Welcome to Haryana

… now fuck off.

That the north is full of violence is something we all know. I don’t usually talk about it because linking to another bit of violence achieves nothing. In fact as Jammie says, we deserve credit for the art and culture and creativity that manages to flourish in the midst of it all. But last night something happened that really bothered me.

My parents are in town and we were out for dinner along with my aunt and her kids, Cousin J and K. People have often warned us not to do late nights in Gurgaon but I take it with a pinch of salt as the fears of paranoid people. It was midnight and we were all well-fed, content and very sleepily heading home. There was a traffic jam up ahead and we stopped. No one really paid attention. The OA who was driving finally got off to see what the hold up was and my mum was about to join him when I told her not to get off in Gurgaon in the middle of the night. The Bean was curled into my lap and the Brat in my dad’s arms.

The OA went by himself and didn’t come back for a while. I began to panic. Cousin K offered to get down but we were all jammed into the back of the car and seats needed to be folded for him to get out. While we were still discussing it the OA came back and got in, traffic began to move and we drove on. Up ahead a cop waited for everyone to pass and then dragged the road barrier in front of us. I don’t think we realised what was happening. It struck us all together. He was blocking us off!

And then in the headlights of the car he glared menacingly at the OA and said – “Ab tu aa ja. Utar ke  baat karte hain. Side mein laga, tere ko batata hoon.”  He had been stopping truckers in the middle of the road and taking bribes. The jam was because he was bargaining with them. The OA had coldly asked him to conduct his dirty business somewhere else instead of holding up traffic. I don’t know what prompted the man to do that because it was just such a dangerous thing to do. Taking on Haryanvi cops at midnight.

And then while we all watched him framed in the headlights,  a couple of other louts walked out from the dark. Not uniformed cops. Just louts who hang around there helping him enforce law. Probably support from some local thugs or politicians. The OA and I were horrified. This was the road to our house. One we took all the time. Thankfully it was a cold night and so the windows were up and the doors locked. They surrounded our car and looked in – surveyed the scene – only one adult man worth the fight – three older people, two women and a young boy.  Then they began to hammer on the car and on the windows. Bang, bang, bang – terrifying the kids who clung to us. The OA took a moment to consider. It was his father in law’s SUV and his entire family in there.

And then we all began to murmur, absolutely terrified, Move, move, move. My father, an older man frustrated and hampered by grandson in arms and family in the back seat said – ‘He’s bluffing, rush him.’ The OA knew that of course but he was just torn by the family sitting in the car, the risks he’d be taking with them as well as a vehicle that was not his own. Once he had their blessing he stepped on the pedal and gunned for the cop who just shot out of the way realising that we were not scared. We wove through the barriers he had dragged to stop us and we were out with barely an inch to spare, my father’s precious car safe. And then we needed to take a U-turn and these guys jumped the divider and gave chase. We were in a car so naturally we were faster, but they chased us down the road for quite a while. Not until we’d turned into our gated community and parked did my heart beat return to normal. I would have frozen in terror but the OA has very cool nerves that get us out of bad situations often.

I have in my teens jumped red lights or skipped checking for registration with my brother and other male friends. The method when you escaped was simple. The pillion rider dropped low and covered the registration plate with their hands or a register. Since I was the pillion rider I was usually at risk in case the cops whacked us with a stick. Anyhow, they were cheap college thrills.

But sitting  there in the car with my slowly ageing parents, my children in my arms, my loved ones around me and the OA at the receiving end of their ire, nothing was funny. It has left everyone rather upset and my father spent the morning planning a letter to the news  channels about people being harassed by cops instead of being protected. I tried to tell him this is common in Haryana but he was too upset to listen. It’s been 24 hours and I am still worrying about it. I am so glad the OA was driving because he is definitely the best driver in our family. Often Cousin K drives us back on late nights because he enjoys driving and has recently learnt and got his licence. The roads are empty and we are in no rush to get home so its good practice for him. I was so glad for the way things worked out and I am so grateful that we didn’t get off and get dragged to some local thana for having the audacity to comment on their bribe taking.

Thankfully my parents will take their car and leave in a couple of days so noting the registration won’t matter. I just hope that cop is not put on duty in this area because I don’t want the OA driving past him ever again. I know this is nothing unusual and people have experienced worse in Haryana. But I miss Delhi all the more after this and wish we had never moved here. The roads are often deserted in stretches and the cops are terrible. For now, I’m getting into bed with my little family and hugging them close, glad that nothing worse happened.

