They are back in business, I cried out in disdain on reaching home. Who? Asked the folks at home in unison, the hotels, they asked knowing only too well my ardent and fanatic interest in food. I said No, then the mom and pop stores? came the bass voice, I nodded my head sideways, remembering Gabriel Iglesias, on his observation and scrutiny of Indian mannerisms! Then it must be the malls and multiplexes, exclaimed another, I could only hear the voice as the head was buried deep in his tab!
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The brood in the house were both amused and perplexed at my quizzical and mocking expressions and soon enough turned snappy at my prolonged silence…..
Each time, I see the star -spangled men in white patrolling the streets of Bengaluru, paranoia hits me hard, more out of anticipation of being flagged down, an exercise carried out unwavering time and again! They are the morbid villains in my city jaunts, victimized for no fault of mine, the last phrase said emphatically without batting an eyelid. It irks me to no extent that I fall prey to their random confrontations and accosts, even when I am driving with caution well within the speed limits (one can never even think of that with the humongous bumper to bumper traffic), not jumping the signals, never trying to overtake vehicles from the left, or entering a one way lane, or not in the wildest dream trying to intimidate and bully others with my SUV or honking for no rhyme or reason! Then why am I being buttonholed? I have a clean and unsullied track record with no traffic violations, no drunken driving, no street brawls with fellow drivers! The scene is nothing but pathetic, I plead, I beseech, I explain that I did no wrong in not so chaste kannada, watching the smirks on their faces, then it transcends to the next level, gloves off, I cross swords quoting from the archaic laws and acts, the language reduced to shambles without any syntax and grammar. Muttering, murmuring, swearing under my breath, I fish out the demanded documents, the RC, the DL, the EC, insurance papers, all faithfully renewed by my hubby to the burly corpulent officers. Seeing that the papers are in order, the portly men in white with looks of disgust, as their plans have been thwarted, wave me off! While I pick up the documents with beads of perspiration on my face, throat going bone dry, pulsating, pounding and palpitating heart, and ants in my pants, I catch a fleeting glimpse of the aides screaming “pull over” to more hapless victims.
My commute to and from home and work is necessarily through the National Highway and the ‘Interceptor’ with speed guns, strategically stationed is the next absurd and ludicrous sight. They are spotted, but not like the wildlife enthusiasts spotting the diminishing tigers in the forest, at the same place and time, day after day, with a posse of police in different ranks as each of them have a role to play in the catch. The stick wielding, whistle blowing lower order are the ones who ensure that the fast and the furious are flagged down with a flourish, the next thing that one hears are the screeching tyres and smell of burning rubber as these road ragers faithfully follow the luminescent lit jackets hypnotized. As they come out of the trance, the officers lead their eyes to the clever and calculated positioning of the speed limit sign board much to the annoyance of the speedsters! Then the cycle of plead, ignorance, argue and give up happens before soon emptying their wallets coughing up an exorbitant fine. Well, arguably, the men in a hurry do deserve this but the ones who overshoot the max limit by a whisker, are the sad sacks bearing the brunt of the so called benefactors of the law! On the other side of the fence, the car manufacturers are making merry with cruise control and other contraptions as add ons to hold back the zippers who step on the gas!
But I wonder, can someone keep treading on the same rake, whacking the blunderer on the face, a la Tom and Jerry style, don’t the officers realize that positioning the interceptor at the same location does not yield the desired results, as a dog returns to his vomit, so a fool repeats his folly! Praying fervently as I approach these danger zones to be not pulled over and on the rarest of rare occasions that this benevolence does happen, I vow to avenge the anxiety attack by looking at the officers on their faces, standing like David pitted against Goliath, point at their badges, launch a harangue at their inefficiencies and persecution and seek redemption from their harassment, to see them in better light as protectors who provide a sense of security!
The covid lockdown did see a lull in these ‘collections’, the streets stripped of its vehicles, barren and the cops for a change channelizing their energy to a better cause, making dedicated lanes for the BMTC buses with bold sign boards for cross roads and exits, on certain hotspots of the city. The saving grace for the traffic department are these well thought of actions that can regulate the mayhem on the roads.
But now they are back…
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