In the aftermath of Mumbai attacks, the security apparatus everywhere seems to have been beefed up. I witnessed that on my trip back home – at Bangalore airport, at Calcutta airport, and at the railway stations at Howrah, Dhanbad and yes Bandel.
I de-boarded a Howrah-Bandel local train with my sister and her two kids. While getting out of the station, I noticed a metal detector outside. It seemed defunct and people were happily giving it a miss. To top it all, I couldn’t spot any security person in the vicinity. Appalled at this utter apathy to reality, even after 11 major blasts in 2008, I thought of doing something. I took out my camera and took a stance that gave an excellent shot of the scheme of things. ‘This is unacceptable. I would send this pic to the leading Bengali, Hindi and English dailies‘.
However, before I could click something else happened.
‘Ke aapni? Chhobi tulchhen kaino? Paarmishaan niyechhen‘ – ‘Who are you? Why are you clicking pictures? Have you taken permission?’ Asked a seemingly infuriated bystander. The middle age pot-bellied of medium height and with curly hairs meant business.
‘Dada aami to emnei chhobi tulchhi. Ghurte beriyechhi kina. Taai‘. ‘Oh, I’m travelling and just taking pictures’.
‘E bhabe saurkaari saumpottir chhobi tulle teente dhara lege jaabe‘ – ‘Taking pictures of a government property without permission means violating 3 sections’. Now, this was something I had no clue about. No-argument strategy sounded apt under the circumstances. I tried to calm him down by stating usual stuff – I’m a responsible citizen; I’m from Bangalore; I’m not a localite; I didn’t know that this is violation. Blah Blah Blah. But it backfired. The guy became impatient and suddenly caught me by my arm.
‘Cholun Baudo Babur kachhe. Ja baular onake bolun‘. ‘Lets go to my Bada Babu. Whatever you’ve to say, say to him’. Situation was getting out of hand. A couple of steps away was standing Baba Babu, with 2 TTEs and a lady in Khaki (policewoman probably). The guy was in civil dress, but other had a I-respect-you stance towards him. Bada Babu glanced with his enquiring eyes at me. The pot-bellied guy explained the situation Bada Babu and beemed with pride.
‘Kono ID achhe’? ‘Got any ID’? Bada Babu extended his hand towards me. I handed over my PAN Card.
‘Aami amar didi are bhagna bhagni saathe tallygonj theke ekhane maasir baadi esechhi‘. ‘I’ve come here from Tollygunge with my sister and her two kids’. I took out my mobile to call her. And lo, my angel was already in sight.
‘Aare ki korchhen dada. E amar bhai. Traivel Raaitaar. Nijer lekhar jonnoi chhobi tul chhilo. Jete din na‘. ‘What’re you doing sir? This is mu brother. Travel writer. Was taking some shots for his article. Please let him go’. Now a lady with her two kids pleading for her brother to the Bada Babu ended the enquiry. Bada Babu gave me a clean-shit, returned my PAN card and asked me to delete the picture from the camera. There wasn’t any, still I deleted the last picture I clicked – which was of a rickshaw puller in Tollygunge.
Morals of the story:
- Don’t click pictures of government establishments (airport, railway station, vidhan sabha) without prior permission. If you have to, at least ensure no one’s watching. Not everyone is lucky like Suyog, or Cheetos.
- Behind every ‘clean’ man, there’s a lady as well.
- Keep your ID proof with you whenever you’re out of your home. It’ll come handy.
Could you fathom any other MORAL of the story? I would be glad to know.