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149 thoughts on “Welcome to Haryana

  1. Share your sentiments MM.
    Hate gurgaon and esp this part!
    I understand some DLF phases are better…but yes I miss Delhi tooo.
    AJ is adamant about not doing late nights in Gurgaon…he is stubborn and nothing can budge him to do it (though my nagging does sometimes)…I understand his concerns but it frustates me, but, this just reinforces his fears 😦

  2. I’m terrified reading this. But glad you guys are safe. I am worried because my brother’s now working and staying in Gurgaon 😦 It reminds me of something much much worse that happened to the husband about a couple of years back in Mumbai.

  3. O.M.G. :-O I am horrified!!!

    Thank God you and your family are safe. Thats a bad situation to be in, with or without children. May the devil take the cop and his gang!

    I had heard that law and order situation in Gurgaon is bad but no one that I know personally ever had to face a situation. Reading your first hand experience is giving me the creeps.

    My husband’s company has a huge office in Gurgaon and he is contemplating taking a transfer there as we are planning a move back to India. He is of the opinion that if/when we do, we take up residence in Gurgaon. Now I am having serious doubts 😦

  4. Glad to hear that you are all safe.
    India’s law & order is in such a pathetic state, that approaching a police man or police station is the last resort. I am also very frustrated with the helplessness of a common man in India.

  5. Hey MM,

    Glad you all made it home safe. My cousin who worked there told me that such things are common and the local junta has a very crude/rough attitude, where everyone wants to settle with a fist tights.

    I am from Mumbai and have traveled alone at odd hours and luckily never encountered such a thing.

    I am torn between “do we stand up to this” or have a “Jaane do, its not our headache” attitude?

  6. Wow… it does sound scary and courageous to keep a cool in the tense situation! Very eery, somehow you dont see this side of Gurgaon on all the glossy pamphlets I see descirbing the city’s charm!

    I am so sorry to rad this, but very happy that the family is safe now!

  7. Oh god! This sounds very scary, when I felt so scared reading this, I can only imagine what you might have felt having experienced this first hand. Please move from Gurgaon to a place that is safer, Bangalore is better, I am sure you will love it and there are gazillion good schools and your kids will have no problem getting admitted.

    Please be safe and always be on your guard.

    Deepa

  8. I think you should register a complaint with the police, an FIR. And retain a copy. This is going to happen again. Then you’ll have to take it up. I am terrified. I won’t say “take care” and all that. You have to do something about this. It’s about the OA’s safety. I’m too numb to think. I’ll mail you tomorrow.

  9. I lived in Gurgaon in the early 90s. Gurgaon then, was not what it is today. It was a small town in Haryana. I no longer live there but people say it is the most happening city in India now. From what you have written, I gather there has been sadly no change at all in the attitude of local folks. The change is only in terms of multinationals, skyscrapers and gated communities coming up and perhaps the gradual extinction of the word “middle class”.

    I am glad you all came out safe from the whole ordeal.

  10. ..and I thought such incidents happen in my part of the world only! Back home for a month, and I am getting used to drunk/high-on-pain-killer cops frisking(read: harassing) me. More of a pain-in-the-ass than a ‘protector’!

    Respect the OA for speaking up against the corrupt cop. But, me don’t think it is a good idea to be in the bad books of bad cops. Yes, that’s the ‘coward me’ speaking 😦 Of course, he knows better.

    Glad you guys are safe. Be safe.

  11. aiiiyoo! I was short of shitting in my pants just reading this post. Stay safe, MM. And the bit about you being the pillion with a register…really? hahahha. What a fun thing you are. 😀

  12. God…this is really scary MM. Just reading this post frightened me so much, I can imagine your plight of having to go through this in real. Is it not possible to file a complaint against this cop at a police station or may be someone with higher authority so that he learns a lesson.

