Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Cost of 'living on the fast lane'.

  • 1USD = Rupees (rs.) 44
  • One thai red curry with steamed rice in the top thai place in Bangalore & coke = Rs. 600
  • Hearty meal in a road-side Dhaba = Rs. 55-00
  • Survival meal road-side = Rs. 15-00

What's the cost of traffic violations in your city? Would you know? Not many of my friends do. And why should they? For they never violate... or maybe, they never get caught. I know, if you belong to a city, you almost always know where the police like to stand for their checks and when. Which turn, behind which big tree, when do they stagger and so forth. Its typically the out-of-state kids often with their out-of-state number plate bikes who get ensnared. And in Bangalore there are enough of them to fill the police coffers. Or maybe the fines in general are rather low?

I don't support traffic violations... but will be a liar if I said I have not committed them. Today, I feel pride in following the rules. Or is it because I got a car and enough money to do things the right way... unlike when we are kids... always running low on fuel & savings?

I have been caught once for drunken driving. That was just after I had bought my motorcycle... and that was many years ago in Bangalore. Of course now with a car, the chances of being stopped is far less... so it is. When I was stopped, the traffic policemen asked me if I had drunk any alcohol. And I proudly & ignorantly confirmed, " yes... one beer". And he gladly directed me to take position on the pavement, alongwith the rest of the sulking young guys - some really drunk ... some just confused. One couple, who were in the 'ring', told me that they had only one glass of wine each, and never thought that meant drinking... And we all, some 10 of us, waited there together for the next one hour so that the police could collect enough of us criminals to take to the station. Soon, we were telling each other how we were quite nice people otherwise or why we were not qualified to be booked. And as we managed to slowly rationalise and become a group with a common cause our self esteem managed to adjust itself somewhat back to acceptable levels. It was around 11:30 in the night.

In this period they stopped a van from within which came out these two paunchy and absolutely pissed drunk men. They were surely rich and the ugly kind of rich. The police asked them if they had drank? And they vehemently claimed that they had not...!! And they seemed rather angry that they should even be doubted on that account... It was quite a sight. The man almost falling with each step and shouting at the police men for thinking he drank. LOLz. The man promptly drew out his almight mobile and began calling. And it seemed to me the policemen were getting more and more unsure about their judgement... much to our frustration. For with them around, all of us seemed as sober as kids after their glass of milk. Not surprisingly, somehow these two would dissapear in the next 20 minutes... while we lesser mortals kept waiting for the next step.

We were all taken over to the government hospital and tucked into a small room where a lady doctor sat. We stood in a queue and were to report to the lady one by one. Everyone was booked for a fine on a the standard amount : Rs. 1000/- (or therabout... if I remember correct). Suddenly one guy started arguing. He had only had a few sips to drink, not enough to be considered drunk... and he must be fined lesser....and demanded an alchohol test to be taken. Of course there was no such complicated gadget existing. And the irritated lady doctor shouted back, " Do you guys think I care if you guys are drunk or not. I do not give a damn. Drunk or mildly drunk you all pay the full amount. There are not enough doctors in this hospital, and we have serious patients out there and I am not going to spend more than 20 minutes analysing you all and then you & the police go wherever you want to - home or jail. This is a stupid exercise the police carry out here. We have no time. Wish the police could go out and catch some real criminals and leave us doctors out of this all!!!"

Everyone accepted their fine and walked off. Sorry, not walked off... but picked our bikes and drove off.

For records I never got caught again... not because I know where the police stand... but because I always pool into someone else's car when going out partying!! Which sadly I cannot find much time for these days...


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