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A few days ago, I was having lunch at a restaurant in Jayanagar 4th Block which offered an excellent view of the Cool Joint junction. A surprise checkpost set up by three traffic policeman close to the junction was the highlight of my lunch.
During the course of half-an-hour, the police stopped 16-17 vehicles with no apparent discrimination between autos, two wheelers, four wheelers and goods vehicles. The policeman would stand behind a tree and suddenly step in front of the vehicle of his choice to make sure that there was no escaping the long arm of the law.
A senior citizen who was driving his car without a seatbelt was stopped; he seemed to reason with the Inspector for a few moments, and then seemed resigned to his fate. After paying the fine, he walked back to his car, put on his seatbelt and went off. There was a clear expression of ‘how stupid was I’ on his face.
Interestingly, during the entire duration of the time that he was with the police, the window on the driver’s seat was rolled down and the key was in the car; there was no apparent passenger as well. The two police constables were taking turns in stopping vehicles. They stopped one auto and when they saw it was occupied by a passenger, they let it pass. Similarly, another four wheeler was stopped. But when the police saw that it was driven by a senior citizen with another senior citizen as the passenger, they let that pass too.
Two small goods vehicles were stopped and I am pretty sure that they were fined, based on the receipts handed out to them. A few two wheelers whose riders were not wearing helmets were also stopped. However, after some negotiation, one of the riders seemed to escape unscathed, given the fact that he was smiling widely at his pillion rider.
A truck which was the only type of vehicle missing from the party, decided to join in when the police invited it. The driver who may have had several experiences of this sort before, coolly walked up in his vest and lungi without any documents and started talking to the police. He was joined by another occupant of the truck and within a matter of five minutes, they were back at their truck, revved it up and were on their way to wherever they had to go.
The choice of catching autos appeared random (though one can never be too sure) and the auto drivers seemed prepared with a bunch of paperwork. It appears that they too were fined. Keeping in sync with our Indian traditions was an endless bunch of onlookers who it seemed had decided that this was how they would spend their afternoon (this includes me also I guess).
At the same time, there was some commotion on the other side of the road, where BESCOM personnel were trying to install what seemed like a new electric pole. There were 7-8 people – all wearing protective fibre hats – pulling the pole to a certain height at about 45 degree, after which a long ladder was placed at a certain angle to support it. It resembled an isosceles triangle.
One of the personnel then climbed up the pole and seemed to be fixing the light. It was then that I had to go and could not be too sure of what he was doing exactly. As I exited, the policemen were still there stopping vehicles, onlookers were stilling looking and in fact they had something new to look at – the installation of the electric pole. And of course, the traffic kept coming and going.