I lost it twice this week.
No, not virginity (How I wish! But, that’s another story).
Besides, you can lose that only once, remember!
So, yeah, I lost it.
I was so damn pissed that I lost my cool. Twice in a week!
First, it was seeing The Last Samurai being towed away… But first, what’s The Last Samurai? The Last Samurai is TN-01-H-2505. It’s my bike, my companion, like my best friend Murugan, my bike too is what Mammooty in ‘Thalapathy’ describes Superstar: En Nanban, En Thozhan, En Thalapathy. (My friend, My companion, My commander-in-chief.)
The original warrior. Together, we had bravely fought many deadlines, destiny and dames.
So mine was The Last Samurai Suzuki probably manufactured and was also phased out like Samurais were in Japan long ago. The Samurai, if you remember, is the No Problem bike.
And truly, a no problem bike.
It’s light, compact and still macho. It still gives me 50 km/litre demanding no maintenance whatsoever, even after a decade of its existence. It’s just a simple old bike that nobody would wanna steal it.
It’s this harmless, innocent-looking thing that I parked outside the ATM a few days ago, right in front of the ‘Parking’ board (The Board said Parking and had an arrow mark pointing right).
I come back and find he’s gone.
Instinctively, I look for a police tow vehicle and there I see it, fifty metres away. I knew the police station was just another 200 metres away, so I begin to jog, with my orange helmet in hand. Now, anyone seeing me running with my ubiquitous helmet would have surely noticed what I was following.
It was embarrassing, physically tiring and mentally taxing. My stress levels shot up with every extra step and there was just one thought in my mind: “The bastards towed it away from a Parking Zone. How dare they?”
So I reach the Aminjikarai police station just the same moment as the tyres screech to a halt. As the men started unloading the bikes, I could see them drag out my bike and they had stuffed the side-cover of my bike into the pocket atop the tank. They damaged him!
I was so furious. I went over to the front cabin to see who the villain of the piece was. I could just see his back because he was on the driver’s seat and about to get out from the other side. As I jogged over to the other side, I pulled out my wallet and fished out my Identity Card. I knew I would need this now, more than ever.
So I come face-to-face with this fifty-something man taking a folded 100-buck note from a man who seemed to be pleading. Now, don’t we all know what that was?
Now, I was pissed as hell. I caught his hand with my right hand, flashed my card with the left hand, like we’ve seen the cops do in Hollywood movies.
“Hindu Reporter. What is this?”
The guy who offered the bribe realizes the man is in trouble. In an attempt to bail him out, he says, “Sir, it’s just the wages for lifting the bikes.”
The cop who’s visibly embarrassed asks: “What do you want, Sir?”
“You bloody take my bike from a Parking Zone, make me run 200 metres, you are taking money from someone right in front of my eyes and asking me what I want? Get down. Let’s go.”
He gets off and asks: “Sir, please don’t make noise. Tell me which bike.”
I point out that he’s even damaged the bike.
“It was in the No Parking Zone,” he says.
By now, I’d completely lost it.
I yell at him at the top of my voice. I tell him that it was a Parking Board and challenge him to prove otherwise. And soon, like it always happens it Madras, a crowd – members of the I-want-free-entertainment-club – gathers in front of the police station. More cops rush to his rescue. On learning I’m a journalist, they know they can’t be too nasty. So they invite me inside.
I walk in and bring the roof down. The corrupt cop is summoned in. He admits it was a board that said ‘Parking’ and that my bike was right in front of the board. “Parking is allowed only towards the right of the board, Sir. He had parked it right in front of the board.”
He knew his case was weak. He was soon asked to release the bike. They tried to make peace and I just had one question for them:
What if I wasn’t a reporter?
In another incident a coupla days ago, it was a fight with an autorickshaw driver. He had quoted a price, we negotiated and he finally agreed. A few metres later, he restarted negotiations cribbing about the distance, at which point we put our foot down and said ‘No.’ He said: “Get down then.”
And we did, stopped another auto, almost instantly. He asked for ten bucks for the distance he had brought us. I refused, he had left us stranded in the middle of the road and had the gall to ask for money. He started giving me a strong dose of words straight out of the heartland of Madras – the slums. That was it.
I sent my friends off in the other auto, got back into this one and said: Let’s go to the police station. You picked the wrong guy.
He readily agreed and started the vehicle and I’m thinking: “I just hope he doesn’t take me to some dangerous slum area full of bad guys.”
But soon, I figure, he’s just brought me back to the starting point – GRT Grand Days. And coolly says: “Now walk from here.”
Too bad for him, he didn’t realise there was a police booth bang opposite to the auto-stand. It’s another story that there wasn’t any cop inside it then, but I note down his number, punch the buttons of my phone and give him an ‘I-kill-you-bastard-look’. But then again, the point is, what could you have done if you weren’t a reporter?
He brought you back to the spot. He isn’t wrong anymore.
In the previous case of the policeman, he had given me back my bike. He wasn’t wrong anymore.
But the point of these stories: What is it that makes us angry?
I think it’s injustice. The untruth. It’s not that we can’t afford to pay ten bucks more than an auto-driver has demanded. Nor is it that we are stingy about to bribe a cop ten-twenty bucks to get the bike back.
We spend 40 bucks on a coffee at Qwikys or Barista. We spend 10 bucks on Parking at Sathyam. We spend ten bucks on a fone call that lasts more than five minutes on a mobile call. Then, why does ten bucks make us angry?
It’s because it’s not reasonable. We know it’s not right. It’s not fair.
I think it’s just human to dislike dishonesty, especially when you are the victim. It’s human to feel strongly about it and raise your voice against it.
Which is why when Amitabh Bachchan as the ‘angry young man’ or Superstar Rajnikant kicked rotten ass in the mid seventies, people cheered, they celebrated. A hero was reflecting public anger and living their fantasy of kicking evil butt. A matinee idol was born.
Cut back to 2004.
Bad asses, hide. For angry young Suderman is all set to roam the roads on his rejuvenated Last Samurai, which is expected back after a complete service and a new look – a freshly-painted shiny black skin with golden Japanese letters that read ‘Last Samurai,’ replacing the original red skin and Samurai logos. He he!