“A little to the left”
“Is this okay?”
“No. To the LEFT… yeah, stop. Perfect.”
I am very particular about some things in life; one of them is the angle of the rear-view mirror on my bike. Having suffered a dead battery and thus being unable to drive it for three days was driving me nuts. The craving for the revs was real.
“Here’s the Gate pass”
I watch as a cat crosses my path.
Fuck cats and fuck superstitions.
I press the ignition button, it starts instantly. Holding the clutch firmly, I twist the throttle to its extent. The RPM needle on the display nears the red zone, the engine lets out a whirring symphony – bliss for cochleas. Exhilarated, I let go of the clutch, putting me outside the service center in a couple of seconds.
“Beti, follow me” I yell at Bhandari who was my ride to the service center.
“Abey Ruk” (Dude stop) He calls back.
“Aa ja” (Come) I say and speed out.
The display goes 30-46-67-82. I shut the visor. Things were serious now.
Why the fuck is the road so empty?
I look around, people were waiting on both sides of it. There were jeeps passing on my right. I look what’s in front of me – a green light at 100 meters – throttle. As I pass those jeeps by and near the traffic light, I notice a traffic policeman waving. I glance at the speedometer – 78.
Can’t stop from this in time. Quick poll: Helmet – check, Lane discipline – check. Nothing wrong on my part except for maybe the speed. He isn’t stopping me; it is all in my brain. Another empty stretch - Fuck yes!
After covering another couple hundred meters in some seconds, I stop – had to take a left. The road was jam packed with two-wheelers preventing my attempt to turn. Everyone was waiting.
Fucking traffic. For what?!
I put the bike in Neutral and turn off the engine. I take off my helmet to hear the wailing of police sirens crossing me. I look who’s inside, a dude stares at me, point blank.
What the fuck is his problem? He does look familiar though. Is he a politician?
A police jeep deviates from the rest and stops in front of me. A policeman gets out and starts running towards me.
I turn my head to an angry voice behind me. It turns out to be coming from another overzealous angry policeman. The guy in the front reaches for the key, and tries to wiggle it free. He gestures to the other guy, who enters the jeep.
“What?!” I exclaim angry and bewildered.
He lets an angry remark still trying to get it out.
“WAIT” I shout. “I will get it out.”
After it was out, he shouted “LICENSE!”
“BUT FOR WHAT”
Another angry remark followed by:
I give him the license, he takes a look and tries to pocket it. I snatch it back.
“NO! I am not giving you this. Kannda illa. English or Hindi” (I don’t know Kannada, speak in English or Hindi)
“Aiyoo!” The dude goes on for another minute. I look at onlookers for translation. No one seemed willing.
“WAIT! I’ll call someone.”
I call my manager.
“Hi Kantha! Do you have some time?”
“Yes, tell me”
“So, a policeman came out of nowhere, snatched my bike’s key and started going on in Kannada. He refuses to speak any other language. Can you ask him what is the issue?”
“Sure. Give him the phone”
The guy takes my phone and starts blurting out in the mouthpiece. I wait patiently; a minute goes by. He hands the phone over to me.
“Yes, tell me”
“So, he is saying that you overtook the CM’s fleet. The police had cleared the road for him to pass and you were raiding about like a fugitive. Apparently, the police tried to stop you but you didn’t. An alert was radioed in the area for a guy on an orange sports bike and this guy says he caught you. He says it is pretty serious and you will have to go to the station now.”
“What the fuck?!”
“Yeah. Don’t argue, just listen to what he says and follow his instructions. Update me on what happens.”
*I hang up*
I turn to the guy who looks at me suspiciously. He asks for the Driving License in my hand. I give it to him.
“Sit” He says getting in the driver’s seat of the bike. I ride pillion. Few meters in, he asks:
“MODEL! MODEL kaunsa” (which model?)
The fucker knows Hindi.
“Oh! Honda CBR”
He tries to turn right, down shifts the gear pedal and releases the clutch – a little too fast. The bike stops. He starts it, releases the clutch, the bike jerks and stops.
“Main chalaun?” (Should I drive) I ask.
“Hato, chalane do mujhe” (Move, let me drive). “I just got the battery replaced, you’re ruining it”
“CHUP CHAAP BAITHO!” (Shut up and sit quietly)
I comply. He starts it successfully the third time. We move and finally stop near a police jeep. He parks my bike and gestures me to follow him. We approach the vehicle. The policemen talk. One gets out of the vehicle and gestures me to follow him.
“Sir. What happened?”
“You need to go to the police station”
“You broke the rule”
“Can’t I pay the fine here?”
“SHUT UP! Follow me. The matter is not in our hands anymore.”
We start going away from my bike towards his bike.
“But my bike?!”
“He will bring it”
I look at the guy who had just driven me. He seemed to be checking his hair in the rear-view mirror of my bike, twisting it in the process.
“FUCKER” I let out in anger.
“WHAT?” The guy escorting me exclaims.
