Friday, February 24, 2012

Mumbai Mumbles : Cops love Gandhi?!!

This Monday was going to be a long day.   From Thane in the north of Mumbai, to Lower Parel in the south and back to Kandivili, it was one heck of a drive - almost 100 Km!  

Morning:  I hopped on to my friend's car for the drive along the Eastern Express Highway.  We reached the Dadar-Lower Parel signal,  we were to go straight, but instead ended up in the lane that turned right.   The lane was empty.  So we waved at the cop, who did not allow us to move to the left.  

Incident 1: Cop took
money and did not pay
receipt
Few seconds later, we moved ahead and around with the left indicator on.   A senior cop appeared and said that we had violated the traffic rule for lane-cutting.   We were asked to park aside.   The cop asked for the original license.  My friend had only a photocopy.   The cop asked us to pay 100 Rs for not carrying original license, and another 100 for lane cutting. 

We paid in cash and asked for receipt.  The officer was baffled.  He told that the officer had gone to the other side of the traffic signal and he had the receipt book.  We said we will wait.  He became fidgety and said that it would take more time.  We retorted that we will wait for the receipt.  About 10 minutes passed. He become increasingly nervous and returned the photocopy and the 200 Rs back.  We smiled and left.

Clearly he was banking on us to move on, but blinked when we stood our ground.  More than the traffic violation, the soft trick of the cop stayed in my mind. 

Incident 2: The driver flung a
10 Rs note at the cop
Evening: The second incident, happened late in the evening.   We were driving back to Kandivili via Ghodbunder road.  At the naka ( junction),  there was a traffic pile up.   The reason was that cop had done a naka bandi ( stop-and-check).   Most of the vehicles were on hi-beam. 

One of the cops from the sideline tried to stop a lorry.  The muddy-shabby looking lorry slightly increased speed as the cop approached.   And suddenly a 10 Rs leaf appeared in the air - swirling in the air towards the ground.   The cop tried to catch it, but a whiff of wind blew it away from him.   He desparately tried to get hold of the floating note and in the process came right in front of my car.  

With the hi-beam on, it was a pathetic sight.   The cop took about 30 seconds to bring the 10 Rs note under his control.  He was flailing his arms desperately to get hold of it and trying to hold back the traffic.  

My heart sank.   If at all, there was some feeling, it was anger against the impunity of the lorry-driver who flung his bribe, but slowly it turned into a sickening feeling churning the underbelly.

Why are cops so desperate in pocketing money?   I have seen other instances of thrust-and-pocket operations between errant drivers and cops.

Ideally, the traffic cop's job is to uphold traffic and civic sense among people.  But in reality, out there on these streets - standing the pollution, managing unobliging public, being paid low - the traffic cop clearly has one of the most hazardous, hostile and hapless jobs on earth.   They have collection targets and are the Munnabhai's for their superiors.  

So, between the idealism and reality, are they right, for developing a soft love for Gandhi - who smiles from the 10 and 100 Rs notes?  How do I explain this to my kid, who saw all the action during that evening? 

I just told my kid - 'Cops love Gandhi'.  He smiled, but not sure, if he understood it.

-The One

( Pics Courtesy Internet)

Disclaimer: These are real life incidents.   This is no attempt to demean the cop fraternity.   The One salutes the bravehearts who weather the tough climate,public and make our road-life better in all ways possible.

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