  13. I know the north is supposed to be more unsafe but this kind of violence or the threat of it is present all over in. My brother-in-law in Bangalore had an incident when he was driving home latish one night. The road was empty and the guy on the bike behind him kept honking, so he slowed down adn waved them past. For some reaon, they got offended and decided to pick a fight. They kept edging him to the side of the road till he was forced to stop. Then when he got out to reason with them, one guy took his helmet nad bashed it on ym bro-in-laws head. he fell to the ground but somehow recovered and when the next blow was about to land, he landed up a punch himself and the guy was so surprised he fell over. His friend got scared and ran off. My Bil called his friends and they took the guys bike with them and told him to come the next day and collect it. Of course, he decided to come with some thugs. Luckily, my bro-in-law had thugs of his own. Funnily, both the thugs knew each other and ended up turning on the guy with the bike! Moral of the story – in India, you have to at least be able to land your own punches. and know your own thugs. I’ve been witness to these kind of incidents in Bombay too. Of course, when there are cops it’s even worse but cops function exactly the same way. Gurgaon may be worse but I dont think anywhere in India is safe.
    PS: so glad it ended safely and fingers crossed for the OA on his drives on that road.

  14. Phew MM.that’s scary. i hope none of you encounter this cop again! These r the times u feel happy u are in a place like Mumbai…not that it wont happen…but i dont think it’s a regularly.

    Hey..great idea..move to mumbai 🙂

    • I’ve grown up in Mumbai, and have lived through the riots in December ’92 and Jan ’93, and the blasts the following March. Mumbai is no longer the same it was before that, and it’s no longer possible to feel safe when late- I remember coming home with my mother at 11.30 pm in 1983, walking home from the station- around 2kms- without worrying about safety. It isn’t possible now. Still, I suppose it IS better than Gurgaon.

      • I used to take a cab back from the airport/office at between 10 and 11 p.m. every single day while working in Mumbai. Never once felt threatened.

        But this was more than 10 years back, now as Sandhya says, maybe times have changed there as well.

  15. OMG, I’ve been sitting here for a whole minute frozen to the spot just reading this before responding. I can just imagine how frightening this has been for you.

  16. Omg MM, I am still shivering with fear – I cant imagine how terrifying the whole situation must have been!! Did the Brat and the Bean wake up in the middle of it 😦
    Can you make a complaint to the local police station? And I think you are a journalist na, can you not go to the media? So horrifying!

      • Sonia, we live in india ,this would have happened anywhere in india, my view is OA should have known better (yes sad but true) and now atleast MM is acting sensibly (name or no name)..sometimes its just not worth fighting for justice..

            • I disagree. You’re right to some extent – its not something I would urge, encourage or egg the OA on to do. But its something that I am very proud of him for. And his kids will grow up with a good example. Why bother teaching your kids about right and wrong and bravery if you don’t live that way?

              There’s never a perfect time to stand up against corruption. You have to raise your voice when you are there and when it is happening. No need to get into a fight, but definitely tell them to get a move on.

              Would it be safer if he were a lone man? We’d never know what happened to him and would still be sitting home waiting for him to come back in a body bag. Should he wait until wife and family and kids are at home and he is out only with male friends? That is almost never. And you can’t go home, drop family and come back to fight – the moment is over. Also, these guys count on the fact that you are with women/ children/old people and will be scared. That is why they push you around. It’s not that we were not scared or that the OA was not worried. He was. That is why he hesitated instead of getting into a fight. That is what the old saying is, right? That heroes are not extraordinary people. They are just ordinary people who one day stop in the midst of their regular lives and have the courage to do something right, something correct. They didnt set out to be brave or show off.

              And here’s the best part of it. Its not like the OA stopped and took out a hockey stick and started fighting or something rash like that. But if the other cars in the jam had also had the decency to get out and join the OA we’d have had numbers on our side.

              It’s because of this attitude of ours that corruption continues. Because the average person is a coward and mostly self-absorbed. The whole – “its not happening to me and its not my problem so why should i interfere” attitude is what I object to.

              I’m very sad to hear such responses because I lose hope of anyone in this country fighting corruption. In which case we deserve what we get. i know you’re being practical, but its just sad that being practical in this country means backing down and accepting corruption, in the bargain allowing it to flourish.

