It had been a hectic week. I had worked 9 to 9 the entire last week to meet a project-delivery in office scheduled for Friday. Things had not gone as planned and we all had to come to work on Saturday.
It was a gloomy Saturday morning. I was in no mood to go anywhere that day. Reluctantly, I got ready and headed for office.
As I was passing through Khadki, I was flagged down by the traffic police at a traffic signal. Realizing that they had spotted a KA03 registration vehicle in MH, I got into the side lane and parked. An officer jogged down to our car and demanded for the car documents. I showed him whatever papers I had including my driving license.
After a thorough check by the inspector, I realized that some papers were not in place. Cursing my bad luck and mentally cursing Kaustubh for having been lazy on not having kept the papers back in place after the car was serviced a week before, I asked the inspector, "What next?”. The officer (and a seeming gentleman) drew out a big book and started scribbling onto what looked like a memo -- he was confiscating my driving license! I was to go to the RTO (Road transport office) with all papers within 7 days; else I would have to appear in court! Cursing my luck yet again, I signed the papers. The officer then put his seal -- "Flying Squad no. 2, Inspector P. Ingle" it said. No wonder he was not talking about how much money I was ready to pay and get away! He asked me which company I worked with, which branch of engineering I had done, why my license was from Bangalore, why we'd not applied for a number plate change etc etc. I tried to put up a sorry face as I answered, but in vain. I was almost in tears when back into the car. All the way to office I was thinking about my miserable luck. Back in office, I was all into work and the incident was soon forgotten.
Today, Wednesday morning, Kaustubh and I had been to the RTO. We soon found our way to the "Prosecution Department". We submitted our papers and were asked to come back an hour later to collect my license. We had lunch and were back in time to see our papers being scrutinized and okayed. After paying a fine of 100Rs, we went on to collect my license. Things were happening faster than we had expected. The lady in charge laid out a number of licenses in front of me and asked me to find mine. Surprisingly, it was not there. Kaustubh, the lady and I searched down the entire rusty old Godrej cupboard but in vain.
We were finally led to "Saheb" (Mr. Kothale) , their boss who was immediately apologetic. Immediately, he made a number of calls to the “Flying Squad” inspectors and drivers asking them to do a thorough check of their vehicles. He must have been long enough in RTO to realize his efforts were futile as he said (with a sincere and resigned look), "sorry...we have lost it...u have 2 choices...apply for a new one in Maharashtra or get a duplicate one". He was nice enough to write out a letter with his seal stating that the RTO had lost my license and that I could still drive a four-wheeler. The lady in-charge took down our number and promised to call if she found my license.
With a heavy heart, we walked out. As Kaustubh had to go elsewhere, he dropped me off at an auto. Someone has said, “All you know about luck for certain is that it is bound to change”. As Kaustubh was heading for the car, he happened to notice another officer from the same “Flying Squad no 2” in the RTO campus. While he was waiting to speak to the officer (PI), a police driver came up to the PI and announced that he had found a license lying around in the boot of their staff car. Kaustubh almost jumped with joy and claimed that it was my license. In a few minutes, he "officially" had my license in his hand... just like that!
Meanwhile in the auto, I had been contemplating on how to apply for a duplicate license. I would have to trouble my parents (as usual) and was already imagining listening to a nice long lecture on how organized I should be. This whole incident had really upset me. Kaustubh’s call to me changed my mood drastically (and probably confused the auto driver too! :-)) as he narrated the incident and told me how apologetic everyone in RTO was!
Now looking back, I’d like to commend everyone who was involved in the "Prosecution Department in Pune RTO" who took it upon themselves to search for my license and not treat it like it was not a big deal. In the 2-3 hours that we were there, we realized that this whole business of "Traffic policing" is so huge -- there are so many "memos" and papers written-on in one single day, there are as many agents wandering about, making their presence felt, in the RTO as there are the "victims" or the "prospective drivers". At any given time, the RTO backyard is filled with lots of confiscated, rusting-by-the-day vehicles making the place look more like a junk-yard! Agents have a way of smooth-talking and "patao-ing" thus getting their work done faster there. Whatever the reason, if your papers are clear, u have nothing to worry!! :-)
Kudos to the “Pune RTO Prosecution Department”!! I decided to blog this experience so that youngsters like us can actually start to trust in government organizations.
Nevertheless, “Better safe than sorry”…get your papers in place before you too have to go through such an ordeal! :-)