As a part of the “getting over all this shit” campaign, Pinky had decided that what she needed was a complete makeover, and as everyone knows, all makeovers begin with ones hair.
That however, was a little difficult in Pinky’s case, given that she had already undergone too many makeovers and with the current state of her hair, her hairdressers creative options were, unfortunately, severely limited. In the last makeover period, Pinky had been given a permanently straightened look and a razor cut and now the only makeover possible was curling the permanently straightened hair so that he artificially recreated Pinky’s look prior to any kind of makeover. This look was aptly termed the “Back to Square One” look, charged at Rs. 1500/-. Pinky was overjoyed with the ‘new’ look and had rushed back to the office to show it off to all and sundry.
Many photographs later in various lighting and poses, Pinky was informed of the fact that her cab had just broken down and the cabby had come down personally to apologize to ‘Madam’.
“Madam, cab break down aagidhe madam. Ivagene made beku?” (The cab has broken down Madam, what shall we do?”)
Over the years of her stay in Bangalore, Pinky had developed her own customized brand of the Kannada language. Its uniqueness lay in the fact that it was not only spoken with a Mallu accent but also that it was generally littered with Malayalam verbs conjugated correctly with Kannada grammar techniques and also many Malayalam nouns, whenever the need arose. She generously used her Kannada with all cabbies, auto wallas and road side shop owners and sensing that Madam assumed that she was speaking to them in Kannada, all the people of the above said category, ensured that they conversed back to her in Kannada, which invariably ended in hilarious consequences. Inability to understand was generally not tolerated, and a pretension to understand was considered better than facing Madam’s wrath.
Pinky realized that the cabby was trying to weasel out of the situation and make her go home by a rickshaw, which she had had absolutely no intention of doing.
“Eenu madakkaagalla. Bere cab beku. Nodi idhu. Nyan ishtu kashta pette maadidhe” (I cannot do anything, Get another cab, Look at this. I did all this with &%$#$#%%)
The &%$#$#%% present in the above translation corresponds to the words “Kashta pette” which translates in Malayalam to “with so much difficulty” and in Kannada to absolute confusion, which was quite clearly reflected on the cab drivers face. But the cab driver understood from whatever translation that he had managed, that Madam expected him to look at something.
“Een madam?” (At what madam?)
“Nan Hair nodi neevu! Auto al hogidhre electrocution thara aagethe” (Look at my hair! If I go in an auto, I will look like I had an electrocution)
Although the concept of electrocution still did not register in the cabby’s mind – despite the apt portrayal by Pinky of how her hair would look after the above said electrocution including substantial hand movements and accompanying eye ball rolling – the cabby realized that the problem was quite serious and beyond comprehension and the only escape was to arrange a cab for Madam to save her (and probably himself) from imminent danger.
Seated safely in the next cab, and heading home in Bangalore traffic, Pinky soon drifted to her happy place, where her true worth had been discovered and she was cast as the leading actor alongside an exceedingly handsome man in a successful film. As mad fans begged for her autograph, she pictured herself smiling gracefully at them. Should she wave at them? Maybe, the royalty wave, a slight gentle move, so that she did not have to tire her hand as she would have to keep at it. It was only after she noticed a police mans head right in her window that she was suddenly returned back to the cab. The cab, she noticed, was now parked right behind the police vehicle in a busy junction.
“Madam, we are seizing this cab. The cab driver of this cab has been driving extremely rashly and dangerously. We assure you that no further inconvenience shall be caused to you.”
“Ummm….Ok”. Having just returned from a very pleasant mental trip definitely had its disadvantages and Pinky was having trouble grappling with the complicated situation that reality had suddenly presented her. “Sir, have you considered the additional inconvenience of me being stranded in this junction without a way to go home.”
The police man gave a look that implied that this was too much to ask. The vehicle had been seized, and had it been a worse day when the fine collections were lower, he would have ensured that all the occupants of the cab were seized as well on the charge of being in a cab that had been driven rashly or some other charge that his creativity could cook up. He was after all a man with a lot of responsibilities back home, what with an expensive wife and a trendy daughter.
After a brief discussion with a bulkier and more important looking police man, both the police men came over.
“Madam, I am the ACP of the police. I shall be assigning a police man to drop you home. Do not worry any further.”
