20 November 2005


This is Ujjain and that is not me, I look like him though and ride as mindlessly

Is there any word for refusing to learn ?
Puts will call me after reading this post and tell me
array ghode' this is the word for it.
But she wakes up in the afternoon, too late for me.
I would call it History, refusing to learn I mean.
The teacher complaining your son is historing ?
No there must be another word for it.
Or the science of repeating the blunders called History ?

Priya's comment yesterday took me back to a day in my life when I was the king of Madras more than 40 years ago.

I had to wait for a very very long time to own a bicycle,
then I crowned myself as the king of Madras.
Believe me it was a big thing, your own bicycle, and I had this knack of running into the cops always. Going doubles (a pillion )
riding without a lamp in the nights was an offence.
There were always a couple of boys piling on to my bike going to Moore market looking for books, bits of pictures of the Beatles Rolling stones Dave Clark five in the magazines
These cops just appear from nowhere like ghosts in the cemetery.
Judging by my looks they come to a right conclusion that this chap has no money in his pocket. Pretty sadistic they are, in total frustration of making no money out of me, they remove air from the tyre sometimes both, if the cop happened to be a Jack the ripper, most of them were. I would be standing there begging and pleading. The level of my begging depended on the distance from home as I had to drag the bike all the way back home. Any protest resulted in their locking the bike and throwing away the key. Lifting the back wheel and dragging the bike all the way was not just a torture but you get laughed at too. And there is a chance of another cop catching you and accusing you of stealing some one's bike. One cop told me to buy a packet of charminar cigarettes. Went to a shop nearby and found it was 50 paise'. I went back and told the cop that I have money to buy only 2 cigarettes. I had only 10 paise' in my pocket. he said ok go get, and removed the air from only the front wheel as a gesture of his kindness.

One day I was in Parrys happily riding my bike, like the man in the picture. I found something unusual, the pavements were clean, all the road side shops vanished, rode my front wheel right between the legs of a waiting cop who gave me a glorious welcome, little short of garlending me. I did not notice a newly laid cycle track, and I was supposed to ride within those lines. Along with me there were 500 other offenders. I had to go to the GT court pay the fine, show the receipt and get my bike released. The court was full and noisy, I had to wait for my name called, Except for Mala and Chinna no body pronounces my name right. Rauf, pretty strange name, sounds even funnier when written in Tamil. God knows how the cop wrote my name in Tamil, first the cop didn't believe me, thought I was kidding him or giving him a false name. I convinced him that this is the name my father gave me. He scribbled something, an army of offenders followed him to the court. I have grown into hearing an array of pronunciations, the worst being Rooghoop.
I couldn't find my way in, the court was spilling with offenders, half of them were drunk ( in the morning ) Found a chap dragging a goat which was peeing every where, I asked him, he said his other goat is caught by the cops, mean buggers.
An old man smelling of cow dung was standing next to me, obviously his buffalo was arrested for jay walking. Hawkers selling peanuts, samosas, jilebi, chai waala wading through the crowd. People were buying them eating and drinking chai,
all this is happening while the court is in session.
Just married couples emerging out of an adjacent court wearing garlands, smiling, getting photographed, it was all happening.
Boy how I love my country,
The idea of leaving my country never crossed my mind even for a second in my 58 years. where else you would have such fun ?
This country so full of life. This is paradise for me
but right then I was not having any fun
I was worried about my new bike being stolen by the cops themselves,

and I was worried about the fine I had to pay as I had less than 5 rupees in my pocket.
My ears were open to the fines being slapped on the other offenders, they were all less than five rupees, that was a relief.

