Last week, a flat in Bandra caught fire at about 4.30am. I happened to be standing there watching and wondering how to best capture it for YouTube. Then a car screeched to a halt in the middle of the road, out of which staggered a young, drunk guy. There were six cops. He was reeking of so much booze that if the wind had blown right, he’d have been on fire. Then he said, “Cheeel men”. The cops did nothing. Drunk driving takes lives. Just drinking, not that much.
Unfortunately, I’ve realised you don’t have to try hard to get into an altercation with the cops these days. There’s just so much collateral damage as a result of these raids — bars don’t have proper licenses, so we are made to queue up; someone possesses drugs, we have to pee in a cup; discos are overcrowded, we get thrown out.
The criteria to judge a bar was simple earlier. Enough space for your toes? Check. Chances of meeting like-minded people high? Check. Don’t have to save on food to buy beer? Check. But that’s changed now. You have to watch your back.
Follow this checklist to gauge the chances of getting raided:
Outnumbered: Walk into a bar. Count the number of people and tables. What are the chances it’ll get busted?
Druggies: Also look out for ‘bogus’ cops, who just might let the 100 gms of cocaine lying in their pocket from the previous narcotics raid slip on to the floor. You’ll get labelled for fraternising with ‘immoral’ people. That’s an offence now, apparently.
Sex ratio: If you’re the only guy in a place packed with ladies, you’ll probably be called a pimp and get arrested. The women will get forcibly ‘rescued’.
No dancing: A friend got thrown out of a club in Bandra for “swaying”. Ask the managers if they have a ‘valid disco license’.
Stampede of authority: Moments before a city café was raided recently, a diner screamed, “Dhoble!” and everyone rushed. Ironical, because the police are saying they want to prevent stampedes, but they’re the ones causing them.
Liquor permits: First, express extreme shock at the fact that your bar isn’t serving one. Then forget about it. On Wednesday, about 12 cops were poking flashlights into peoples’ cars at 11 pm at Juhu. Right across the road, more than 20 commercial sex workers were going about their night wondering why they’ve lost the spotlight. At least someone’s benefiting.