Thursday, May 6, 2010
..I am posting this at the risk of being bullied by friends and family. Thankfully, friends don't follow the blog, and family would anyways find out sooner or later. I was caught by the traffic police today for talking on the phone while driving. Actually I had stopped at a signal, when the maid called up, and since she calls from a public phone, I simply could not afford to miss the call. She would have happily hung up and walked off, while I would be left wondering till eternity as to why she had called up. Moreover, she calls mostly to notify an absence, and this is 'the deciding factor' which determines what our day would look like the moment onwards, and who between us would take off from work and suffer the child. Digression over, the signal turned green while I was still on the call and almost immediately, the cop appeared out of nowhere. I think he saw me talking while I was still waiting at the signal, and with little luck with the traffic light, he made it. Anyways, I was taken to the other side of the road, and he demanded that I pay up. I asked for a challan, to which he cheekily replied - 'Madam, challan ka 200 lagega'. I was already irritated with the maid and the sequence of events, so pulled out 200 rupees from my wallet and handed it over to him without another word. He was taken aback a little, but then hurried off to get me a reciept which I just threw in without even checking. After I reached the office, I took out the reciept and realised that he had charged me for 2 offences, one was offcourse 'talking on phone while driving' and the other was lane indiscipline. Since the penalty for the actual offence was only 100 rupees, he added an imaginary one to make up the amount to 200. He probably thought that for 100 rupees, people might not be even interested in bribing him. But what really disappointed me was the penalty. Taking calls while driving can have terrible consequences, and 100 rupees is all you get fined for it? And tell me, who really minds shelling out that amount these days? My maid doesn't mind if I do not pay her for the day she takes off without prior notice, and continues to do so with delight. Her daily salary is more than 100 rupees, and she doesn't care. I spend an average of 100 rupees on petrol every day. It just doesn't sound like a fine, and the purpose is entirely lost. I have pledged not to recieve calls while driving because I know how wrong it is, but I know people who would not be deterred till they are made to pay for it. And paying it with a fine is a zillion times better than paying it with somebody's life. My cousin got fined for $250 for speeding on the freeway in Texas, and it was a lesson learnt the hard way. I so hope that they raise the penalty for all traffic offences to a reasonably high amount. However, given the state of affairs here, with the cops being so lowly paid and people so willing to bribe, it might just backfire and government may just lose out on the collections even more.