I never get caught by traffic cops. I guess I have that look of she-who-means-business. I also guess being a south Indian who speaks fluent Marathi (the local language) has its advantages. The husband however thinks my fangs are visible to one and all and why would they want to mess with me?
I must admit that I have been, not so long ago, frequently guilty of cutting red lights, speeding on flyovers, or taking no-entries on lazy afternoons. Patience is not one of my virtues, so I won’t say much. The few times that I was caught, I have used my journalistic voice to say, “I was rushing to meet Dhoni or Tendulkar (or whoever is the flavour of the season) for an interview, and I have just ten minutes to get there, so I know I was speeding, but my job is at stake.”
They usually buy it. You can do anything under the guise of cricket in this country.
If everything failed, there was the press card.
Things are different now. I am constantly aware of Re sitting smugly in his car-seat, being a spectator to everything while I am driving, so for one, I have learnt to camoflage cuss words (not so well, I am afraid), not speed too much, and avoid cutting lights. I still take no-entries, blaming it on the baby (He has done potty, I need a loo, quick!)
So recently when my friend Aseema was caught breaking a signal and stopping a good two minutes after a cop asked her to stop, it was dejavu for me. We were carpooling to our kids’ weekly music class and it was her turn that day and I was seated at the back with the kids (hers and mine).
Now, sitting at the back is strangely disempowering in such situations, especially when the person in front has already admitted to making a mistake. Drat! I thought, there goes my defence. A part of me wanted to jump in and spin one of my famous Dhoni tales, a part of me wanted to tell the cop that it wasn’t my fault, that I had astigmatism, a part of me wanted to say the kids were hungry and we had to rush home, a part of me wanted to not stop and just drive off.
But then I figured. The little ones (hers and mine) were not that little any more. Perhaps it was time for them to be passing judgement, learning how to negotiate power, thinking this is the way things are done, and perhaps repeating it years later.
I did nothing. I said nothing. It is the quietest I have been in a long time. She surrendered her license. He gave her a receipt. Off we went. I slept with a clear conscience. At least I had not set a bad example for Re, I thought, and felt happy.