On duty, all these years


Mekhri Circle, Bangalore, in 1995 was not a pleasant road to be driving a car or riding a two wheeler on. Given the post-liberalization boom, the availability of foreign brands in India and the slowly increasing levels of affluence in Bangalore, courtesy the new sunrise sector of Information Technology, meant that more and more vehicles were finding their way on the roads of the Garden City, but infrastructure development projects were not keeping pace with this growth. And nowhere was this more evident than the Mekhri Circle traffic signal.

masked girlStaying in one of the new localities of the city, Sanjaynagar in Bangalore North meant that Sita had to pass this signal at least twice a day, on the way to office and on the way back home. And the fact that she worked in a nationalized bank meant that she had to travel during the peak hours in the morning and the evening as well. While her trusty Kinetic Honda allowed her to zig zag her way through the traffic, the fact that there were so many more smarter riders and the additional fact that all of them seemed to be in a perennial hurry meant that Sita had to spent quite a few minutes at this particular traffic signal every day of the week.

forearm-tattoo-4On most days, during the third consecutive red light at this signal, she would notice the traffic policeman briskly going about his duties and regulating the frequent offenders who jumped the red light. What interested her the most about this particular cop were two things: the first was the fact that he was young and quite trim when it came to physique which is not something that the usual traffic cop looks like. In fact, he looked quite out of place in the traffic department without his potbelly and the nose mask which covered most of his face. And the second thing that she noticed him was his unusual tattoo of five stars that he had on his forearm.

The years went by, the traffic situation at Mekhri Circle only got worse with each passing month. And finally, the Bangalore civic authorities had to construct an underpass which would ease the traffic congestion situation, but by the time they actually planned and finished the underpass, the volumes of traffic had reached levels unmanageable by the underpass as well.

In the meantime, Sita grew old enough to retire from her job at the bank and settled down quite well in the Sanjaynagar area. And it had been around 12 odd years since she had actually ridden her two-wheeler through the Mekhri Circle traffic underpass.

Life in Sanjaynagar has settled down into a decent routine for her. She would get up in the mornings, go for her morning walk with her husband and a few other common friends of theirs, come back home, freshen up, have her breakfast and then go to a few spiritual classes (Bhagvad Gita, meditation, etc), and in general she kept herself quite busy. With this packed itinerary and her voracious love for books, she managed to keep herself engaged for most part of the day, and she was enjoying her retired life quite a bit.

guardBoth she and her husband always took their morning walk in the Dollar’s Colony Walking Track as it provided them with the opportunity to catch up with common friends almost everyday and it also provided them with a secure environment as the track itself was fenced with a polite Security Guard at the gates. In fact this guard was so polite that he smartly saluted her every morning and evening without fail.

On one of the days when Sita was enjoying her brisk morning walk, there was a commotion near the entrance of the Walking Track. When she reached near the place, she realized that a biker who had tried to snatch the chain of yet another morning walker had been apprehended by the Security Guard. She stood around and watched while the policemen arrived and took the chain snatcher away.

Impressed with the guard, she waited until the cops left and then congratulated him. He just smiled and smartly saluted her. Given that she was actually seeing him today, she noticed something familiar on his forearm, an unusual tattoo of five stars.

She had seen that tattoo before. If only, she could remember where.

Sitting down on the benches in the walking track, she furiously searched through her database of memories and then it all came back flooding to her. The Security Guard was the same smart traffic cop from all those years back. She went to him and confirmed this information with him. When he replied in the affirmative, it was then she realized why she hadn’t realized this before.

Back in the days when Ramu was a traffic cop, he had always covered most of his face with a nose mask to keep safe from the pollution. And now that he was a Security Guard, he always wore a full sleeved shirt. In the scuffle with the chain snatcher earlier today, his sleeve button had come undone which was why she noticed the unusual tattoo on his forearm when he saluted her.

It was then she realized that until people like Ramu still existed in this world, people who would turn up to work everyday and put in their best efforts despite rough weather conditions and bad traffic, the world would remain just that little bit safer.

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This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda. This weekend’s prompt had to include the line She had seen that tattoo before. If only, she could remember where which is the reason it has specifically been highlighted in the post.

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This post is one of Blogadda’s WoW picks for the weekend of Nov 17, 2013.

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31 thoughts on “On duty, all these years

    • @Bhagyashree, two words, manic obsession, which sadly is wearing off a little by little, you will surely see a drop in the frequency of posts 🙂

  1. Interesting tale. You use the prompt very well. On a different note, the job of traffic cops is not at all easy and they must have been putting a lot in it. Though, some of them do taint the reputation of the whole dept, good folks are always there!

    • @Diwakar, so true, there are so many good cops, good Govt servants, but then they all get painted with the same corruption color, don’t they?

    • @Corinne, yes, one among the hundreds of people that we take for granted in life, glad you liked the story and the new look of the blog 🙂

  2. There are still such people in public services who would stand up and do their jobs to perfection no matter what. Such people need to be appreciated to ensure that they know, the we value their efforts. Nicely written 🙂

    • @Ashwini, absolutely, folks like traffic cops, security guards, these are among the least appreciated professions in India, aren’t they?

  3. Well written…the most sincere people go unnoticed because they are always there. Is it not? Where ever it may be. The ones who are irregular are the oned whose names are remembered. Even though for the wrong reasons. Nice take on the prompt 🙂

  4. Quite an interesting story and a good use of the prompt.. 🙂 We sometimes forget that the Traffic police has a very demanding job, what with having to stand and man the serpentine traffic throughout the day, no matter what.

    • @iwrotethose, you liked it that much, huh! 🙂 Thanks 🙂 And yes, I am a ‘class apart’, just that you can decide what class it is when we actually meet and you get to know me better 😉

  5. Nice story, Jairam! The guy is such a treasure in today’s world. You know I often think about these traffic cops who spend their entire day in inhuman traffic and pollution. How must their own lives be? With that tattoo, I am sure no one will forget this cop.

    • @Rachna, yes, traffic policemen are probably the most unappreciated professionals in India today, glad you liked the post 🙂

  6. What a nice little story. a handful good people make a better place to live in and your etched character is one of them.

    • @Kalpana, yes, there are quite a few of these unsung heroes all around, just that we don’t get to see them very often, that’s all

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