  17. Glad you’re safe. I can relate. (((((HUGS)))))))

    It’s not Haryana only, MM. Brief scary similar story. SH driving home 8.30pm (his parents’ car after dropping them to the station), harrassed by 2 goondas on a bike, whom he yelled at. 4 bikes with 8 goondas appeared, chased him, banged and smashed the windshield. At this point SH calls ME, alone at home with 2 kids fast asleep. what am I supposed to do? I called is brother. The the cops come, one goonda (related to a top cop) shows his hand bleeding where the windshield cut it and says SH tried to MURDER. Cops ready to arrest SH who luckily had not got out of the car. Turns out the cops AND goondas thought he was a ‘Northie’, so let’s harrass him. His brother arrived and they started talking in pure Bangalore Kannada. The police backed off. But nothing was done to the goondas.

    It’s not worth it to take on these creeps. But then who will? Rather a dilemma.

    • Actually we often get harassed because people think the OA is a foreigner. Nothing to do with the way he looks… just something about his demeanour apparently. i have no idea what it is though. i’ve never felt that way but i’ve had loads of the househelp, shopkeepers and all ask me. so you know, they think its easier to push him around -until he snaps.

      • Yeah, it’s the demeanour, you’re right. SH looks as ‘pucca’ Kannadiga as it is possible to be, yet, he faces a lot of harrassment in Hindi here in Blr, which stops the moment he opens his mouth. I look pretty non-Southie or non-Indian myself (whatever the hell that is), and get the brunt of road and street harrassment, but I’ve perfected the art of abuse in pretty decebt Kannada 👿 . Wish just language worked, tho’ to get attackers to back off. It’s not just ‘origin’ or looks, there have been occasions where it’s the autowallahs fault, but we get yelled at by the cop because we’re in a big car. It’s the money, ‘affluence’, privilege, difference, they will attack anything. So what are we supposed to do to stay safe? Cower and try to blend in?

        • yes – you’re right. the OA looks very ‘northie’ too and had autowaalas and all sorts harass us in Madras because of that. I dont know any place that is safe anymore. And i am also tired of the ‘privilege’ being attacked. we’re all middle class families trying to get an education and get along. its unfair to be attacked for something that is not our fault and not illegal

          • It is unfair. But imagine the lot of those truck drivers and other less privileged people…they’re at the receiving end much more, no? It’s almost daily life for them, and for us, it’s so bloody scary if it even happens once in a while 😦

            But I agree, we’re all working just as hard as the next guy and we’re not making our money like that cop is…so we’re supposed to look the other way and take their abuse when they choose to take out their frustrations on us?

            • exactly. everyone is working hard. the truck driver. and even the cop who gets paid a pittance for working on a freezing winter night. but why take it out on me?

  18. WTF??? Its so bloody scary…What are we exposing our kids to? This is a live example for them to be very very afraid of uniformed people who are suppossed to protect us…
    Take care dear…

  19. Gosh – sounds horrifying.

    My kids bawled the night an (I think) honest cop stopped me for mistakenly driving into a tiny no-entry lane. I can imagine how scared the kids might have been.

    Sorry you all had to go through this.

  20. Glad you are safe and glad the OA is made of sterner stuff! Hope something like this never happens again 😦

  21. when i started reading the blog i thought that it is just another humour story from haryana, never imagined this. we cannot really do anything against all this, and it angers me more. i know it is not only in gurgaon that situations are this bad, even noida or for that matter delhi is not safe.

  22. OMG – this is insane! I am glad that you are all safe and doing fine. Poor babies must have been so scared… Stay safe babe.

  23. Oh my god! This is so scary.

    Yesterday, my dad, in a fit of frustration, told me “I don’t understand why you want to live in this country”. And each day, as I hear a new story about bribery, corruption, violence, aggression and unfairness, I wonder too.

  24. Kudos to the OA for standing up to the cop in the first place. But I do hope he never has to deal with this cop ever again. And why just Gurgaon – this happens everywhere I think . People just learn to look the other way or put up with boorish behaviour like the cop you met. I think you should arrange for a mock media team to show up at the spot for an “interview” anyway ! but doubt that would matter to the cop as they can see blazing examples like Kalmadi and A Raja almost getting away.

  25. Horrifying… and makes us feel so helpless.
    If we take them on, we have our family’s safety at stake. And worry about what are we getting into.
    Thank God u guys are safe. Hope u get back to your normal selves soon.

