We went for a birthday lunch and were driving back, on a lazy Sunday afternoon. There was not much traffic, and we were talking about this and that. Vijay pointed out a galli where a cousin used to stay, and I said we hadn’t gone there in a long time, and he said, yes, actually we hadn’t driven on this road in quite some time…then we tried to remember when it was that we had last come this way...The lunch must've had a tranquilising effect for as he spoke, Vijay drove right past a red light, even as the cop gestured to him and asked him to stop!
I said to myself, “The ever-alert Vijay…so obviously running a red light?! This is something new.”
So Vijay got down and went to talk to the cop. I sat in the car for a few minutes, and then decided to go stand by his side (remembered those wedding vows, “in good times and bad…”!).
I joined them and heard Vijay saying, “…give me a challan, Sir, and I will pay the fine”.
And the cop was saying, “I cannot give you a challan because I didn’t take a photo…I didn’t bring my camera with me today. So you have to…”
“What is the problem?” I butted in. “Write out a ticket and we will pay the fine”, with a stance of “Don’t you see this man can do no wrong…just let him go, now!”
“Madam…what are you people saying, “write out a challan; write out a challan”. I am telling him I didn’t bring my camera!” Impatience in his voice.
And then he said something I had never heard before.
“He has to do duty for 1 hour as punishment.”
“What?!” I said, ready to protest and fight, when Vijay stopped me saying, “Don’t fight with him…rules are rules. Don’t question…” and so on in the 'husband voice', successfully shutting me up.
I didn’t like this one bit, and began to wonder what we should do next.
And then, from the corner of my eye, I saw a man with a phone standing on the footpath. The cop too saw him at the same time, and walked towards him, asking him what he was doing there and why he was taking a photo!
The man said, “No, I was talking on my phone. I did not take a photo”.
“Show me your photo gallery”, said the cop. "Did you take a video?" The man showed it to him. There seemed to be no photo or video of this conversation, so the cop began searching other places in the phone.
Some more discussion and argument happened between the cop and the man, the attention of the cop completely shifted from us.
Then another cop came on a motor cycle, and parked next to us.
Suddenly the earlier cop looked at us and said, “Pondi saar” (Go, sir)!
“Let’s go, Vijay!” I said.
Vijay muttered, “Challan ivvara mari?”…Even as he said that, the other cop said impatiently, “We are asking you to go…just go!”
We got into the car, and started driving.
“That was a bit of luck”, I said. “It would’ve been fun to do the traffic duty for an hour, though!”
And then we saw a guy gesturing for us to stop. Vijay recognised him as the chap on the motor cycle, who, the cop thought, was taking a photo or video!
We pulled over, and asked him what he wanted.
He agitatedly told us that he had been taking a video of the conversation between the cop and us! He said, he wanted to catch the cop red-handed, asking for a bribe!
We looked at the guy with amusement, and thanked him for stopping to do this!
Perhaps there is hope in the world after all?