By The Way: Of waffles for munchies and the cute cops of Chandigarh
After committing some herbal sins, four of us had landed at a nightly store in Chandigarh’s Sector 35 with case of the munchies! At the door, some cops were blocking our way to mandatory salvation.columns Updated: Apr 08, 2018 15:16 IST
What do waffles and police have in common? If you asked me 10 days ago, I would have thought a bit and come up with something allegedly profound like this: Both are cures for problems that get exacerbated in the dead of the night — heartbreak and lawbreak, respectively. Now, though, I have experienced something more real, and surreal, and know that there can be another connection.
Here’s what happened.
After committing some herbal sins, four of us had landed at a nightly store in Sector 35 to pander to our hunger pangs. In simpler words, it was a horribly sweet case of the munchies! At the door of the store, some cops were blocking our way to mandatory salvation that comes to a specific kind of sinners. What’s the matter, we wondered. Maybe they were there for some complimentary cold coffee. But we didn’t ask. Mission was simple: Get to the waffles!
Little did we know that the machine that makes those dimpled pieces of heaven had broken down.
What’s wrong with the world? There is just no God!
“See the cops out there?” asked one of the boys at the counter.
“Yeah, so?” I frowned.
“That’s why, sir!” he said.
What was he saying? What did the cops have to do with my fundamental right of having sweet things at will? Suppressing my urge to spit out a profanity prefixed to ‘police’, I looked, askance, at a cop who was overhearing. He shrugged. And then walked towards the door, out to the corridor, to join his five colleagues who were already there.
I turned towards the counter boy and he threw me another riddle, “Sir, see that guy there?”, and pointed towards a man wearing a forlorn look and fashionably faded clothes.
I thought I’d finally got the drift: “What did you put in his waffles that he called the cops?”
“Nothing,” the boy replied, “We did not give him waffles at all. That’s why he called the cops. He says we have to, legally speaking, give him the waffles!”
So, the store had taken money for the waffles, handed him a bill, and then the machine had broken down. “We offered a refund, but he wanted the waffles. We offered other sweet stuff, but he just wanted the waffles. What is it with waffles?”
I was more interested in another question: What is with the Chandigarh police? The policemen had got the give-me-waffles-boo-hoo-hoo guy a piece of paper and a pen, and were standing around him, all sincere, as he apparently wrote down a complaint.
Now imagine this situation in, say, a place that’s not Chandigarh. The cops would have first taken longer than it takes to fix a waffle machine to respond. Then, it would have taken a lifetime for them to take it seriously enough to send a cop or two to the spot. And those cops would have made a waffle out of this guy who was being treated like a seriously wronged person by the Chandigarh police.
It’s like the cops in Chandigarh operate in a utopian bubble inside which our classic Indian ethos of delay, dither, deny do not apply. Maybe they love their waffles a little too much, but that’s no crime, you see. Or, maybe they just respond to calls mostly properly, as police are supposed to; then calm the situation by appearing all sincere, as police are supposed to; and then do the required formalities and follow up with action, as the police are supposed to. Look, as frivolous as it sounds, a fight over waffles too is a fight after all. And fights can take horrible turns in our, fight-loving part of the world.
As for those of you who lack perspective of any kind, let me tell you: The give-me-waffles-boo-hoo-hoo guy is a hero of our times. It’s a pity that the machine was not fixed. But he did what he could. I feel you, man; I feel you!
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