  26. Ummm, this is quite common in Haryana. It is normally worse, that is the sick part of it. But I have seen such things in Delhi and other parts of north India too. Don’t worry, no one will harass you – and they would not have taken down registration numbers either. Do keep the number of someone high up in the administration on speed dial. It works in such cases. Please feel free to delete this comment

      • that’s why you should move here. No, im not saying such things don’t happen here or anything, but you can keep my dad’s no. on speed dial(the things i’m willing to do to meet the brat and bean *cough cough*)

        ok, don’t hate me now. I just didn’t know what to say, except that I’m glad you are all safe.

  27. OA and your dad are rockstars…. having said that…my heart was racing as i read this, cant imagine the ordeal for you guys in the car….glad that it ended safely for you guys

  28. How disgusting! A friend’s brother lost his life in a roadside argument near Chandigarh when the drunken driver jabbed a big screwdriver into his thigh. By the time they got him to hospital, he had lost too much blood.

    Please do be careful when you drive on these kind of roads. How horrifying – the people who’re supposed to protect you turning on you!

  29. delhi’s no friggin’ better. my car’s been chased so many times in delhi. and i have been eve teased wayyyy more times in delhi than any other city, even noida and gurgaon.

    re: gurgaon, my sincere request to you is to move to safer sides. there are. atleast as safe as delhi gets – not comparing to southern india havens. sohna road, if that’s where u are, can never be safe. bloody trucks ply that road all the bloody time. move to the more inhabited and older areas. think phase IV for example. u can roam the nearby roads at midnight in shorts. and thankfully the roads leading up to them have row houses and cars. no trucks. and there are many trees. Please, Please move.

  30. It’s not just Haryana or the North..it’s an Indian thing. What goes up must come down. Don’t know if this holds good with corruption in India..it’s on the rise and all of us take confort in looking the other way and walking away.

    I am glad that the OA stood up..thank god you guys got away safe.
    Media too is very selective in what they bring out 😦

  31. I am absolutely horrified!
    At the blatant misuse of even little power and so many many other things….

    This is when I dont like my own country! and i hate that feeling. How have we created this mess for ourselves?

    • you’re so right. i recall my grandma and her friend saying that the brits kept more law and order
      we took over our country and have made a mess of it. i feel ashamed everytime i realise that some of what they said was so right

  32. Gosh MM! Scary situation to be in…especially with your kids and what not. What do you do in a country where folks who are supposed to protect you are the ones making your life miserable. If only these cops were paid a handsome salary, it would reduce a lot of these bribery incidents. Nyways, glad you are all safe. But do see if you can report this to the media atleast – even without names would be fine. People have a right to know.

    • well yes, a lot of the cops are just underpaid. no justifying corruption, but how will we get people to value their jobs if we undervalue them. and the thing is only a thug or a lout finds it easy to survive with the kind of political clout there is in the police force today

  33. Harassment and worse are pan-Indian, everyday things. I still can’t get over the 16-yr-old who was killed in Barasat, near so-called ‘safe-and-civilised’ Calcutta for trying to protect his older sister from a gang of drunken louts. The sister ran for help to the nearest cops, they said it wasn’t any of their business. And today a top official is all over the papers, saying the girl in question is a divorcee and returned home late every night.

    • oh God. see, this is the kind of thinking you cant fight. So what if she is a divorcee? So what if she comes home at 3 am? whose business is that anyway? what a sorry mess we’ve made for ourselves.

  34. Though OA acted brave but I can imagine your trauma.
    It is so normal, not only in Haryana but all over India, but it is not right, I don’t know whether media will like to spot light on such issues (which are general) but India with all its corruption looks very spotty and unclean, cannot we do something against it?
    I teach my daughter to be honest and then I fear about being honest in front of so many people.

  35. I am glad you are all safe. Kudos to OA to keep his calm in such a situation.My husband just panicked when he read this post.Hugs to you and the family.

  36. Glad that you are safe! Hope the kids don’t remember this incident for long and get over it.

    The presence of corruption and degradation of morals is very apparent in the attitude of the cops in your case and other incidents narrated here. How can we raise good/sincere kids who will survive in the big bad world with such hooligans? Its tough to be a parent in these days!

  37. that heavy feeling from chest to the pit of your stomach. that terrible fear, and helpless anger. know it so well. cos something recent in my life made me feel that way. take care… and i know you’ve thought about it, but you can’t file a case?

    • what happened, babe? and no… i know filing a case is pointless. because there is nothing concrete the cop did that i can hold against him. he can stay he stopped us to check the licence. which is well within the purview of his job. but we know he stopped us to harass us because the OA saw him taking bribes.

