Tuesday, May 16, 2006

What a catch!

It was a pleasant Sunday late-morning. After my stomach raised its request for a feed-in, I decided not to cook, but to go out and have a nice lunch. Towards that objective, I called up my friend, and after he willingly accepted my proposal for luncheon, I could sense my stomach was pretty satisfied.

The roads were what one may call as empty even going by Bangalore standards, and I drove at a leisurely pace down the Airport Road. I was, overall, in a good mood, and looking forward to nice lunch, as was my stomach. When I took a turn at one of the cross-roads, I could sense a pothole being created in my stomach, which was a reaction caused by eyes sending visuals of certain professionals, called as traffic police. I had enjoyed the unique status of being 'clean' for last three years, before, the fate decided to change it.

I obediently drove into the trap.

Without being asked, I opened my wallet, and looked for my driving license. It was there, fortunately. Last time when a traffic police had stopped me, I had got away by just showing this license and asking for directions to a certain shop. This wouldn't work this time, as the policeman was least interested in the license, and/or its validity. I guess he didn't even bother to verify I was the person whose photo was attached to the almost-torn paper.

"Where is the insurance?," Mr P demanded.

"I have paid my premium, and they have sent it by post. But I haven't received it yet though," I started with my poor attempt at explanation (cause-effect approach), which failed.

"Do you have the insurance papers or not?"

"No, but I have paid the premium,"

"Where is the pollution certificate?"

Now I knew I did not have one, and there was no reason to offer.

"I haven't got one," a slight smile seemed to appear on Mr P's face.

"OK, the fine is 700/- if you pay here, or Rs 500/- if you want to pay in the court."

I had no choice but to pay then and there. I couldn't afford to travel all the way to the court the next day to see a judge who would be least interested in knowing where I work.

"OK, I'll pay if you give me a receipt for that" I clarified any doubts in Mr P's mind as far as a petty bribe was concerned. Obviously, he did not like my reply.

"Yeah, you will get receipt for that, what did you think of me!"

OK, having agreed to pay the fine, I was asked to march towards the fine collector - a lady traffic inspector. And what a fine lady she turned out to be! She wore dark glasses, and had a very stiff voice, details of which I will describe further.

"Tell her what you have done," asking me to confess, Mr P left - in search of another victim, of course.

"M'm I do not have a copy of my insurance policy and I have to do a pollution test."

"That will be 700 Rs."

"OK, can I see a rule sheet for that one?"

"What I'll do, I'll write out a receipt for 500 Rs, go and pay in the court," she was totally angry at my reply. I was questioning the reason behind the fine.

"hey - there is no reason to be angry M'm,"

"I am not angry, my voice is like that only," I thought I'll accept that excuse, and continued,

"OK, but why can't I see the rule-book?"

"Tell you what son, we have the fine numbers at tips of our fingers, and we don't keep any rule-sheet as such. It's there at office" I thought of stealing a look at her fine finger-tips, but then decided it was not a very good idea.

"OK, I also have my insurance papers at home. Will you take that?"

She was totally amused by the answer, and so was another policeman who was following our dialogue. He seemed to burst out with a laughter. But he didn't if I remember correctly.

Then she dragged me into another longish conversation in which I played the part of a noble subject of the State of India, and she played the part of a noble protector of law, etc. etc.

At last she thought I may have 'connections' with her boss' son-in-law, and explicitly told me,

"I won't get any medal for collecting a fine of 700 from you, will I?"

"I decided to drop the "certainly" from my reply, and just nodded a "no".

"And remember this - I am not lowering the fine because you asked me for the rule-book, the rules are the same, but I can sense that you are telling me the truth."

"M'm there is no reason for lying to you --"

"I know I know, so I'll lower your fine,"

"OK," I gulped the "fine" expression and just said, "how much, then?"

I was let off after paying three hundred rupees. After receiving a proper receipt for the same, I sealed the deal off by a polite thank you, which the lady inspector graciously accepted. The receipt for the fine was valid for the next twenty four hours, which has by now passed. And I have not yet done the pollution test on my dear vehicle. Maybe I should do that soon.

Can't help but admire! What a fine lady that. No?

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