As I was returning home this evening, disappointed that an interview with a politician was cancelled in the last-minute, I was stopped by a traffic policeman on Nandidurga Road. I thanked my stars as I knew I had all my documents in place in my two-wheeler. He very politely asked me to show my insurance papers and emission test, which I did. He saw my insurance papers and said they were going to expire by the end of this month. "Get it done", he said like a reminder. I told him I had already renewed it and the papers were ready, at home. He then asked to see my driving license, which I again obliged to. As I put everything back in place and got ready to leave, the cop said, "Last year I saw my insurance papers and it had been about a month since it had expired. I had completely forgotten. I immediately went and got it done".
My mind slowly relaxed, letting go of the disappointment.
We continued our conversation in Kannada. I asked him who checks documents and licenses for traffic policemen. Murugesha (from the name on his badge) said nobody checks for them. "It is not about checking. You need to do for yourselves. You wear a helmet to protect yourself, not because we will check. You get your bike insured, so that it helps you and your family later". Murugesha told me it’s wrong that people do these things only for the sake of being checked by traffic policemen, instead of doing it for themselves.
I told him I was a journalist, handed him my card and a copy of Citizen Matters, got back on my bike and left, with a smile.
Murugesha made a simple, but valid point. We always do things because there are rules that say you have to do them. Something as simple as wearing a helmet should be done to protect your head, not to escape paying a fine to a cop.
I don’t know why, but my day was made, all thanks to the cop who stopped me.