It had been two weeks, and I had been getting these yellow pieces of paper almost every alternative day. Challans, as the Bangalore Traffic Enforcement Police, non-challantly call it. No parking in and around the Richmond Circle area. On week days. During afternoons. I dont live near Richmond Circle nor work near it, and I have defenitely been at work those two weeks. The first two or three, I let go. Police men are human beings too. And to err is acceptable once-in-a-while in our species. I even paid up these challans online. Because, it is so easy, and I thought I would earn a few karma brownie points. But mostly because, I usually do not like to be caught-up in these kind of cases. Just get it over, I say. That is what runs in my Tam-Brahm blood.
But 8 challans in 2 weeks was a bit too much.
I had heard of the Bangalore Traffic Police have their own face book page. I had heard they were pretty responsive too. I went and checked. Yep. Sure enough, there were folks who had complained on FB, and the police responding that they have fixed the issue. Photos. Mobile numbers of Inspectors. The works.
I decided to give it a shot as well. And posted my sad story of these mysterious challans in places where I had never been to.
Two days later, two plain clothes policemen knock on my door at home. I open the door, and they say, “We are from the Bangalore Traffic Police. Can we come in?”. Super filmy style. So I called them in (not that I had any other option). They had copies of my FB post. And wanted photocopies of my original documents. They also wanted to take photographs of my car. So we went to the parking lot, and it was done. Of course, by now, I had become a bit more emboldened and self-composed. I approached these two fine gentlemen and said, “Please dont mistake me, but can you guys please show me your ID. With all the sh** happening in this world, my mind is asking for confirmation that you guys are really from the Police”.
Thankfully, the two guys laughed it off, and showed me their IDs, which looked old and tattered, but genuine enough.
Two days later, one of these guys call me, and ask, if I could come on over to Ashok Nagara Police Station. “They had something to show me”, they said. Again, proper filmy style. I hurried out there, and sure enough, they had “something to show me”. The police guy said, “Go and take a look at the car in the shade there.” There was an oldish looking Merc with.the.same.exact.registration.number.as.mine. !!!
Fast forward a week. The police had written their memos and reports to the RTO. And the RTO had responded vide their memo/statement dated so-and-so. And I got notified that the RTO had indeed accepted that it was their fault. The older number (the merc) had been allotted when there was no computerization. And due to some error, it got re-allotted to me last year.
Fast forward a week. I went down to the Koramangala RTO. And everyone instantly recognizes me. “Ohhh, you are the duplicate number case.”
Yes. that was my name. Duplicate number case.
Since it had been accepted that it was the RTO’s mistake, a new number was swiftly allocated to me. I got my RC card and everything done within 2 days.
So, I guess, social networking works, after all. It all started out with a Facebook post.