  38. A few months back I would not have been empathise to the degree I do today. This Jan I took a longish break and covered a few cities in India and I spent some time in Gurgaon with the family of a former colleague. No offence but I found your city dusty,wildn lawless and highly inconvenient place for a home. I somehow could not get over a public transport system where you have three wheelers where people are loaded up like cattle. I was horrified when my excolleague told me that he had to travel on the back seats of one of these motorised carts till he got his sedan. Gated communities are an oasis with their department stores and once outside the only shops you see are building material stored and booze shops. Even the ‘malls’ are no better – crowded and badly planned. He seemed to like it but after a while I got fustrated with the power back-up starting up and going off. I hope the Brat and Bean’s school is really worth it. I hope you reported this incident, though where I don’t know.

    • none taken. i dont live here by choice. i live here out of necessity. north india is home to me and the only place in the south I’d love to live in would be Hyd but we have few career options there 😦

      that said, Gurgaon is a city in its own right, but those who live here, live here because its a suburb to Delhi. just as those who live in the suburbs of New York for the convenience of it and for the proximity to the NY. I love Delhi and I cant imagine moving far from it.

      as for the power situation, i think everyone has to remember this is just another small town that has got rushed into growing up overnight. its not a delhi, bombay or madras. its going to take some time for infrastructure to come in. its only 20 years old as opposed to other cities that have existed for centuries.

  39. I don’t think we can issue blanket statements like “north is more violent”, “delhi is the worst” etc. Madras isn’t a peach, either. A cop harassed my brother one night for coming back home late with his friends. He followed my brother home, then created a racket slamming the gates etc till my aunt walked out to find out what the hell was happening. Cop was all like “yr son is coming home so late and u have no worries? then dont come crying if something goes wrong. what kind of people are u?” etc.
    Like I said before, am so so glad you guys are all okay. Tell OA bravery is for politician’s kids and thugs. Like one of your commenter said, we shld have our own friendly thugs else we are screwed big time.

  40. MM, I’m so glad everything turned out okay for you and the family!

    My Dad, like the OA, can’t help butting in when he sees cops behaving this way or extorting money from pavement sellers/dwellers. But he has his ways of one-upping them. Usually he’ll just walk towards them with RAGE in his eyes and start questioning them in his deep baritone about what the hell is going on, pretending to be one of them (but much senior). He has their lingo down pat and does it with SUCH authority that those folks actually get scared and once I was witness to a guy begging and pleading with him to not report him for taking bribes. There have been a couple of times when they didn’t buy it at first but he’d grab them at the collar and say, “Kyon bhai, vardi pehen ke aaoonga tab pehchanoge?” and at the same time start asking the puny scaredy-looking ones to get him water/chair, start cleaning his car, fetch soda for the kids etc. (All part of the act.)

    Or he’d just say to the ones who look like they’re in command, “Kal subah 7:00 baje tum dono thaane mein nahin mile to mujhse bura koi nahin hoga.”

    He somehow always knows the names of higher-ups in the chain too. So he’d pull out his phone and – this is key – ask ONE OF THEM “Chal ko phone laga ke meri baat kara.” That usually does the trick (wrt convincing them of his authority). There was only once that a guy asked ki kya kahoon, kisne baat karni hai so he said “Usse keh uske baap ka phone hai.” The call didn’t actually happen, in fact the guy didn’t even flip the phone open to find out if this guy was actually in his contacts but they were all scared enough to pack up and go away.

    And if the situation demanded, he was strong enough and fearless enough to land one of these guys a tight slap and drag one of these adult men as they were CRYING, to HIS ‘thaana’. And then they’d start going sorry saab, saab maaf kar do saab…saab aage se rishwat nahin lenge saab..

    I don’t know if they still do but they used to have a special-looking wallet. No badge or anything, just delhi police or something of the sort on the outside. Once a guy offered my Dad part of his bribes in exchange for keeping quiet, so Dad said, “Chupchaap apna wallet nikaal ke mere haath mein de.” He obeyed, Dad pulled out whatever was inside and gave it back to him and kept the wallet. And from then on he didn’t even have to rely on theatrics…he’d just casually pull out his wallet.

