’s address. MMM had just given the door number when the caller rang off, having thanked him for the information. A day later came yet another call, asking for the street name. When MMM asked as to why the caller of the previous day could not have taken down this information, there was a stunned silence at the other end as though nobody had ever thought of this.

A couple of days later, when MMM was out earning his daily bread, there was a fourth call. The caller, this time a stentorian male voice, wanted to know ‘at least two prominent landmarks’ near MMM’s house. When asked why, the voice said it was on its way to call on MMM and was actually on the road where MMM’s house stood but could not locate the building. When MMM replied that he was not at home just then, the voice was disappointed. Meeting MMM was apparently the ambition of a lifetime for the voice and by not being at home, MMM had clearly broken the voice’s heart. When MMM asked rather tartly if the voice expected MMM to be at home at all hours, the voice rang off without an explanation.

The last straw was the fifth caller. This one after having cheerily wished MMM a ‘very good morning’ asked MMM if he was sure of all the facts that he had furnished in the application form. It then said it, the voice, was bound by rules to get verbal confirmation from MMM for a few random entries in the form. MMM asked it to go ahead. The first question, without the batting of an eyelid, was whether MMM had entered the ‘correct father’s name’.