I heard something resembling my name called,
I elbowed my way towards the magistrate's bench, hoping the name called is not associated with any murder. It was my name alright, though missing by miles, rookoop or rooftop some thing I don't remember. The magistrate was not looking at all, he was lost in his own world, perhaps sleeping. His assistant asked me in Tamil,
did you cross the yellow line ?
I did not cross the yellow line.
but I jumped at it, simple offence lot better than murder.
I said ' yes your honour' in English
the sleeping magistrate, suddenly looked up,
perhaps no one in his life time had called him ' your honour'
Dazed look on his face
What are you ? he asked me in English
I am a student your honour
Yes you can go he said
big relief, no fine,
still I had to take a receipt for zero fine, go back show the receipt to the cops and get my bike released. Finished my work seeing a friend of mine, on my way back in the evening, 2 cops grabbed my handle bar, This time I really did cross the yellow line, avoiding a lambaa chakkar, You have no idea how dumb I can get. Oh dear I don't believe this. The morning episode was history. Cops were all over the place on an arresting spree this time opposite fruit market, a sea of cycles parked there, all traffic offenders like me. I had to go to the same court again. I'll cut it short. there was no magistrate. All
waiting, I was praying.....

God please don't send the same magistrate,
God sent the same magistrate.
He was looking pissed now, the cops disturbed his peace by bringing hundreds of petty offenders. He was yelling at his assistants too. Long wait, perhaps the magistrate was not enjoying working over time, irritated he was, slapping fines to his fancy right left and centre.
No good news for me,
I was just hoping that he doesn't remember me,
but how can he forget the only person in his life
who called him ' your honour' ?
That too on the same afternoon ?

My name was called rather what I thought to be my name. He was not looking up, not interested. good for me.
The assistant's eyes were piercing me.
You came in the morning he said in Tamil
It was not a question.
I kept silent, licking my lips.

the magistrate still looking elsewhere He was not even listening,
he was just slapping fines without looking at the offenders.
Did you cross the yellow line ? he asked me in Tamil
Right at that moment my common sense took a flight to cape town.
I said ' yes your honour'
repeated the morning trick which backfired.
Magistrate looked up, the assistant whispered something to him.
Your name was different in the morning, He said in English pretty annoyed.
I gave him my name, spelling, Perhaps written wrong in Tamil.
he did not reply, He said Ten rupees, in English, slammed the rubber stamp.
I had less than 5 rupees, took a bus, came home, mom screamed at me, ten rupees was a fortune. Went back to the court, it was getting dark and the magistrate was still sitting there and the offenders were pouring in. Paid the fine released the bike. Now its dark and I don't have a lamp. Had to drag the bike all the way home to whites road. took the Monroe statue road, it was dark, hardly any lights, no traffic, Believe me I was alone, not a mother's soul in sight. I decided to climb on to the bike and ride till the end of Monroe statue road and drag the bike again after that. I saw a white shirt approaching me, just a shirt no body, I mean a bodiless white shirt. This cop was so dark that I couldn't see him.
This is not happening to me.
Not again,
No point begging, I had no strength left.
Three times in a day ?? This would not happen even to Bertie Wooster
No one would believe me, was that a world record ??
I offered him 2 rupees, thats all I had. He took the 2 rupees from me and removed air from both the wheels. He said I know you'll ride without a light again.

I've had my moments of pleasure though, I had a lamp burning, oil lamp, dynamos were very expensive,
I knew the lamp was burning, cop caught me near Periyar Statue, no statue then, right after the bridge, I said I have the lamp, look its off he said, I said it was burning just now, touch it and see, he touched the top cover of the lamp and burnt his fingers, cursed me and removed the air from both the tyres


Anonymous said...

tee hee hee ! great going, poms ! loved the blog

chinna said...

My story about a madras cop...Found a cop and airforcewala having big argument. Drunk cop riding a cycle (like you!)had pushed the man astride a scooter in heavy traffic. Airforcewala threatening to call more airforcewalas and beat up cop. Cop has no support. I happened on this scene on my way back from college. I intervened and told them since nothing serious had happened to let the cop go.
Fastforward by one year. I'm pulling my car out at crowded Satyam Theater and scrape another car. Fight about to start when tough-looking guy intervenes on my behalf and asks them to get lost. I'm wondering what's going on when he comes close to my window and says,'naan police sir, remember that day you helped me with the armywalla.' and waves me on.
I thought to myself, heck, these are guys are smarter than we think.

Shpriya said...

u hv a good sense of humour :) But I can imagine ur plight then :)