Spice of life: Have a nice day… you lesser mortals | chandigarh | Hindustan Times
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Spice of life: Have a nice day… you lesser mortals

It all started with my wife’s winning movie coupons in a game of tombola. Expiry date checked, we assigned Shruti, our daughter-in-law and a movie buff, to book a show at a popular multiplex. On the fateful evening, we drove out for the freebee.

chandigarh Updated: Sep 09, 2015 15:20 IST

It all started with my wife’s winning movie coupons in a game of tombola. Expiry date checked, we assigned Shruti, our daughter-in-law and a movie buff, to book a show at a popular multiplex. On the fateful evening, we drove out for the freebee.

Since it was a new movie, we needed a time cushion to get tickets against our coupons and steal a moment for some window shopping at the mall. Then I started my sermon on speed limits and the need to follow these for safety and to avoid the penalty. Shruti and I being habitual offenders, one for wrong parking and the other for fast driving (necessity of the young blood, of course), I was lecturing us to reform and set an example when we noticed a police naka ahead.

Conscience clear, I approached it without fear only, to be signalled to pull over. An agile police inspector approached us and sought my driving licence. “Inspector saab, kya galti kiya (what’s my offence)?” I asked him. “Over speed,” he snapped. “Arre, mein to bahut slow tha, balki apni bahu ko speed limit ki ahmiyat bata raha tha (I was going extremely slow, rather telling my daughter-in-law why it is important),” I summoned my best of convincing powers, even pointing to Shruti in backseat. The cop was in no mood to listen to my pleading.

A traffic marshal, an elderly gentleman, came over to tell the cop I must be 12 kilometres or so over limit, as captured by a concealed radar gun some distance behind. Fearing multiple infringements, I did not deem it fit to flaunt my army credentials. Just the other day, an army officer had brawled with a cop and it was all over the media.

I requested the marshal to allow me to pay the fine on the spot to avoid standing in a long queue at the makeshift pay-up point at a police station, that too in 43-degree-Celsius heat. The inspector made a call to his control room to know if I was a regular offender. I had my fingers crossed. Since all my previous fines were for wrong parking, I got a clean chit from the control room for no previous speeding infringements.

All this time, we were observing the other fellows trying to get around the cops for reprieve, their mobiles busy calling up influential friends who could put in a word of impact. Seeing the uniformed law enforcers unmoved, I had taken out my wallet when a commotion broke out and all the cops, hitherto involved dutifully in their task at hand, came to rapt attention to salute an official convoy and its unidentified dignitary or their dependents crossing the checkpoint at speed that would put a Formula One driver to shame. We admired the driver’s skill and control, and wished Michael Schumacher a speedy recovery.

I paid up my fine but not before telling the marshal: “Sir, these vehicles that raced by didn’t seem to be ambulances or fire tenders.” The helpful old man just shrugged his shoulders, made a helpless face, and said: “Have a nice day!”

The writer is a Chandigarh-based retired army officer

avnishrms59@gmail.com