We embark on the police bike and get on the move. I try to get a view of my bike but we make a sharp left turn. The bike gets out of my view. I let out a sigh.
“Which station are we going to?”
“Mico Layout Police Station”
“MYCO! MYCOOOO!” He shouts angrily.
No use talking to this guy.
We make some turns and then some more and finally arrive at the station. The guy who drove me gestures towards a room. Asks me to go in.
“But my bike?”
“Aa jayega tumka bike” (Your bike will arrive)
Exasperated, I start moving towards the room. I look inside: 4 people – 1 traffic policewoman, 2 traffic policemen, 1 guy in casual shirt, khaki pants, probably the supervisor.
I hear a familiar sound, I turn towards it. There was it, being driven by him coming towards me.
Took his own sweet time.
He disembarks, turns it off, and starts swinging the keychain around his right index finger. Looks at me and gestures to follow. I enter the room behind him. He hands over the key and my DL to the supervisor while saying something in Kannada. The supervisor looks at me and starts speaking.
An angry remark. A question? Another angry remark. Another question?
“Sir Kannada illa” (Sir I don’t know Kannada) I say.
The guy glares at me. More angry comments. No sense. The guy who had driven my bike laughs, asks me to sit in a nearby chair, pets my head a couple times and leaves. I look around for a potential translator and find it in a traffic policeman.
“Gaya tum to” (You’re screwed)
“Par kyun?” (But why?)
“Crossed the CM. Broke the rule. Broke the protocol. Security breach. Fugitive alert. Terrorist threat. Speeding in front of CM.”
“But I didn’t know”
“You are gone. GONE. There will be FIR against you. Your life is GONE.”
“But it was an honest mistake. I didn’t know the CM was passing”
“Doesn’t matter. We got the alert on Radio in the whole area. FIR!”
“What should I do?”
“Nothing, wait till the Inspector arrives, he will deal with you.”
“And when will that be?”
“Bhookh laga kya?” (Are you hungry?) “What’s the hurry?”
“No. I’m good, thank you. When is the inspector coming?”
“After one hour”
I wait as everyone gets back to their work. A few minutes pass by. Unknowingly I start blowing raspberries. The supervisor glares at me, I stop.
“BAHAR JAKE BAITHO” (Go, sit outside) He shouts.
So, this fucker knows Hindi too.
“Sorry Sir. When is the inspector coming?”
“6:30. Get lost!”
I find a bench nearby and sit. Getting my phone out, I look at the time. 5:43pm.
47 minutes to go. Phew!
“Nothing. I’m waiting for the inspector to arrive. They say he will talk to me”
“Okay. Keep me updated and tell me if you need me to come down.”
*I hang up*
I close my eyes and try to replay what the fuck had happened in the last 30 minutes. My reverie is broken by another voice.
“What did you do bro?”
I look at the source. 5’ 2” guy. Green shirt, cheap brown pants and torn sandals.
“What did YOU do?” I ask him.
“Nothing bro. I had parked my bike and had gone for an interview. When I came back before the last round, my bike wasn’t there. I asked around, people told me it was towed. I ditched the last round, came here and have been waiting since 4:30. They say the inspector will come at 6:30 and I will have to talk to him. What happened to you?”
“Apparently I overtook the CM’s car”
“WOW! A major offence! You made a big mistake bro!”
“Looks like it”
“All the best bro”
“Same to you, homie”
“Oh! I will surely get my bike. I don’t know what they will do to you. I’ll have to pay Rs. 500 fine and I will get it back. You however…”
“What me however?”
“This is serious dude”
I gesture the guy to stop as I answer the phone.
“Where are you?”
“Mico Layout Police station”
“What the fuck?”
“Do you want us to come?”
“Nah chill. Let me see”
*I hang up*
“So, which bike do you drive?”
“Oh! this one?” Pointing towards it.
“You could have easily jumped them”
“What do you mean?”
“As in sped and run so they can’t catch you”
“Little did I know”
“Yes, Kantha told us what happened. Which police station?”
“I know a guy there. I will reach out to him see what he can do.
*I hang up*
“So where do you work bro?”
“We Yum Ware”
“Do you have openings for me?”
“What job profile?”
“What suits a BSc degree?”
“I don’t know, you tell me. What have you done?”
“Do you have a data entry job?”
“I doubt it. I will have to check”
“Anyway, you will be out of job because of this FIR. How will you refer me…”
“Yeah, of course. That’s a problem. Let me think about it.”
“But your friends would be working there no? They can refer me!”
“Will you kindly fuck off?”
The poor guy backs off, taken aback by the strong reply. I decide to take a stroll around the station.
“So, I called the guy, looks like he doesn’t remember me anymore. I tried explaining how we knew each other, he said there is nothing he can do.”
“I see. Thanks though”
“No problem. Do you want us to come?”
“Nah. Chill. Let me talk to the inspector”
*I hang up*
Some more minutes pass. A jeep approaches. The inspector gets out. And starts walking towards me. Stopping right in front of me, he bellows:
I move and immediately realize I was standing right in front of his cabin door. Not a very good first impression.
