Woman on the Lose

.. I know, you think it should be “Loose”.. read the post first 🙂

Just read this: http://www.purba-ray.com/2012/03/ugly-side-of-gurgaon.html

Reminded of my own Indian police “encounter”. They say you learn things only through your own experiences. As a young-ish student at my MBA school in Bangalore, I lost my phone. It was one of the better phones I had ever owned till then, it was relatively new and freshly flicked off my brother and I had many precious messages on it, having just started dating the now-husband. Everyone was losing something or the other on the campus those days, I remember. Must have been either a freak staff member or an efficient kleptomaniac. We’ll never know. Anyway, I called Vodafone and told them to get me a duplicate SIM. My red-tape dance had started. I also remember being desperate to get a phone – any phone, in my case a borrowed handset – working, because we were to leave for Goa that night on a short trip and my parents had wanted that one thing – for me to be available on phone at all times. Damnit! I remember running from one end of the city to another because there are only “select” outlets of Vodafone where this “service” was available, being  kept waiting for eons before I was informed that an FIR was an absolute necessity, rushing to a police station where they almost threw me out of the premises for being in the wrong “area station” and then embarking on a rickety rickshaw ride to a godforsaken area police station which was literally in the middle of a jungle. All in a city where I didn’t speak the language. Resigned, I had the good sense to buy a new number from one of the Vodafone stores on my way, because I understood that the duplication certainly wasn’t getting done that day, or that week, or that lifetime. (What would you know? This service of Vodafone is not in just a few select stores! :D)

Why I’m on and on about this spiel of mine, is what I’m about to say next. The single thing I remember the most from that day is how I was treated in that police station. Leery, arrogant, ill-mannered – this is what just begins to describe our cops. Standing in that dusty little place where you passed a courtyard surrounded by lock-up area to get to the main desk, I was told that I would have to wait before I got the FIR, but not before all eyes in the room had given me the once-over. One of the cops, talking to somewhere a few inches below my face, asked me to sit. I told them I couldn’t come back. I was a student, I had classes. A ridiculous looking form carrying barely any English or Hindi, and torn at the edges, was shoved my way. The whole place buzzed with flies. Eyebrows shot up when my Permanent Address mentioned “Delhi”. I felt… unsafe. In a police station. A girl student, speaking in Hindi and English, wearing jeans, having no phone, and no means of transport back from a dilapidated corner of the city trying to get them to stamp and sign that fucking form. I must have been delusional is all I have to say for my 6-years-younger self. On some whim, I told them that my Institute Office will have to speak to them next then, if I didn’t get this FIR. I’m not sure why but that seemed to matter to them, but I was on my way in 10 minutes with a piece of paper that established only three things – That the phone was “missing”. That anybody hoping to ever get it back needed a quick hike to real life. That now Vodafone could get me my old number.

As I walked out of the police station, I heard a catcall from one of the cell inmates. And a chuckle that followed from the cop squatting outside. Good thing I don’t understand the language, and even nicer that people find love and friendship everywhere, even when they’re rotting behind the bars.

Walking back to the main road as fast as possible, having just learned a lesson in life and shaken from the surreal experience, I was thankful for the auto that agreed to take me back to the hostel (you can’t always say that for the autowallahs of Bangalore) and I had finally got why people so forcefully claim – “Police chowki koi shareef ladkiyon ke jaane ki jagah nahi hoti“. Indeed. If you’re a law-abiding citizen and have the audacity to lose something, please don’t be a woman. If you have the misfortune of being one, please don’t report it. If you are idiotic enough to want to do that, please beg someone to accompany you. And you’ll learn this lesson too.

This is what the now-husband told me – “What?! You went to a police station! Alone???? You know, you’re not as smart as you think.” Le sigh. I married him.

Go read that post above. What is your Indian cop story? Share it. That’s the only thing we can do.


One thought on “Woman on the Lose

  1. Two Indian cop stories, actually. One in Bangalore – pretty much the same as yours. Although they did hear me out and gave me the piece of paper in 20 minutes flat, the leering eyes were everywhere. So were the chuckles and “Madam keep your things safely. How we will find this?”. Another in Leh, of all places. R lost his phone there. And they were by far the nicest people I have ever met. But that says nothing about cops. All it says is that Leh is a nice, friendly holiday destination.

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