Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Mumbai Mamus

Mumbai policemen are derisively termed "mamus" in bambaiyaa slang. The mamu ( mom's brother ) has often had an unholy connotation in our folklore ... just recall the infamous deeds of Shakuni ( mamu of Duryodhana ) and Kansa ( mamu of Krishna ).

Yesterday I had a brush with a Mumbai Mamu ...

Like Kansa he was waiting in ambush ... well hidden and out of sight ... he stopped my car just after I'd taken a left turn at an intersection claiming I'd taken the turn when the signal was red ( which by the way was not true but how could I prove it ? ). I'd followed a Honda Accord which took the turn just before me but maybe the mamu had a specific preference for Hyundai Santros . Probably the mamu was dissuaded by the chance that the Accord owner might have "connections" at the right places, expose him and screw his happiness if he tried his evil designs on him.

Like Shakuni he tried extracting as much moolah as possible from me ...

"Driving license dikhao", said mamu.
Dutifully I handed it over "Kya ho gaya ?"
"Signal toda hai, ab PUC, Car ownership aur Insurance papers dikhao"
Wondering why he needs to see my insurance papers etc I tell him that I'm not in the habit of lugging around all my paperwork ... also try to reason with him that the signal was green when I took the turn and I was just following the Accord which he should have stopped first.
"Bahut mach-mach karta hai, kal chowki se aake licence le jaana aur 700Rs fine bhar dena. Signal todne ka 200 aur papers ka 500". << mach-mach is the bambaiyaa slang for talking too mach oops much >>
"Theek hai", I said and was about to drive away when the mamu stopped me again.
"Saab, kya kal chowki aaoge, abhi kuch adjustment kar do naa", said mamu with a sudden change in tracks and tone. I'd clearly caught him off-guard.
"Life me No Adjust", I said tongue in cheek remembering the VIP chaddi ad. The humour was lost on the Mamu though. In any case paying a bribe was totally against my personal PVP ( Principles, Values, Policies ).
"Kya saab, 100 Rs fine bharo do, mai receit doonga". So that was the compromise angle.
" 50, receit ke saath", I reasoned that taking a reciept was the best I could do either here on the road or tomorrow at the police chowki. And then hope against hope that I was not abetting the corruption in the system.

The mamu took my 50 bucks, gave me a receipt and returned my driving license. As I drove away I marvelled how the Mumbai mamu was actually a living reincarnation of the distilled worst of our mythological mamus.

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