Sunday, January 21, 2007

When the Scruples bother you too much...

There was a time when I was rarely ever bothered by my conscience..or mostly it was about things so inconsequential,I tend to laugh at how much I wud giv importance to those little things back in my childhood...
But now that I have reached adulthood,past the time when I cud leave the decisions to my dad and forget abt that I am reponsible as a citizen of this country that i stay in..I dont have the same liberty afforded to me in the warmth and ignorance and bliss of the childhood.

Wondering wht this is all abt??

Let me come straight to the point..
Last month i had been to my sister's place at Tarapur.One has to take a shuttle from Virar or a Gujrat bound expresss for reaching Boisar,which is near Tarapur.
When i was coming back to Dadar,me and my bro,my sister and my bro-in-law,the 4 of us got tickets for the Saurashtra Express..Now when you get into the long distance trains,you are not supposed to board the Sleeper or Reserved bogies..thr r 2 separate bogies known as the General compartment for passengers like us..
Naturally,u r expected to get into them and nowhere else.
Not that i didn't knw this basic piece of was thr sumwhr at the back of my mind...
So, we 4 were waiting at the platform for the train to arrive..chatting and whiling away the time until then..none of us noticed that we were at the wrong place for the General bogie would not come where we were standing at..tht was the place for the Reserved bogie..
Eventually when the train did arrive,we all boarded the Reserved compartment without any qualms for it had slipped our minds to take care of that little technicality!
But after we got in and the train started,I realized sumthing was amiss and mentioned to my bro-in-law tht this might be the reserved bogie we got into..But he allayed my fears saying it was a free-for-all(if u knw wht i mean!) compartment and I shudn't bother myself much over it...
Suddenly thr was a commotion nearby wth 2 passengers squabbling over a seat and one of whom informed the other rather testily tht he had resevation for the entire berth and cud sleep on it if he wanted to!!Of course,now we were pretty sure we HAD got into the wrong compartment and decided to get down at the next station..
But as luck wud have had it...a Travelling Ticket Examiner came along the very next moment and asked me to show my ticket..So,me and my bro showed him wht ticket we had and the TTE took immense pleasure in informing me that i was in the wrong compartment and had to get down at the next station...after paying the required fine of course!!
The TTE hadn't bothered to chk my sis's and bro-in-law's tickets and thy were obviously not interested in drawing any attention to thmselves in this case..(my sis was already asleep by this time!!)
Well,i knew i was in the wrong and had no problem doing wht i was told to do..Then the TTE called me at the gangway near the door away from other passengers.There were a few passengers caught ticketless,others without a proper ticket like me standing there waiting to hear his verdict..
But the TTE was in no mood to take out his challan book and fine anybody,but happily accepted whatever the caught passengers gave him..for some he charged Rs.50,others 100 bucks..depending upon how much thy had grovelled..
First thing he had told me in front of the other passengers was to shell out 640 bucks--320 each for me and my bro..
Incidentally i did not hav more thn 250 bucks wth me then in my wallet(or so i thot!!),and i told him so..
So he asked me to pay up 100 bucks instead and get down at the next station like he did wth others..
Here's when the trouble conscience pricked could I pay a bribe to this dishonest officer and weedle out of the situation??!!
I told him i wud get down at the next station and take out money from the ATM and pay up whtever was the actual fine..The TTE looked at me for a second or two like i was barmy or maybe had a few nuts loose in my head..Someone present there even asked me if i was stupid!!
paagal ho gaya hai kya?? hehehe..
I said No..i made a mistake and i am ready to pay for it..whtever be the cost..i dont care!!
I dont think the TTE had ever met a person so willing to pay up the fine and not ready to compromise when the said fine was Rs.640..not a small sum for the average Joe, is it??
There was quite an argument between us and tempers flared on both sides..I was insisting i wud pay him once i get down and take out money from the ATM..he was insisting he was doing me a favor by letting me off lightly in 100 Rs.,if i didnt listen to him,i wud hav to go to the police station and all tht crap..So i told him i dont care.If he wants me to pay anything it will be all or now,the onlookers had had quite the entertainment, most were coaxing me to giv him wht ever he was demanding..
It was then that my brother took out a 100 Rs. note from his pocket..quite the practical bloke,ain't he??:)