In an instant, Ps primal instincts of survival informed her of the disastrous consequences that could arise if she was escorted by a bunch of policemen with blazing sirens to her posh locality. No amount of explanations regarding electrocution concepts, broken down cabs or rash drivers would pacify her by then distraught parents, who would possibly be contemplating how to manage a single daughter that they were unable to marry off for the rest of their lives for her supposedly criminal background.
“A police man! Ummm….huhhhh….I don’t think that’s a good idea. I’ll just go home by auto. That’s fine”
“No madam, I insist. Please trust me. You will be dropped home safely.”
Pinky’s look implied that she considered both policemen and thieves in the same trust categories.
“Ey, Bega banni, Madamge drop madi” (hey, Come fast, and drop Madam home.)
Pinky soon realized, gladly, that she was to be dropped home in her own cab with her own driver. The difference was that a traffic policeman would be accompanying them in the cab, and after Pinky was dropped home, the cab would be dutifully seized and taken to the police station along with its erring cab driver.
And thus after this brief intermission, the journey continued, policeman and all, and just when Pinky decided to return back to her limelight days of the future, the traffic police interrupted her.
“Madam, where do you stay?”
“The L&T south city apartments”
“Oh! Is it your own flat or is it rented?”
“It is rented”
“Where are you working, Madam?”
“In MG Road”
“In a software company?”
Pinky suddenly realized that an on the spot financial assessment was being done by the policeman and she realized that this was not exactly to her advantage as she might one day be caught by this traffic policeman for some minor offence and an extensive knowledge of her financial situation would definitely prompt him to ask for a hefty fine.
“So Madam, how much do you earn there?”
“What? Adhe kele baradhu (You should not ask that)”
Pinky grabbed the chance to explain the policeman certain elements of good manners and etiquette that she expected from a gentleman, including not asking someone’s age, salary and other personal details. This sudden lecture put the policeman in a state of confusion, especially since he was very rarely on the receiving side of lectures and he was generally used to people answering his questions without a second thought!
“Aythu Madam (OK Madam), can I ask your shift timings, at least?”
Pinky thought for a while and placed this question in the safe category.
“Yes. I work from nine to six”
Having said that, Pinky realized that she too could ask this guy some questions. People here generally had the trouble of showing too much respect and fear when faced with a policeman and she was out to show this guy that she was not like that.
“So, what are your shift timings?” There was no chance that he would fine her for that now, was there.
“My shift timings? Madam, I have to work from 8:30 am to evening 9 pm. And even more on weekends. Collecting fine from drunken drivers, guys who break traffic rules, guys without helmet and so on. It is very difficult these days to collect fines. Now no random checking permitted. And if people see us, they won’t even break the traffic rule! So we have to hide at the signals and wait for someone to break traffic rules. Then we have to jump and catch them. Very difficult nowadays.”
“So how exactly do you collect fines. Do you have some standard method?”
“Oh yes. Suppose we catch a couple on a bike. Now we have developed a fresh method to catch couples. First we stop the bike and remove the bike keys. Then we ask for all the papers. Anyway, nobody will have all the papers: license, insurance, pollution. Even if they do, the pollution would have most likely expired. Finally, we give them a official figure of all the fines they have to pay up. This will definitely be a huge amount which the guy will not imagine paying. Then we do the trick!” The policeman looked very proud to present this one.
“Then we start walking away. And the guy comes behind us while the girl stands where she is. You see, the problem with couples is that the guy cannot offer a bribe in front of his girl and the policeman doesn’t want to be seen taking a bribe in front of the girl. It’s a girl after all. So policemen came up with this walking away trick. Once the guy is separated from the girl, he offers the bribe fast and the deal is done quickly. So we don’t have to spend hours arguing about whether he broke the traffic rule or not.” The policeman looked at Pinky proudly.
“That is genius!”
“I am glad you think so, Madam!” he beamed. “But it is sad that most people think that we are very cruel. You know, one time, a motorcyclist gave me a bribe of Rs. 100 and asked for Rs. 50 back because he had no money for petrol. And I went to a nearby shop and brought change for him. Don’t you think we are kind people? Who else will give you the balance amount of a bribe?”
Pinky wondered whether she was expected to sympathize with this man or tell him off once again. Would he soon be telling her to get her friends to break more traffic rules so that the poor traffic police could collect some hard earned money? After all, he too was a man trying to earn a decent living. In this contemplative note, Pinky alighted from the cab, and allowed the policeman to seize the cab and the cab driver and continue with his daily duties of threats, fines and bribes.