Some weeks ago I was driving my red Omni car through the Richmond Town area, heading towards Domlur. I needed to turn right at Johnson Market-Hosur Road towards Austin Town. It was close to noon and traffic is often sparse at that time of day. The light was green and I followed the other moving vehicles. Suddenly, the traffic from the other side started moving. It was then apparent that the light had turned red for us and I had failed to stop.
I managed to avoid the oncoming vehicles and complete the turn into the right lane, only to see the policeman’s waving arm. Oh dear! Now I will be fined! I stopped my car at the road side. The policeman came by and the conversation that followed, all in Kannada, went like this…
Me: (Opened my wallet and handed over the licence)
Policeman: So you are from this area (my licence has my Richmond Town address on it)
Me: Yes. I’m sorry about what happened.
Policeman: What is this… when there is a lot of traffic on the roads you people jump the lights… when there is no traffic also you are jumping the lights…
Me: Really sorry. I am usually very careful. I did not see the light change.
Policeman: I will have to fine you.
Me: Ok. How much?
Policeman: The charge is jumping the red light and reckless driving. Rs 500.
Me: But you know I was not driving recklessly.
Policeman: The charge is like that.
Me: Ok. I will pay then. (I was feeling terribly bad that I had to forgo Rs 500 but was comforted that I did have Rs 500 in my pocket)
Policeman: What would have happened if the oncoming traffic had hit you? You would have had to go to court… it is all so bothersome…
Me: Yes… I know…
Policeman: I feel bad to take Rs 500 from you. Also, you say that you are usually very careful… Pay Rs 300
Me: Ok… please give me a receipt.
Policeman: There is no charge for Rs 300… so I cannot give a receipt.
Me: You know… I am not in the habit of paying off policemen to get a lesser charge (in hindsight, I sounded as if I was a regular violator). You know I was not driving recklessly, but if you say I have to pay Rs 500 I will pay. Please give me a receipt.
Policeman: Rs 200 ok?
Me: Ok, Rs 200.
Policeman: For Rs 200 also you want a receipt?
Policeman: (Looked at me in despair. Returned my licence.) Never mind. Go and don’t do things like this again.
No bribe. Conscience clear. My Rs 500 saved!! ⊕
I also had a similar experience with a Policeman in Chennai for driving a vehicle with Temp Regn Board. From Rs 500, he came down to Rs 5 for tea. Now I wish I had not paid that Five rupees also.