Last night, after a very stimulating discussion on different things (more about this in another post) with some very conscious people over dinner, I was heading back home when there was a posse of traffic cops on the left side of the road arbitrarily stopping vehicles and doing some checking.
You see this happening quite often in Hyderabad these days. A group of traffic cops on one side. The junior guys stopping vehicles at random and checking on things like seat belts, license, registration book etc. The senior guys standing a little distance away leaning against their vehicles writing out the 'challans'. They pick on a spot and then set collection targets - over the table and under the table!
I myself have been accosted quite a few times recently for not wearing my seat belt. Which might be a good thing. I usually pay a fine and leave. Some of the more brazen cops suggest that I can hand them a hundred bucks and I will not have to pay an official fine. I have guiltily acquiesced on more than one occasion. Well, I have my shortcomings.
So yesterday, one of them standing right in the middle of the road signaled me to pull over. I did. He came up to me and came so close to my mouth while asking, "Alcohol piye?" that I thought he had an inbuilt breath detector that could guage the level of alcohol in my breath. "Nahin", I answered.
"License?" I opened my dashboard and started sifting through the innumerable papers in there. I was certain I would not have it. I almost gave up hope when suddenly the red colored bound license caught my eye and I hurriedly pulled it out and showed it to him.
"Ye aapka hai?" What kind of a question was that? "Haan mera hai." He was probably surprised to see my license because it was one of those old non digital licenses, the ones that are the size of an A4 paper and have all the details written manually in the worst possible handwriting. Not the swanky new ones which are the size of a credit card.
"RC?" The cop was now getting agitated. He was trying everything to get his hands on a hundred rupee note or maybe more.
I had gained in confidence by then. I found the RC in a second and gave it to him.
"Oh 2004 ka registration hai?" he exclaimed as if he was surprised that he had actually found a car registered in 2004. How could a car be possibly registered in 2004? That was the tone of his voice. I said "Haan, kyon?" He shook his head in response.
By now, he could sense that I was winning the battle. He then took out what he thought was his trump card. "Pollution?", he said with a smug look on his face. I could almost hear him say to himself, "Got him finally".
"Not so soon buddy", I almost blurted out. Without a word, I pointed to the green pollution certificate on the back of my rear view mirror. I was totally covered.
"Ok" the cop sighed, the feeling of defeat engulfing him totally. He signaled me to carry on.
I never felt as good as I did when I drove away from the place.