I try to go behind him but am stopped by two policemen.
“WAIT!” They shout.
I wait. After a couple minutes, I hear a ring. The supervisor enters. I try to eavesdrop – the supervisor was getting reprimanded.
Serves him right! But that doesn’t bear well for me either. The inspector is in a foul mood. Holy shit.
After a couple minutes, the supervisor exits and gesture me to get in. I peek in the cabin and ask:
“Sir, may I come in?”
“What do you want?”
“Sir I am told that I overtook the CM’s fleet”
“Oh so that was YOU?! Do you know you put all our jobs in jeopardy?!” He bellowed, visibly angry.
“I’m sorry sir. It was an honest mistake. I didn’t know otherwise I would have stopped.”
“There were policemen stopping you, you didn’t. An alert was sounded, you didn’t hear. They had to follow you to catch you and they did.”
“Sir, honestly, they didn’t. I had already stopped as I had to turn left which is when everything happened. I had absolutely no idea what was happening until I was told that I had done what I did.”
“Couldn’t you see them waving at you? Do you have eyes or not?”
“Sir, I did not see them waving otherwise I would have stopped. I accept I did make a mistake but it was because I didn’t know it.”
“You saw clear roads, right? When do you get that in Bangalore? Do you lack the brains too child?”
“That, Sir, is a valid point. Clear road was an indication. I apologize for my mistake.”
“Where is your pillion rider helmet?”
“Sir there was no pillion rider”
“You were driving alone?”
“Did you wear helmet?”
“Sir I always do”
He turns back to his work. A couple minutes pass. I wait at the door. He rings again for his attendant. A lady enters. He instructs her in Kannada. He looks at me and holds his stare, trying to make up his mind on what is to be done with me. I bow my head down, trying to get in the humblest stance, standing upright.
“I am letting you off with a stern warning this time. Will you repeat it again?”
“I most definitely will not sir”
“If you repeat it again, I will DESTROY your career”
“Sorry sir, I won’t”
“Pay fine of only 300 rupees, take a receipt and then go. And don’t repeat it.”
“Thank you, Sir”
“Otherwise I will SPOIL your career”
I follow the lady who takes me to another room – 2 people: 1 traffic policewomen, 1 policeman. The lady who escorted me explains everything to them. That they are visibly upset with the fine imposed.
“What is going on there? Do you want us to come?”
“I’m paying the fine, will be back at the office shortly”
“Cool. See you then.”
*I hang up*
The supervisor enters, looks at the lady and enquires about the fine.
“ONLY 300?!” He is livid.
“Yeah” Replies the other traffic policewoman. Looks at me and says “I will see. 300-400-500 what I can fit in the machine. Right?”
Before I could respond the policeman who was sitting in the room blurts out:
“I WAS SHOUTING AT YOU!”
“ON THE SIGNAL”
“YOU DIDN’T STOP!”
“I SHOUTED FROM THE LOUD SPEAKER”
“YOU STILL DIDN’T STOP!”
He grunts as gets up and storms out of the room. Supervisor follows. The lady who was escorting me is dispatched to retrieve my DL and keys. Meanwhile the traffic policewoman who was working to get my fine going inquires about my details. When the details are fed in the machine, she opens the charge sheet and scrolls:
“You have insurance?”
“You have pollution?”
“I have pollution under control certificate, yes”
A suffer a stern glare.
“You have all the documents then?”
“Hmm. Reckless Driving charge – Rs. 300.”
*Checks the box and scrolls*
“This one – Refuse to stop at police signal – Rs. 100”
*Checks the box and scrolls*
“Okay. 400 rupees. Give” Finally deciding on the fine, clearly upset she couldn’t find other related applicable charges.
“PayTm?” I ask. Brain fart.
“Does it look like you can PayTm here?” She throws the device on the table, annoyed.
“Sorry Mam. Here is the cash” I offer her a 500 rupee note. I also retrieve the machine and meekly hand it over to her.
Scowling, she takes it and prints the receipt. She then snatches the note from my hand searches for the most tattered, stained 100 rupee note she could find in the thick wad of notes probably collected as fine all over the place. Finally, content at the selection she hands it over to me. I catch it with two hands afraid it’ll tear in two.
“Thank you Mam” I reply.
She hands me over the DL and the keys and warns to never repeat it. I agree and exit the room.
“What happened bro?” The 5’ 2” guy appears out of nowhere, sitting on his Splendor Plus.
“Nothing I paid the fine.”
“And?” He asks, hopeful for more.
“And nothing. I’m going back”
“Oh! That’s it? How much fine though? I just paid 600 rupees. Finally got my bike”
“Good for you”
“How much did you pay?”
His smile fades, he kick starts his bike and rides away.
As I get on my bike and adjust the rear-view mirror, I happen to see the Supervisor in his room looking straight at me, glowering.
I start my bike, turn it around and ride into the traffic.