June 26, 2007

Anyone ready to Challenge me in doing this feat?

Hop into your car (be it a Maruti, a Honda City or a Mercedez)...Turn On the ignition switch....drive it stylishly into the city roads....spot a nice vehicle (like a Mahindra & Mahindra Jeep or a Eicher Tractor)....set your car right behind this mini truck....Smile!.....transfer your weight to the accelerator peddle and ram the mini truck with your car :-)

Wondering what I'm talking about? Ahh, thats something I did this morning - rammed a mighty Mahindra Bolero with my baby Hyundai Santro! No....it was not to find a place in the Guinness Book!...it was a road accident.

Having said that, an accident report is never complete without the cops, and in India, a story that involves cops and accidents is never complete without money! To put it in simple terms, cops in India are closely associated with bribe. And, I had my first experience (hopefully the last!) today.

It was about 09:40Hrs when the accident happened. Both the vehicles, my car and the monstrous vehicle I'd hit, were made to clear the road and we had to park the vehicle on the road side. I was filled with shock and darkness on seeing my lilliputian car's front portion damaged like a boxer's face. The bonnet was smashed and so was the front bumper and the headlights. It was about 10:00Hrs when the police investigation team arrived at the spot and noted down the details of both the vehicles involved. A cop from the investigation team then got into my car and we drove down to the local police station.

The police station investigation cell was nothing but a thatched room with walls made of a material that had more of earth and less of bricks. The sunlight entered the room through the entrance door only. The room adjacent to this cell was a resting room for cops - found 4-5 cops in there resting (seemed to me like four buffaloes in a contamination bin). I was asked to wait outside this cell for more than an hour. Its been a cloudy day today, and the humidity was in its highs. I was called in at around 11:10Hrs.

The Sub-Inspector of Police for that jurisdiction asked me to sit on a bench on the other side of his wooden table. This was his opening statement - "Sir, where are you working?"...to which I said "I work at Alwarpet". (Not getting what he wanted to know) The Sub-Inspector again asked "Which company are you working?"...and I said "IBM". He immediately asked me "What role do you play?"....(Ahh, he has finally narrowed down!)..and I told him "I am a programmer and lead a small team" (to underplay. Giving my real role will raise the bribe-bar!). Then he told me "Sir, there are two options - either you can go to the court and pay a fine, which will take you a lot of time and money. I can help you in a better way too - you can pay the fine here and finish the formality in 5minutes". (Ah, that revealed the money-hungry cop) I told him that I would prefer to finish the formality at the very moment in the station. (That brought a smile on the cop's face) He said "Okay Sir, you will need to pay a fine (for a cop, this term that refers to bribe) of INR 2000." I ended up paying the fine.

This was not all! Then came the driver of the vehicle ahead of me - "Please do something for the damage. My vehicle owner will otherwise take it from my salary"...I told him that I can pay a mx of INR 500 (as it was just a step that was broken in his vehicle). But the driver insisted that it would cost more and that the owner would deduct the amount from his salary....he claimed that he was the bread runner for his family. (Oh, that triggered the humanitarian in me) I agreed to pay him INR 1000.

Thats not all! The cop was now wondering how to make more money! He then took that driver into task for not having an insurance for the vehicle (which seemingly expired in February this year). By this time, I had received my Accident Report Certificate, which I needed to claim motor insurance for the repair. Opportunity strikes only once! I told the cops and made my way out of that dingy investigation cell!

Net-Net, I had to spend INR 3000 for bribe and compensation (which will never get into the hands of the driver!) for getting a certificate of accident. I take this opportunity to give a few tips to the readers (in case you ever happen to fall into such a situation, which You Will hopefully Not!):
  1. Firstly, stay really cool. This helps you tackle the situation really well
  2. Approach the other part involved in the accident, and propose for a compromise (if you have hit them from behind) else ask him if he will bear the damage (if you were hit from behind)
  3. On agreement, just say a big NO to the cops (who will manage to appear in the scene from nowhere), and tell them that you both have agreed on a compromise
  4. Call up your vehicle dealership/ service station and explain them the situation
  5. Drive down to your service station after duly settling the damage with the other party involved
Thanks to Hari for sharing these tips (he just called me to tell this :-) )!
Had I known this earlier, I could've potentially saved INR 2000.
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