Heron’s Greed

The morning walk at the scenic Kaikondahalli Lake was relaxing, mind so refreshed on seeing the wonderful birds taking flight around the manmade island in the centre. The cackle of the red beaked water fowls added to the serene settings, not noisy but genteel. The nearby Heron was best on its acting skills, it just stood so still, even a rock statue would get a big complex seeing the bird unmoving! The other birds especially the cormorant was playing diving games on and off nearby. The water beetles were gliding on the glassy water surface while the red wattle lapwings were screeching merrily near the Heron. The raucous racket didn’t affect the statue bird one bit, in its steadfast steady gaze. No distractions nor diversions what so ever. What an actor of a bird!! I was the curious by stander watching the fun, bit funny yet unsure and wondering if the bird will ever make the slightest motion. Eons passed. Out of the blue actually grey water, a big cormorant dashed out with a silver fish strapped in, struggling to get out of the clutches of the strong beak. The Heron could not resist seeing the glistening treat to be; and it moved to see the catch and the commotion!! Aha, the food can be a big bait? No wonder the smartest fishes fall prey to the hook.

The lake was opposite my Srinivasa apartments, quickly crossed over and got ready for the big client meeting at 10am. Navigating the smooth (in dreams) Bangalore traffic is a bigger challenge than presenting the concepts to the client. I got into the car, took a U turn and was passing the lake again on the left. Taking a quick glance at the island, I stole those few extra seconds on the side glance thinking about the Heron actor and the hapless fish. In those stunning seconds of distraction, I scraped the white taxi which zipped up in front!! Typical bumper to bumper traffic. Felt the gentle nudge of the scrape on my bonnet, my mistake entirely. Saw the one inch blue mark of my car paint on his white bumper. Persian blue. The young taxi driver rolled down his glass; spat out and sent a rousing invective at me. He was most respectable in the negative without even judging my mature middle aged look. So much for a suave look and feel. Hmm. All crushed in a jiffy. My response was immediate, with folded hands, I nodded and signalled to say- so sorry. Offered to stop on the side to sort out matters. He went further red and raised a respectable middle finger further……OMG, do I need this before the big meeting. Yes, indeed have to go through the motions, no escape…benefits of a big bad city life. Alas.

We pulled over, he greeted me with a guttural North Karnataka Cush word- Goobe, told him that the police station is just 500 metres and to be respectful. The word Police seemed to be the healer to his arrogance and rogue outlook. He showed me the scratch and demanded that we go to the mechanic to ascertain the damage; expenses to be coughed by me- the great car basher cum marauder. In my most polite way, I offered him Rs 500 for the scratchy touch up. He would not agree. I raised to rs 1000 after few more minutes, it was like a feeling when you want to run to the loo badly, any short cut would help, albeit pay more cash in this situation. It was not going well at all. He repeated the same lingo with a wicked twist in the lip- lets go to the mechanic. I raised the sum to Rs 1000. Bargaining was getting to be my second nature. A bad one at that, wish the MBAs of the world enlighten me. I just wanted to scoot from there, loosing time for the appointment. Desperation aka looking for a loo with a full bladder.

The traffic constable came across seeing the commotion, sweetly enquiring about the drama unfolding. He inspected the scratch works, and gave his verdict- sir “ Isstu jaasti kudbeda” just pay rs 500 and its done. Oh, I over did it then was my immediate reaction. I looked at the driver who was drooling with rage and faulty evil emotion. He would not budge. He gave a look at the constable who melted into an ice lolly. Desperation was spreading sideways like un-vented exhaust fume, I raised the sum to rs 2000. Take it man and let go was my humble meek prayer. The stunned cop was aghast. He told, Sir that’s a ridiculous sum for a simple scratch! The greedy driver said no to that too!! He still wanted to visit the elusive car painter. I was in a coma. Mind fogged, unable to think what my clients from Intel were going to respond to my perfect sense of timing. Giving the famous traffic as an excuse was my final straw. Every one blames the Bangalore traffic, the most punched and hated bag in the state.

A white silvery motor cycle stopped next to my side, I thought I saw the silvery fish again in the cormorant’s mouth. No it was the white traffic helmet of the inspector. He gave a kindly typical Bangalorean smile and enquired the action going on the busy road slowing the traffic considerably. I blurted my mistake and narrated the string of events that unfolded, fully accepting my responsibility. With authority and wisdom of many years of road knowledge, he examines the half inch scratch on the bumper. I repeated. Sir, am ready to give him rs 2000, but let me go now, am really late, some ten people are waiting for me. Inwardly I didn’t want to grease another few thousand quid to this man was my immediate thought. Fingers and toes crossed.

Then the grand decision came- Sir, just go. Not a single paisa to that rascala. I couldn’t believe what I heard! It was the silver fish flashing in my mind again and the Heron in me moved and quivered. Albeit delightfully.

The look of hatred and disgust on the drivers face could have easily fetched an Oscar if he were nominated, but he withheld his frustration and pleaded with the police officer. I got in and started to drive, saw the chap closely following me. I winced, oh another episode down the road! To my double delight, the inspector was right behind monitoring for another 3 kms. The driver turned into a modern day Medussa, spat some more vicious venom and turned right to his destination where ever that would be. I moved on straight and saluted the officer. He acknowledged gracefully with a gentle flourish – “have nice day gesture”.

Thank you Bangalore police
Venu Rao
25th May 18.

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