The TTE,by now too frustated wth my antics decided to giv me a receipt for 320Rs. as a single person's fine..Suddenly i remembered,i always keep 500 bucks spare in the inside pocket of my wallet in case of any emergency..Quite happy wth myself i took it out and told the TTE to make another receipt of Rs.320 for i had the required amount...
That did it for him i guess..My bro was too astonished to say anything other than 'arrey..' at this apparent stupidity of mine...
I will always remember what the TTE said to me then:
"Arey,main itna dayawaan ban raha hun...aur tum kyun Raja Harishchandra banna chahate ho??!!"
And i told him its not abt being someone like Raja Hasishchandra or sumthing..just that there are some who believe in honesty at some levels...hehehe

But he didnt budge, just one receipt of Rs.320 he gave me and told me not to worry abt any more problems from anyone else...I was free to travel in that same compartment until Dadar comes and shud take advantage of many a passengers alighting at Virar to take a seat,relax and travel comfortably for the rest of my journey!!!

But i got down at Virar along wth my bro and took a local train to Dadar.When i asked my bro if he didnt realize we took the wrong compartment,he quipped he tried telling me at Boisar,but I was too distracted and busy checking out two hot females on the platform!!
Well,I was guilty as charged..its not often u get to see nice birds in that part of the town!!;)

I don't knw why this guy made it a prestige issue..but i did want to check wth the Station Master at Virar, the validity of the receipt he gave me!!
I didnt get time to do tht however and the ticket along wth the fine receipt still lies wth me till date..maybe i will do it next time i go to m'bai,who knws...hehe;)

This was not my first experience wth the authorities when the issue of bribing ur way thru came into the picture..i have been caught before travelling ticketless thrice, when i used to do it just for the thrill of it..pretty lame,i know...however,i had paid the full fine then..each time so!!
And then when i was in college, i had altered my quarterly pass so that i cud use it well past the expiry date..Forgery!!!I cud be jailed if i had been caught,hahaha..

Where was this conscientious person then,u might wonder..
I used to get a kick out of robbing the govt of some money..but tht's in the past..
Then i bought a bike for myself,and with it came the driver's license i had to get from the RTO..
Hordes of agents stand outside the RTO office waiting to pounce on you if u giv 'em any indication u r out thr to get the driver's license!!I had decided thn i wud try to do this on my own...without paying any middlemen a single rupee..nor the RTO officer who issued me the license anything!
And i didnt!!I had to stand in the queue twice to get it done,but i did it all by myself without any help from those agents,one of whom had so helpfully remarked to me tht i wud never get the license without paying any commission to all parties concerned!!
Well,the RTO officer did give me receipts worth Rs.90 as my help to the fund for widowed wives of police personnel,without asking me if i did want to contribute in the first place!!!
But i didn't crib much as i hoped it really went for a good cause and was not a front for those people to collect money from the junta like thy did, in a backhanded way!!
Wht ever..i thot,and was very satisfied wth myself in proving that pesky agent wrong!!
Then came the compulsory helmet rule and all hell broke loose in Mumbai city..
The city police was supposed to fine 100 bucks to every rider without a helmet and most of them took it quite seriously ..most of the time ..People got away with paying 20-30 bucks one always tried:)
I was caught once (yes only once when i was on the rider's seat:P) But i didnt have 100 bucks wth me thn..and didnt want to surrender my license ,go home and pay up the fine..Money was scarce for petrol then, and i told my conscience to shut up..
Quite the hypocrite,eh??But after i came home,i felt so bad wth myself..i decided enuf of more bribes ever!!!
Little did i know this resolve of mine was to be tested in days to come...
I needed to apply for my passport for i was thinking abt giving the GRE test thn..
As is always my norm,i kept procrastinating and one day i realized i wud hav to postpone the exam date coz i didnt hav the passport !!!
but even after paying 1800 bucks extra for postponing the GRE appointment,i didnt take the matter urgently..
Boy ,did i pay for it!! when the time came to apply for the passport,i was told i cud get it done in 15 days if i paid 1000 bucks extra to the middlemen...But i decided to go ahead wth it on my own..
wht i didnt knw was the local police are in cahoots wth these middlemen,and if u dont go wth an agent thy wont fwd ur file to the verification dept..Tired of waiting ,i caught hold of 2 of my friends and went thr myself,completed all the formalities and asked for my passport..
The police officer told me in simple terms : "200 rupaye kadha"..i was surprised at his audacity to ask for a bribe in such a shameless and obvious manner.And being the smartass that i am,i asked him "what for??" A simple question really,ain't it?
And like a seasoned player of the game that he was,he told me elegantly to fuck off and come later...

