Sunday, July 16, 2006
How I Stole My Own Car
It was a beautiful Sunday morning. I turned my head towards the sky and smiled as the first drops of rain caressed my face. I sighed in relief. The monsoon had finally arrived after the past months of intense 40 degree heat. As I watched the kids from my balcony splashing about, I suddenly felt that something was not quite right.
The sharp ringing of the telephone dragged me into the darkness inside. It was Dad, with a slight tremble in his otherwise strong voice calling from the local police station. He had been on his usual morning walk when he noticed that our car was missing. On questioning the chowkidar ( colony guard) he found out to his annoyance that some ground floor neighbours had got a cop friend of theirs to tow away our car on the pretext that it was stolen.
My mind flew back to the events of the previous days. I had parked near an empty house in my colony - just a few meters away from where I usually park. When I returned the next day, I was dismayed to see that someone had dumped a load of 'malba' (construction material) both in front and behind the car. As I stood there hoping the giant heap of rocks would magically disappear, a construction worker came up to me. He had a silly smirk on his face as he jauntily told me to move the car. I asked to speak to the person he worked for, as I knew it was impossible to move the car over the enormous speedbreaker he had created. He said his boss was not available so I coolly said I would move the car later. I was absolutely unprepared for what would happen that night.
At around 9.00 pm the colony was plunged in total darkness due to a power cut. A neighbour who personally knew a constable called him over with his tow truck. Four other neighbours gathered as witnesses saying that our car was stolen, did not belong to anybody and was parked there unattended for years. The police ignored the license number which would have proved that it was registered to an address within the colony. They had togetherl conspired to distribute the hefty bribe they would collect from us when we came for our car. After abusing the colony guard who was too shit-scared to speak up, they dragged the forlorn car out of the colony gates.
The sound of my Dad yelling if I had dozed off brought me back to the present. I twisted the extension cord nervously, hoping that he did not need me to come down to the station. Images of junkies and pickpockets being thrashed by the cops while their women anxiously waited outside flitted through my mind. Dad said the car was lying in the police parking lot. He asked my brother to meet him outside the police station.
Eventually, in the evening we did get the car back safely without being fleeced by the cops. We were lucky to 'know someone' high up at the police station. He was furious at the constable for not keeping any record of the incident. He told us to immediately take away our vehicle. The car however refused to start as it had been badly banged about by the tow truck. We paid a mechanic 100 bucks to push start it and drive away.
As for those vicious neighbours, we yelled at them before parking on the far side of the colony. No point risking the windows being smashed or tires punctured. No idea why someone would do something nutsy like this. Just for the record they were a group of 'Sardars'.
India Car Police Stories