Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Cops and Karmas

This is yet another "It happens only in Mexico" kind of incident. The other one is here. In contrast with the latter one where the cops were at the height of idiocy, the former one makes them look more sound and sensible.

I was driving with few of my friends towards Cola de Caballo. Speeding on Carretera Nacional, I knew, was very vulnerable to clandestine cops and I religiously stuck to the speed limits. The road off the Carretera Nacional highway, narrowed down to almost quarter the width, with just 2 lanes. It was curvy, mountainous and snail paced. Unfortunately, we happened to encounter a fully-loaded mammoth bus which one could overtake easily by, forget walking, crawling. But the road was just 2 lanes and overtaking was deadliest crime.

I followed the bus for a while and it was getting on my nerve, it was so slow that I couldn't pull the gear to second. It was a curve to the left and I could clearly see that there was no on-coming vehicle. I turned the steering wheel, pressed the gas and the vehicle revved rapidly overtaking the bus in no time. As I heaved a deep sigh of relief, I was disturbed a cacophonic honk. I cursed the bus driver for that ugly noise and see in the rear mirror. What the !!!!!!

Transito, the transit police, who normally pounce on the highway was blinking his lights indicating me to pullover. Darn!!! I pulled over. Unlike the Indian police who would have greeted me "yaako boLi magane", he was a lot nicer and kinder. He came to me, shook hands and politely said "Buenas Tardes" and asked me to walk out of the car. They asked me show my license and I showed the colour photocopy of the Indian driving license I had. He asked me if it was really license, for he couldn't read English. He then asked me for tarjeta de circulacion, the registration card of the vehicle. I told him I forgot to get it, but luckily there was a receipt of car repair which bore my name and it matched with the name on driving license. Thankfully, he was convinced that I was the owner of the car. He then asked me if other passengers were Indian and I said, "Si, falta una, pero no pueden hablar Español".

He told me that they're confiscating my license and I had to go to their office in Santiago any day from Monday to Friday before 8:00PM, cough up the fine and collect my license. I pleaded to them not to do so in my broken Spanish, "Señor, es muy deficil para mi porque tengo mucho trabjar" (Sir it's very difficult for me, I have lot of work). He then asked if we can show them Indian currency since they had never seen it. I asked my friends if anybody had an Indian currency and Siddiq pulled out a hundred rupee note and handed over. I showed them the note pointing to Gandhi and told them the Mexican equivalent. Annie voluntarily pulled out a 20 renminbi note to show them some Chinese currency too. They saw both of them and returned them to me and asked me to see them on Monday.

I pleaded more and told them that I can pay the fine right away. Unfortunately they had not got their "ticket" book and they didn't want to accept dirty money without issuing me a ticket. They spoke something among themselves feebly, like a quick conspiracy. No!!! They were not planning to accept a huge bribe or something, but instead they were working out an alternative. They didn't want to trouble a foreigner to come all the way to pay the fine and at the same time they didn't want bribe. I was impressed by the way he solved the issue. With slight hesitation he said, "Is it possible for you to give each of us a foreign currency so that we can keep that as a memorabilia for catching a foreigner? It would be a kind of gift for us which we would remember forever and you can take your license".

I asked Siddiq if he had 4 notes, he had three. They agreed for three Indian bills and one Chinese bill which together cost me 100 pesos equivalent. It saved me 400 pesos (the fine I was supposed to pay was 500 pesos) and the painful task of driving back all the way on a weekday, finding the office of the transit police and paying up.

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As I was half way through this article, I was, unfortunately, caught by cops again!!!

I was heading for lunch with my lunchmates in an unknown colony. As I turned left from the signal and sped my car, a guy who didn't look cop made me stop for revving the engine in a 30Kmph zone. He asked me to pullover and asked me for licensia and tarjeta de circulacion. After the previous incident, I had kept them in the car. This time I had my Mexican friend Izkalli sitting next to me and she did most talking, though I could follow their conversation.

He told her that I need to pay 800 pesos as fine and obey all the traffic signs that were to follow. She tried convincing him that I'm a foreigner and was not aware of the speed zones over there. He said that it didn't really matter if I'm from India or Afghanistan, the traffic signs are the same everywhere. He then asked what do we all do? Where were we heading to? Izkalli replied to him that we were going for lunch.

Now comes the twist in the story. He then asked Izkalli, "Where is my lunch?" Izkalli told him that we can get him lunch from where we are going to eat. He then said, "No I want it now". Izkalli turned to me, "Do you have some money?"
"Yeah I do"
"Gimme some"
"How much? 200?"
"No 100 should be enough."

He then handed over my license to her and she neatly folded the 100 pesos bill, placed it underneath the license and handed over to him. He promptly returned the registration card and license and asked us to drive carefully.
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