Friday, August 29, 2008

Menacing 'MAMA's in Chennai..

MAMA. That is how a traffic constable is popularly known in Chennai. I've had some terribly bitter experiences with these police officers in the past. Very recently, I had the worst of all my hands on experiences with the cops who, in an attempt to make Chennai a congestion-free city, are making it exactly the other way. Luz is a well-known place for almost everything you have been searching for so far and your shopping efforts are never in vain when you are here since you would (I bet) get anything you wished for. That is just a part of the Luz I know. There is something big behind the screens for Luz. Its the group of Traffic constables who stand right at the signal and literally pounce on the motorcyclists who don't wish to get there heads overloaded by helmets. One of the signboards in the city said 'Wear your hard hat to protect your software'. I wonder what are the hard hats they are talking about. Are these helmets really hard enough to stay in good shape even when a lorry rolls over your head while you're wearing them? I don't think so. And still these people expect us to wear it while riding bikes. Let us go back to Luz now. I had to take the left at the signal. I was unbelievably so sincere that I was waiting for the green to flash even when the board said 'Free Left Turn'. I guessed 'MAMA' would be standing immediately next to the corner and put on my helmet. To my surprise, I didn't find even a single white shirt and khaki pant. Now why should I wear a helmet? I removed the so called 'HARD HAT' and placed it on the vehicle's petrol tank as usual, without getting a clue of who was closing in behind me. It was FATE!!! Just as I removed the helmet, I found the Man in white shirt and Khaki pant raise his arm and signaling me to bring the vehicle to a halt. Finally, fate caught me. After a session of questions and replies that lasted for some 3mins, I was asked for my license. The usual Traffic police tradition. But what happened after that was something uncommon. The sergeant filled up a form with my name, address and vehicle number and asked me to get it signed by another man in non-uniform standing just behind him. After going through all the legal but senseless formalities, I was asked to pay a heavy amount as fine. Rs.50/-. I don't know why they wasted a good quality sheet for recording my crime for just 50 bucks. And they even spent their PRECIOUS time answering my queries on the CRIME I committed. I handed over a 50 buck note. He stared at me and then saw the mobile court that was standing closer to the platform. I understood what his gaze meant. I went to the mobile court and the two police constables in full khakis asked me to switch off the mobile phone. I was wondering why these people are making a big fuss for just Rs.50. They could have made me pay the fine without all these formalities like they always used to do. Suddenly, my thoughts were shattered by a voice from within the mobile court, which is actually a van, and I heard someone calling my name thrice which reminded me of those old tamil movies where the climaxes are taken to the court. I was shaken by the very arrangements within the van. It carried the look of a real court! (Though I haven't seen a real court in my life. We learn things from movies right? :-P) A Judge was sitting at one end of the COURTYARD and a man was sitting just in front of the Judge, who gave the complaint or the crime record form (Whatever....) to the Judge. I was made to stand within the cage where criminals stand in the courts (Movies depicted it that way. Can't help it). To add the court essence to the scene, this man asked me 'Helmet podama vandi otunaduthan ungal kutram. Idai neengal oppukolgireergala?' Are you thinking of something? For a moment, even I was thinking your way. I thought it was one of those funny and silly dreams. I said 'Yeah. Ok'. The constable with a rifle in his hand, standing next to me, asked me to stand properly since I had my legs crossed, mistaking them for my fingers.:-P I came out of the COURT where I was penalized for my coldblooded crime of not wearing a helmet that hampered the country's economical growth and incited a serious unrest in the city by polluting the minds of the citizens with my inhuman intentions, expecting media to interview me as soon as I made my first step out of the courthouse. Unfortunately, fate was still on my tail. All I found were few other CRIMINALS who were caught red handed, which should really be 'RED-HEADED', for not wearing helmets. The most tragic part which I still couldn't digest is that the MAMA who caught me wasn't in complete uniform. When he waved his hand at me, I thought some restroom cleaner is asking for a lift. The rule is 'Show me your slippers and I'll tell you who you're'. Slippers. Not even a pair of synthetic shoes. Unwillingly I paid the fine for my CRIME. I am now a criminal. Watch out. I could chase you down anywhere!! Thanks to MAMAs in Chennai that I am a macho now! (I know it looks pretty exaggerated. Blame it on the MAMA.:-P)

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