    I know this only stopped them for a few hours but I can sort of understand what my Dad meant when he said as long as a few folks got away without having to pay bribes or get harassed he’s okay with what he did.

    I can’t believe this hasn’t landed him into trouble even once, and when I moved to the US I got so scared that something would happen I made him swear he’d never do it. Fortunately his appearance has changed a lot over the years and we’ve moved around a lot too so nobody would recognize him.

    I now realize that we were kids when this happened and I would never dream of doing something like this before my own potential kids, but never once were we scared. We never even wondered what would happen. He was always the one in charge of the situation. Of course it drove my Mom crazy that he had to go and interfere whenever he saw them harassing anyone and we were ALWAYS late to everywhere.

    I know it sounds like I’m making it all up but trust me I’m not. I guess they’re all weaklings with a *little* bit of power so they can’t help going on a power trip. And all it takes to scare them is someone who’s actually fearless.

    • see the truth is that the OA isn’t one to get into altercations. he minds his own business. but i see him getting more involved ever since we had kids. its like he wants to clean up the mess for them.

        • LOL! well i changed into an opinionated blogger only after the kids. before that i was not concerned about anything, so caught up in myself was i. now i know this is the world i am leaving behind for them, so we have to clean it up

  41. Oh My god! I’m so living in my dreamworld..i thought such things happened only in the movies.

    Glad the mad family is safe. A Warm hug for you all !

  42. I am so glad all of you are fine. This is so scary and terrifying….. Hope the kids are fine now…….
    And I hope and pray, you don’t face anything like this ever again!

  43. Goodness MM!!! I was frozen with fear just reading about it. Totally did not suspect anything like this coming in the post. How could you even stand it – those few moments – I might have had a heart attack! Goondas banging on the door of the car at night!
    I am amazed by the OA’s courage. Incredible. Is he usually the kind to question these things? Man, the whole thing seemed like it is from the movies. Scary part is that it is for real. Can’t imagine how there can be civil society if the police did this so casually.

  44. SHIT – I’m glad your family and you are safe. It sucks that you have to go through this and having your children a(nd parents) with you at that time makes this infinitely worse. I hope the children are ok.

    I’ve seen these in movies and didn’t really believe it would happen in real life and clearly, I’m incorrect.

    My brother who moved back to India a few years back is reconsidering his choice simply due to the corruption he has to engage in on a daily basis, just to do regular normal things. He tells me not to even consider coming back, while I continue to sway in my decision, primarily becuase my family and friends are back “home”. Really – if you hate it so much, is it worth it to stay in Gurgaon? Is it worth it if it’s causing stress and having an impact on your lifestyle?

    • I don’t really know where else to go. I know I want to live in the north. And for careers like the OA and mine, there is little other choice. Plus the kids school here. Its tough to get Delhi schools.

      • Have you considered outside India? From what I’ve read, I decipher that it’s certainly not the first choice, but it can’t be something to rule out – or would it? And why not Delhi itself? If you love it so much, I know it’s not much better, but it’s not much worse and you love it there – so that will take you one step closer – won’t it?

        • well me moved out of Delhi for the kids’ school. and now we cant move back because we love the school. in about 3-4 years we can move back and let them take a long bus ride in. for now they are just too little 😦

  45. And this is one of the reasons why I live in Chennai. I know a lot of people say its boring but at least if I’m coming home late at night, I’m not wondering if I’ll make it back alive.
    Maybe you’ll think about coming back here?

  46. I cant stop saying OMG! But what prompted the OA to even talk to the police guy? Of course he was brave and all that but… I cant believe he did that. Now he’s my personal hero!!!
    Still I’m shit scared. I’ve been hearing about the goondas in bikes on outer roads of Bangalore all the time. And we have to travel to our work by those roads. Many do. The robbery strategy is so well known, I wonder why the police hasnt done anything about it. And this gives me the answer I didnt want to hear.
    Is this what we call, going to dogs?? But dogs are actually better.

  47. That’s serious! It’s so good to hear that you all got out of it unscathed, physically and you’re safe!
    Hug your family an extra tight hug for me 🙂

  48. Hey MM,
    I was thinking about this last night before going to bed. Then i was suddenly thniking what was going on in the Brat’s and the Bean’s mind when the cops were hammering your SUV’s windows. Did they wake up? Were they terrified? I want to know how are they feeling.

