What’s life without some chivalry?
Sardars don’t want Santa-Banta jokes. A policeman doesn’t want to be called a thulla, and drags Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal to court.
I guess you can’t even call the cop Mamu or Pandu any more. Mamu is a favoured slang for the cop in Delhi and the northern states. Pandu is common in western India.
Thulla may be a derogatory slang. I don’t see anything wrong with Mamu or Pandu.
But who will convince the cop if he catches you, and you say “What’s the problem,Mamu?” You may have committed no traffic offence, but the cheeky ‘Mamu’ may get his goat.
The humour and civility of policemen in Kashmir can be seen at the Mughal Gardens of Shalimar or Nishat. Policemen here voluntarily double up as enthusiastic guides, regaling tourists with the rich tales associated with the place.
Recently, during Eid, a cop stopped a friend at a traffic naka. The documents were in place, but the cop wasn’t disheartened. “Theek hai Jenab. Challan nahin. Par Eidi do (Ok Sir, no challan. But give me some token money for Eid),” he said cheekily. How do you disagree with a demand made with such cheer? So of course, the cop got his Eidi.
The Mamu isn’t always boorish and surly. Some years ago, I was driving in Srinagar and got caught for some traffic offence. The traffic cop took at look at my driving license.
“Aap Karnataka se ho? Aapka challan nahin kareinge. Aap hamare mehmaan ho (Are you from Karnataka? We won’t challan you. You are our guest),” he told me smilingly. I was amused by his response.
I didn’t have the heart to tell him that I’m a Kashmiri.
And why risk a challan by stating the truth? I too smiled and drove off.
Women drivers in Srinagar have no fear of being challaned. One can see the almost comical response of traffic cops after they stop a woman for traffic violation.
Even if the women are caught in a traffic offence, the cops are almost always too shy to pursue the challan. They let off the woman with a soft reprimand.
The hilarious part comes if a traffic cop stops a woman for an offence, and she loses her temper over some misunderstanding. The poor guy just can’t handle it, and promptly tells her to drive away.
Girls have it equally lucky in Chandigarh, which is strict in ensuring adherence to traffic rules. Cops there are quick to stop vehicles which have registration number plates of neighbouring Punjab, Haryana or Himachal Pradesh.
Sometimes people from outstation vehicles get away by greasing the palm of the traffic cop with a few hundred rupees. Otherwise, they are shunted to the Traffic Police Lines, where a heftier fine must be paid for traffic violation.
No such trouble for women drivers in Chandigarh. I was amused to read a report in a leading national daily that girls and women drivers who get caught for traffic violations in Chandigarh are usually let off by traffic cops.
The reporter noted that an apology, the promise of not repeating the offence or “Sir please!” was enough to make the traffic cop gruffly reprimand the offender with “Madam ji, dobara galat drive mat karna” (Please don’t commit a traffic offence again Ma’am) and let her go.
Not that I am offended by this leniency towards women. I definitely advocate that girls and women drivers must follow all the traffic rules for their safety, and the safety of others on the road. But not challaning them for minor offences is fine.
Published in Hindustan Times