Eventually,i had to shell out a 100 bucks as consolation to both of our egos..but the damage was done..
I didnt get the passport in time for my exam and i didnt have the heart to tell my dad i wanted to postpone the exam again..

Why shud one compromise on his principles?If u bliv in sumthing,u shud also have the courage to standup for it,stick to wht u bliv..rt??

Me and one of my best friend from college had decided never to pay any bribe and all that stuff in the final sem of my BE..
I know he will always stick to it..But when the time comes,i had thot...will i be able to hold my own against this rotten system??

I didnt knw until i had to pay my taxes this year...last yr,i decided to be generous to the govt and as atonement to my earlier forgery crimes,i paid the tax in full....more than 4 grands,actually..tht more thn made up for it,i bliv...Yes,i didnt show any HRA either!!
(Now its a different matter altogether tht i cudnt hav shown any investment even if i wanted to..i didnt hav my PAN card until then..hehheeehe..procrastination wat else??)
But his year,if i dont show any investment i have to pay almost 43,000 in tax..and i am defintely not that generous to gift it to the govt.!!!
How far do i go howevr??The HRA exemption i am eligible for is Rs.2900 but i pay only Rs.2200 as rent..
I dont want to get fake receipts from the brokers illegally showing my house rent as Rs.3000!!
I dont mind paying Rs.1020 extra in this case...
Same the case with my medical bills too...where wud i get bills worth Rs.15000 to evade the 30% tax on it??
It feels all so unethical and i know i will come back home feeling horribly disgusted wth myself i did when i paid the 30 rs bribe to the traffic havaldar once..
No..once was enuf..

I dont know how long i wud be able to stick to my decision of not paying any bribe or cheat or act dishonestly...someone told me once, thr comes a time in ur life when u r at a crossroad...whr u dont hav the soft option..whr u have to choose one of the two things,which might decide the course of ur life ahead...will u then giv up all ur beliefs, compromise on ur integrity and honesty??
and i had said..only time will tell!!

So trite..yet so true!!!
But i am gonna try as far as i can...tht much i know!!


chintamani said...

so what will you do if u are caught by a policeman and they threaten to turn you in....iff you dont pay up??? and they r pretty determined about that what will you do fight it out with them or simply pay up.....

Anonymous said...

Gooood one dude!!...i knew sometimes its very difficult to stand by ur own principles especially if ur helpless and want to get it done quickly....and thats where v r distinguished frm gr8 ppl(e.g.Gandhiji,bhagat Singh)).....but being an ordinary person..v can always try to improve our mental strength through such experiences and not to repeat the things which r completely unacceptable to our conscience.

Kumar Rahul said...

You did right by not paying. I was also caught WT on platform at Andheri, when I had thrown away the ticket. And I too paid the full fine, and later confirmed with the station master that I have been fined right. Once, I missed my bus stop, and was fined. But in your case, the dilemma was greater. Kudos to you for keeping yourself intact. Keep it up.

Sukhbir said...

shabbbaash mere cheeteh !!!