GTS – Grand Theft Scooto
Though you may not guess it to look at me, the Hamish persona has always been the kind of honest, law abiding citizen that people write songs about (like ‘Bad bad Leroy Brown’ No, wait… scratch that. It’s not the theme I was looking for. Hmm… I can’t think of anything right now, but I’m sure there are some songs that fit the bill.) I was probably never the ideal candidate for the Model Citizen of the Year award, but my heart’s always been in the right place (in the middle of the thorax with the largest part slightly offset to the left). So it will be surprising for some to know that I was the direct accomplice of a motor-vehicle theft.
It is with a heavy heart (heavy, but still in the middle of the thorax with the largest part slightly offset to the left) that I shall now relate the incident which people have come to call GTS – Grand Theft Scooto.
It was on the day we had an auto strike in Bangalore. The auto drivers had placed some minor demands from the city. I don’t have any actual news reports about the demands, so, like any seasoned journalist, I’ll write down my guesses on what their demands were
1.They should legally double their rates because of a probable increase in petrol prices. Sure, 99% of the Bangalore autos run on the cheaper LPG, but they COULD have been running on petrol, so there’s a strong case for this.
2. They should no longer be obligated to take the passenger to his/her preferred destination. Passengers would still be free to voice their suggestions, but the ultimately, destination selected shall be at the discretion of the driver.
3. They should be legally enabled to demand money at knifepoint from random strangers. This would reduce red tape and forego the formality of taking people from one place to the other, which, when you think about it, is a pretty futile and unrewarding exercise. They would still be the same person at location B as they were at location A, except that they would be cursing at auto drivers by the time they reach location B.
Whatever the demands were, there were no autos on that day, and I had a project to run. Of course I can’t reveal anything about my project (It was top secret. You’d need a level 5 security clearance to get anything out of me. Level 5 security clearance, or strong arm interrogation tactics, such as twisting my left arm clockwise for about 12 seconds)
Part of my responsibilities included transporting certain materials from my office to a nearby hotel. The material in question was 5 kilos of the fried variety of Solanum Tuberosum (‘5kgs of potato chips’ simply sounds lame)
Me and my buddy, Arvind, had to borrow a black Kinetic Honda from another colleague of mine, Suresh. We left our office at around 4:00 p.m. and for a couple of hours, were blissfully unaware that we had crossed the line of lawfulness and were treading the path of fugitive anarchy.
As luck would have it, we had unknowingly taken a black Kinetic Honda that belonged not to Suresh, but a random stranger, because both vehicles looked about the same… and wonder of wonders…. the same key worked for both of them. By around 7:00 p.m., the random stranger was fuming and breathing fire from his nose at the apparent theft of his vehicle. He had already placed a complaint with the police, and was already waiting at the parking lot with a bunch of HIS colleagues, ready to start a mini-war. By this time, Suresh, and a couple of other mutual friends, had come to the parking lot, and Suresh promptly started scratching his head when he found his scooter in the parking lot; the very same scooter he had loaned to this humble narrator.
The random stranger I have mentioned in the previous paragraph pounced on them like a hungry cougar: a cougar with singular talents; a cougar trained to shout legal mumbo-jumbo at defenseless preys; a cougar who can threaten legal prosecution for auto theft with apparent ease. It took some time before my glib colleague, Bharath, was able to put in a metaphorical pacifier right smack into the cougar’s mouth. After that task, he called me up and broke the news of our slip into the dark side.
Arvind and I rushed to the spot, in time to return the stolen vehicle back to the owner, the metaphorical cougar, who was by this time, so happy at repossessing his scooter that he was purring like a metaphorical kitten.
He said he understood that it was an honest mistake. He also assured us that he would take back the complaint he had filed with the cops. But now, whenever I hear sirens blaring, my heart starts beating wildly… it is possibly no longer in the middle of the thorax, with the largest part slightly offset to the left.
When I hear sirens sounding in the distance, I find myself looking for bushes to jump into. Until you have yourself become a fugitive on the run, you’d never notice the severe dearth of jumpable bushes in Bangalore city.