Published: November 16th, 2015
I am an engineer born and bought up in India. Traveled widely in India and Nepal, have written many travel
articles and short stories for magazines and newspaper India.
Do we live in Heaven?
Since its introduction into Indian market mobile telephone sets have slowly become an entire piece of Indian spirit. So a great deal so that it is really hard to see a public phone in any city of India. Nearly everybody in India owns a mobile phone. The public telephone booths have gone away as rapidly as they appeared everywhere in the eighties. You can find some of these phone booths in the bus terminus, outside the railway station serving as storage space for the vendors.
As time progressed mobile phones became smaller and smaller and so have increased the prospect of missing it. A used mobile telephone set can easily be swapped for some hundred bucks in India. I have been using a mobile phone for almost fourteen years and never lost one. I have traveled in crowded local trains, buses and even fell asleep while traveling. I have seen many friends and relatives lose their mobile phones, not me! It naturally builds up a confidence; my mobile phone cannot get stolen.
One day I returned home in Agra from a nearby town Etawa. It was a hot and humid summer day in the field. I had to travel in crowded public bus and auto. After a shower, I felt better and remembered I had to call a colleague. My mobile was not there where it should be. I started searching my pockets, table, my bag and even the closet shelves. I could not find it!
I went down to my landlord’s apartment and asked him to call on my mobile. Hoping on hope, I will be able to hear the ringer that will help me locate my phone. He immediately called on my mobile and waited for it to ring. His phone still pressed to his ear, he announced “Sir, it says that your mobile is switched off! Means you have lost or your mobile got stolen!” Now I knew for sure my mobile phone was pick-pocketed from my shirt pocket in the crowded bus or auto. My confidence about my mobile was shattered!
I could not remember exactly when and where it went missing. It was not an expensive handset and I was thinking of replacing it. For security reasons in India one is supposed to report the loss of your mobile phone at the nearest Police station within 24 hours. This is to protect the misuse of the mobile phone and to get duplicate Sims issued by the mobile company.
That night I typed a letter on my computer meant for the Sikandra Police Station to register the loss of my mobile. The letter reads as:
Dated: July 26, 2013
The Officer In charge,
Sikandra Police Station,
NH 2, Agra, U.P.
Subject: Loss of Mobile Phone
This is to inform you that my mobile phone bearing number 931818250 got lost while I was travelling from Etawa to Agra by bus/auto.
In case the phone is found please contact me at the below mentioned address.
Thanking you in anticipation
My name & signature
Gailana Road, Agra 282007.
The next morning I went to the nearest Police Station at Sikandra, Agra to register a complaint. The 10 feet by 10 feet room I entered had piles of files on the side racks, with a film of dust on them. The room has not been painted in years, two dim bulbs lit up the otherwise dark room. About a dozen blank looking young guys have been made to sit on the floor against the shabby wall. Didn't understand if they were criminals or just held back for interrogation. There were two tables around which four duty cops were sitting on very old wooden chairs. They were in duty uniform, but none of them wore shoes, all in their slippers. The wireless in the other room was going on, monotonously.
As I stood in front of a table one of them looked up and asked what I wanted? I explained to him I lost my mobile phone and wanted to register a routine complaint. He pointed to another fat cop with a head full of gray hair sitting on the other table; he was busy talking on the mobile.
I had to patiently wait for the cop to finish his discussion on the mobile then he turned to me "yes, what can I do for you?"
I once again explained about the loss of my mobile and handed him a copy of the letter I had typed on my computer. I did not expect the cops to get me back the lost mobile phone. Neither the handset was very precious to me. I only need a copy of the complaint letter stamped by the Police Station to get duplicate Sims. He took the letter from my hand and read it, and then he handed it back to me saying "Get the letter written in Hindi.” I was surprised!
I wanted to get the job done quickly, so I said “sir, I am not so good in writing Hindi and it is only a couple of lines in most simple English.” Expecting him to be a bit flexible and take this letter.
I was wrong! He was not impressed by my reply "I have to read, understand and write a report in my register in Hindi." He said pointing at the open register that lay in front of him. After I have explained everything he still needs to understand! But still I requested him once more and his response remained the same.
Seeing him sticking to Hindi for unforeseen reasons I decided not to quarrel with him. I requested him,” May I get a blank sheet of paper? Then I can try to write the letter in Hindi myself.” His answer was "buy one from the shop outside the police station."
Congratulations! Citizen friendly Police Force of Agra. You are very helpful.
I was losing my patience and cool. I asked the aged cop, "You are next to a world heritage site, Sikandra, the Tomb of Jahangir; here thousands of foreign tourists come every year. If one of them turn up to lodge a complaint, will you ask him to first learn Hindi and then come to make a complaint? Or you will accept a complaint in English?"
He stared at me for a few seconds, that was the look of a very offended man. As if, who has given you the right to ask all these questions? Then he quickly controlled himself, joined both his palm together and said in a low voice, “I am sorry, but I cannot accept your complain in English.”
It is very difficult to take an hour off work every day to go to the police station to report a mobile loss. I decided to give it a try in Hindi and finish the job. I went to the shop outside the police station but they would not sell a single sheet of paper. I have to buy a packet containing 500 sheets. I just need one, what will I do with the remaining 499 sheets?
Hindi might be the National language, but English is used and followed everywhere in India. Be it government departments, banks, post office, courts and the judiciary. I was surprised by the attitude of this cop, hell bent on not accepting anything in English or was it he did not like me!
I came back without being able to lodge the complaint, thinking I will come back after a few days to lodge the complaint. In that case I have to ensure this cops is not on duty and I have to lie about the lost date. Honesty will not necessarily remain the best policy. But there were more surprises for me!
A couple of days later I was telling this story to a friend. With great attention and patience he listened to my story. Then he smiled at me and asked "did you pay him some money or even offer to?”
“Why would I have to pay money to a cop? My mobile got lost and I am not demanding it from him? I wanted to simply register a complaint that it got lost!” I exclaimed
He laughed aloud and said " They charge Rs.100/- to register a mobile loss complaint! If you don’t pay how can your loss get registered? The corruption in this state is at this level my friend.”
Bribe to register a complaint with the cops? About something I have lost!
Surely then we are living in heaven!