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Bangalore Cops

April 1, 2010

I’d to take an auto home after 9 PM today. Anyone who has been in this city knows that is a nightmare experience… first you need to find a willing auto guy, negotiate the price which could vary from “one and a half” to double or any outrageous amount the driver figures he deserves for taking you home at that time of the night.

This one said one and a half and I agreed… no point haggling at that time of the night. Except… I first get  whiff of alcohol and figure it is my imagination. A few kilometres down the road I realise the meter is running to fast, almost jumping. I pointed it out to him and he pulled over the side and said “get off if you want to”. I shrugged and asked him to continue.

Another couple of kilometres and I realise the meter reads double of what it should. I got annoyed and got off and paid pretty much what the meter read – 70 bucks. (Which I figured was generous). Except he wanted 100.

Something just snapped and I said let’s go ask the cop.

Perhaps the driver was too drunk to care but he agreed. So we approached the cop. The cop instantly messaged someone… checked what the fare was on the auto meter, got a text report about how much it was supposed to be from where I took the rickshaw… which was about 40 bucks. So he figured the meter was fast, and I was being extremely fair in paying him 70 bucks… the driver, who was busy proclaiming he had all his documents in order, got a little annoyed and said he wanted 80 bucks. No such luck.

I was elated… of course, there was a crowd by that point – naturally – and some of them were also the good samartians who got involved in the discussion. I never understand those people… who just stop by and start behaving like judges and somehow believe that their word is also final. But it helped that I was a girl, fairly young looking at that, I guess. The cop kept repeating to the driver how it was not good of him to treat “young women like her” so badly, “making them get off on the side of the road at this time of the night”. I wasn’t sure if I should laugh or be annoyed… it was barely 10, not late by my standard but India remains traditional in some ways I guess.

I paid him off… he kept arguing and the cop got annoyed enough to question why the guy was not wearing his uniform and had booze on his breath… which was when I figured it was time to slip off. They offered to put me on a bus but I figured I should quit while I was ahead… the cop had been surprisingly nice and helpful, without asking for a bribe… and polite. So I got another auto – which again ran too fast – and got home.

Is the city really improving? I don’t know… but it feels good when the cops do their jobs right. And feels justified when you learn that the technology they have invested in is paying off. More traffic cops will apparently have Blackberrys soon so they can access data about drunk driving offenders right away and fine them or whatever. After today, I somehow believe that this could be possible.

Song of the day: Drive Away – Orianthi

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