…especially in Mumbai.

The other day I was driving with a dear friend down Marine Drive – engaged in deep conversation about a topic which I am sure – due to a sudden lapse of memory – was as seminal as world peace or the way to end poverty forever… when I realized I was stuck in the wrong lane. I was going straight in a lane reserved for cars turning left before the landmark Air India building. Now I am the kind of guy who buckles up in a stationary car or pigheadedly stays put at a red light in the middle of the night – much to the chagrin of irate, less-than-scrupulous drivers behind me. (If I had a sun-roof then I would have stuck my head out and mouthed “So, sue me…!”) So the sincere honest chap that I am – I didn’t expect to be punished for a sincere honest mistake like getting caught in the wrong lane…but the “pandu” flagging me down showed me life isn’t that fair. My friend rolled her eyes and went “here we go again.”
I rolled down my window and before the poor guy had a chance to speak – we started apologizing profusely. Pandu gives a rueful smile, shakes his head and proceeds to explain what I did wrong. I am usually not Don Juan in this circumstances and blurted something about being from the ‘burbs and hence was not aware of these roads. To his credit he did not offer a sniggering laugh as a response (as the argument deserved) and patiently explained that there were arrows on the road which explained which lane was which…asked for my lysun (license) and proceeded to open his chalan book. Now left to me I would have offered him 50 bucks and gotten the hell out of there…but this is why I say women should rule the world. (Go Hillary!) We (she) took a conscious decision to take this one honestly…and asked him “now what?”… He told us that he will have to confiscate my lysun and give me a chit instead…and that later I would have to come to the thana near Fashion Street and pay a fine of Rs.100 and collect it. I groaned…honestly, honesty was becoming highly inconvenient… but a resolve is a resolve.

We told him that I came from far (those nebulous clouds of dust and people called the suburbs) – and that was it possible to pay the fine here…he just shook his head and continued to write the chalan. My friend and I then started discussing how she would collect it on my behalf (as she lived closer by) and then we (she) gave him the kindest smile that could be mustered…

I don’t know what transpired beneath that blue topi of his…but he looked at us and said, “Well you could pay your fine here and sign saying that ‘lysun received…’ – just because you have to come from far and all…” OK…my mind quickly calculated if this was honest…well I was signing an official document wasn’t I? So I concurred…paid the fine…signed saying that I had indeed received my lysun. Now that the case was closed…we drove on to the movie we were getting late for, feeling light, and happy that honesty was still alive and that it pays…

That night – I was thinking about the same episode, and I realized I did not get a copy of the chalan I signed on! As far as I know I could have signed on a piece of toilet paper! Wow…now what do you call that? He most probably pocketed Rs.100 – and made us feel as if we weren’t doing anything wrong…
It was win-win all the way…and my friend actually went on to say “See? Today we have made a better place for the children of the world…!” I felt nice… like I did my bit of Gandhigiri for that day…
Is this dishonesty? The case is still open… 😉 Readers welcome to comment…

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