My daughter who is in the 12th class has a scooter to commute to college and all other places as she pursues more interests than academics. As, driving a scooter itself is a learning (exciting: as she likes to put it!) experience for her, it makes it even interesting (and sometimes invigorating) to do it in the Pune traffic. It is no more a secret neither a shame for, otherwise pretentious, Puneits that Pune unanimously could be declared as the worst city when it comes to road traffic, vehicle abundance vis-à-vis available vehicular passage, following traffic rules as far as civic sense is concerned and the local governance adds to the chaos by digging the major roads, diverting traffic to absolutely uncomfortable routes and changing the policy of road use every now and then.
In this quite an adventurous and somewhat scary backdrop, I was almost reluctant to let her get into the Pune traffic all by herself. Not because I did not have confidence in her (she is little over-confident on the contrary and her mother is always prompt to add - ‘Just like her father!’) but I have driven on these paths including all the galli mohallas for over 20 years and could see what is imminent, no matter how right and law-abiding you were. Should I mention, this ‘imminent’ includes the traffic cops who have yogic capabilities of remaining invisible till the ‘right’ moment and appearing like an illusory character in the mythological movies and serials to demonstrate their super-powers! It seems that just like every other responsible member of the society like Doctor, Engineer, Officers and others, these cops have also forgotten long back what their job role was. Hardly ever they are seen to ‘control’ the traffic and most of the time they appear like waiting for an ‘opportunity’ in the already disordered traffic.
In our story, when I finally gave up to the diligence of the mother-daughter duo and bought a scooter for my daughter with a heavy heart and let her drive it alone, it was the last thing came to my mind that she will have the first bad (learning) experience in Pune traffic would be ‘legislative’ at the hands of a traffic cop! Owing to a changed schedule she had to drive from one of her other institutes to her college by taking a different, unfamiliar route. As she could not see a ‘No Entry’ board skillfully camouflaged in the crowd of flexes showering all the compliments to every Bhau, Dada and Saheb in the vicinity, an honest and dutiful cop appeared in front of her from nowhere and asked her to pay-up a fine of Rs. 100 for entering into a ‘No Entry’ for hardly over a 200 meter distance.
When my daughter told him humbly that she could not see the ‘No Entry’ sign and she is taking this road for first time and hence did not know about the ‘No Entry’, he seemed to be very righteous, patriotic and strict about the hideous crime she had committed! After debating with him for a while, my daughter called me up and shared the incident. I advised her to tell the truth to the constable which she had done already but in vain. Then I said that she should pay up the fine, take the receipt and keep the lesson. It is discovered that she was short of money and could not make it Rs. 100. When Mr. Righteous also learnt about it, he offered to settle the matter over a ‘penalty’ of Rs. 50. When my daughter asked whether she would get a receipt of Rs. 50, the patriot started smiling and a ‘Security’ person from a nearby hotel who seemed to befriended the cop since long, joined him and advised my daughter to pay up and close the ‘matter’. To this she responded that it would be a bribe and why should a cop expect such philanthropies if he gets a salary for doing his ‘duty’! Both of them seemed unable to take this ahead and meanwhile another offender entered the ‘No Entry’ who did not have the license. Seeing a ‘bigger’ opportunity, the dutiful cop turned merciful and let my daughter go without any ‘fine’ or ‘penalty’.
She obviously was happy for the entire day for her victory that saved her Rs. 50 – 100 and keeping out of the quick-fix trap that leads to moral corruption in due course. Yes, you read it right… there is no other type of corruption than moral. All the scams, cons, crimes and misdeeds are just the manifestation of the moral corruption. Once your moral starts accepting the ‘Chalta Hai’, ‘Itnse Kya Hota Hai’, ‘Mein Kaunsa Akela Kar Raha Hun’, and the best one ‘Mein Akela Kya Kar / Badal Sakta Hun’ reasoning, the corruption is already started and the best cure to a terminal disease is to prevent it.
Well, this is neither a virtuous story nor has a great social message or anything. This is just an incident that happened other day, just like thousands others happening every moment in the City Lights. So why am I sharing this here? Because I was always a proud father and my daughter never fails to make me prouder with each of her expression in a confrontation. This is just to thank her for making me proud just by being what and how she is and letting the world know that I am content that the legacy will continue…! Way to go…
And yes, although she is not yet the member of http://www.savepunetraffic.org/, I would request her to consider it. You are also requested to visit it and join if you care for it.
Stay tuned and Be Aware…!