    • arre! LOL! but i really don’t know too many people 🙂 nothing compared to the hoards of Delhi friends at any rate. And the OA’s. We’ve both been here since we were 17 and its close to home.

  49. oh my god! The poor kids! It’s scary enough for adults, and just reading the post is giving me chills. Can’t imagine how they would have felt!
    Are they ok?

  50. Terrible experience. Many of us have it. But I think we are all a bit complicit in allowing this to go one if we dont at least try and do something about it. At least your dad tried. I would have lodged a complaint at the police station and then seen what came out of it. I have done it before when a traffic cop tried to get a bribe out of me. Its always a fight, but if all of us dont act, it will never improve.

    • This is such a depressing story. The Binayak Sen situation has had me depressed for days. Depressed and frustrated. A state of mind plenty of other like minded Indians are in these days.

  51. Stumbled to your blog as I got few of your readers visiting me. As I read through this post, I felt so very angry and frustrated at the state of affairs in the city that we live in. We stay on the ‘wrong’ side of the highway as well (years ago when we bought our home, we felt that this side of the highway was more ‘residential’! Ha!). Each day, as I soon as I step out of my home, I fume at the Maruti trucks, the ineffectual (if any) cops, the state of roads and the general goonda attitude. I have spent the larger part of my life in Delhi and have used public transport, but have never felt as unsafe as I feel on Gurgaon roads, even though within the confines of a car. I alternate between thinking I/we need to do ‘something’ about the situation, and the desperate resignation -‘let’s just move the hell out of this city’. 😐

    Really glad that you guys came out of the situation and are safe. Do take care.

  52. MM , i agree on paper with what you are saying but following it i dont think so , plus if you r so passionate then y not take it the whole way , i am sure OA remembers the face..all i am trying to say either be ready to go the whole distance ( which in my view is only possible if you have tata, birla in your name in this country) else its better to chicken out , rather than regret later .. Thank God nothing happened else i am not sure if you would still have the same view in total as you have now..

    • Everyone draws their own line, IMVI. In our case we were caught in a traffic jam, the OA went to check and see if it was an accident and if anyone needed help. He found something illegal and broke it up – I think that was enough of a brave/good deed for the day. You’re right, this is a dangerous and corrupt country and we don’t have a mai-baap high up in the ministry to save us. We did as much as we could.

      I think the important thing is not to turn your face on corruption out of fear. I’d be feeling a lot safer if he’d turned away and now I worry when he drives back alone at night. But I am also damn proud of the man who didn’t turn tail saying, hey lets just sit in the jam and wait till the cop finishes negotiating. We cleared it up, we moved on. We faced some trouble, we got through it. end of matter.

      There is no report to make really because we don’t have the cop’s name, we dont have the number of the truck he had caught and we don’t really have any proof either. What would a report with no details make up? This is just a post telling you about a bad experience, not a newspaper report or police FIR where we’d be required to provide those details. It takes a lot more than just passion to follow through na? It was midnight on a foggy Delhi winter night and a dark deserted street with no street lights – he certainly doesn’t remember some random guy’s face. I saw him too when he banged on our window but I don’t remember him either! I think its about how big a deal it was. If it were an accident and someone died and we had to pick the hit and run driver out of a line up to avenge the dead, we might have racked our brains or risked our lives. In this case the truck driver moved on and we saved him some Rs 20!

      You know, a friend casually mentioned that there are abandoned police barriers lying all over the country. It just takes a hired uniform for a thug to loot you or harass you. How many of us ask a cop for ID proof when he stops us? We are so terrified that we hand over whatever they ask for and move on. As I mentioned, some thugs came out of the shadows – maybe the guy wasn’t a cop after all. Who knows?

      Yes, as you mentioned, I am glad nothing more happened or maybe I would have had a different view. As it stands, I don’t see why you feel that one must push it further. It happened, we did what we could at the moment, we moved on. If we weren’t discussing it on the blog right now, I might not recall it later!

  53. Don’t blame the cops – their life is so miserable and hellish you would (probably) do worse if you were in their place.

    Our police system is based on the Mughal system meant to subjugate the general population, and further fine-tuned to do this by the British.

    Everyone knows that the only solution is to reform the entire police system. Every few years the proposals come up, and nothing happens because the current structure is very useful to our Netas.

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