“To maintain order, enforce the law, and prevent and detect crime” – that is the dictionary definition of Policing. One assumes that there would be more stress on prevention than detection which would be necessary only when prevention fails. At least one wing of the police department seems to be in disagreement – the traffic police. Anyone who has been driving in Bangalore is familiar with the following scenario:
You need to quickly pick up some medicine or bread or whatever,look for a parking lot and finding none, park it under a tree near the shop and when you return after 3 minutes you find the policeman asking for your licence - the crime? You parked in a no parking zone. “But there is no sign?” you mutter in a puzzled tone and he points to it. You needed him to point it out because it is strategically placed close to a tree, visible only from certain angles. This is something you can try in any new route that you take. Try spotting a traffic sign while managing to negotiate the car through the traffic in any commercial area and nine out of ten times you will fail. The most prominently displayed boards will only give you information on the number of accidents and deaths in Bangalore over the past 3 years or the details of the penalty for every traffic violation.
And if the policeman had to police the no parking zone why is it that he does not make himself visible preventing you from parking there like the security guards in apartments? How come he hides behind the tree, waits for you to park and then pounces on you with a wicked “got you!” leer?
The answer is not hard to find. He will tell you to pay up a fine of 100 and then return you Rs.50 if you do not demand a receipt!! So why prevent a lucrative source of income? And even if you demand a receipt, it goes under his record of “number of crimes detected”. So it is a win-win for him right?
This neighbour's house is being painted and these days she seems very busy and active; normally there is a lost look about her when we meet during the evening strolls. Yesterday she was glowing as she told me that her son from the U.S. was coming on a holiday after 5 years - she was bursting with the news and it seemed like she wanted to announce it to the whole world. Humouring her I said, "Ah, now i see what's with the painting and all" and she told me how she had been waiting for this all these years and how she has not had the enthusiasm to clean the house or decorate it or cook special things ever since he left. Every day of her life in the past 5 years has been spent only waiting for the day he will come back.I am happy for her but I am more worried about her return to misery after he leaves. For a while she would show us the photographs and the gifts he brought her , the home videos and all that and then slowly she will sink back into a void, steeped in her memories oblivious of the present, suspending the whole process of "living" until another visit from him.

This is the case with most people who shrink their lives into roles - defining them in relation to another person in their lives - a parent or a spouse or a child. The minute the other goes out of the scene, you cease to exist for yourself. It is like he / she rolled up your life and walked away with it.

I was reminded of Mrs.Ramaswamy, one of the customers of the bank branch I was managing. She was 65, drove an old fiat and very well read. I used to wait for her visits to the bank and our interesting chats. Our pet peeve was the horrible Bangalore traffic (and this was still 1988!!) She was 35 years my senior but we could talk about everything as if we were contemporaries. Her husband had died some years ago and her children were married and lived in different cities. She chose to live alone in the charming villa in Indiranagar. First time she called me over for tea, frankly I went more out of sympathy for the widowed old lady living alone seeking company on a quiet afternoon. But what greeted me was an elegantly furnished house with a cheerful garden- no signs of emptiness or depression. Even her sons' rooms were kept in order as if they lived in the house. A cook and a young maid lived in the house and the meals were simple and tasty and varied whether she had visitors or not. She explained it during one of our conversations:"You cannot stop living because people have gone away to have their lives or your partner's time has come. You have to go on living until your time comes." She is thrilled when her children and grand children visit her but does not go into depression when they leave. She has her own life - a full and meaningful one that is not dependent on anyone else, even her children.

She is happy to play her roles by them but she wont let them walk away with it. She is firmly in control of it.
Yesterday I was at Forum mall and while waiting for the lift, i was amused to watch a young boy pressing the lift call button impatiently every 5 seconds. Actually it had taken just a minute and a half for the lift to arrive at the floor but he had already pressed it some 15 times.And once we were in the lift he could not keep his hands off the "Door close" button - he wanted the lift to descend straight to the basement without stopping in any floor. He wanted to save those three minutes - too long a time for him.
The speed that we have got used to as a result of all these machines has completely spoilt us - people are always complaining of poor response if it took more than a few seconds between the time they press the send button and the acknowledgement that the message is sent. And we get panicky if a mail does not get a response within the day. Tempers rise at every red light and the instant the light turns green horns start blaring. Now we dont have just 24 hours to do things but 24*60*60 seconds or perhaps subdivisions of it by which we count our time.
So with all the time that we save should we not be having more leisure time to do the things that we want to do? But I find people complaining all the time that they have "no time" for anything. They are sleeping less, playing less,reading less, meeting friends less. So where is all the time going? And why is it all going there?