Rs. 27

Thats all it took – a demand for Rs.27 at the toll booth. Everybody pays. Unless your name is on the billboard leading up to the toll. That is about half a dollar.. not a fortune, especially for those whose arrogance is based on the wealth they flaunt. So this is what it boiled down to – Sir Arrogance could not cough up the equivalent of  (less than) half a litre of diesel.

I have no idea what really happened at the toll booth – but a life was lost, a young life. For no reason other than somebody did not know when a line is crossed, it becomes wrong, embodies evil.

We see these lines crossed all the time, and say nothing. Traffic on the wrong side of the road? Shrug. Red light being jumped? Sigh. Small child begging? Look away. Road being dug up and not tidied at the end of a work day? Workers never clearing their own mess? Ignore. People spitting, spreading infectious diseases?. Not my problem. Men masturbating in public, pissing everywhere?  Blind eye. Rubbish thrown out of expensive cars? Whistle on.

Each of these, and many others, is a line that is crossed. Where I am denied the right to a dignified clean city. I am denied the right to walk in healthy, safe places. You, who do this, are stealing this right from me. And dignity from yourself.

Do the aggressors not realise that the first loss of dignity is theirs? They suffer more than others? No, you did not get away with it, you moron. You just proved that you are dumb enough not to be able to intelligently calculate consequences to yourselves and others.  How is it that somebody who can argue and harangue so well does not understand that holding back when driving gives other cars room to get out of your way?

It is not as if these people are totally dumb, for animal cunning is amply displayed. Human intelligence? Human intelligence is about making cognitive choices, not instinctive ones.  Being human is about caring, doing good and making the world a better place. Not necessarily crusading. It is easy, like saying please, thank you and sorry. About sharing with permission, about respect for others. That is it.

So, when the toll both says, Rs 27, you assess – am I cheaper than that? And pay up with dignity. And the next time you want to do something truly selfish – just pause for a second and think – can this damage anybody?  And decide how low you want to stoop or high you want to rise. Choose well. It is your right as a human being.

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3 thoughts on “Rs. 27”

  1. Hi

    I’m not going to defend these culprits in any way here instead what I intend to do is to give a brief explanation about the kind of people who might have committed this heinous crime.

    I’m a resident of Gurgaon since 1990 so this gives me a head-start in such matters. The residents of villages in & around Gurgaon were typical villagers except that they were being hounded by builders to sell their land at handsome rates. Most of them cashed out because the present crop (children of the 90’s) didn’t want to continue with this occupation.

    Now, when the “outsiders” started settling down on those lands, the interaction with the previous owners became inevitable. There were skirmishes because the villagers wouldn’t be allowed in an upscale shop. These original inhabitants had bought Prados & Pajeros by now but their leanings Remained the same. They would then indulge into excessive alcohol abuse & spend their easy greenbacks on prostitutes.

    Everything was modernizing in front of them by they were still feeling left out. It began early for the young lot by thrashing classmates in the English medium schools they had started attending & then progressed to beating around gaurds or eve-teasing random girls in & around the malls. One thing they didn’t like was to be reminded who they were or in other words to be talked down in any manner.

    The natural progression was to carry a fire-arm now to scare of the “occupants of their lands” These new residents had by now understood to stay away from these fellas riding & boozing in their bad-ass cars.

    Cut to a few days back. A new toll-booth attendant comes to work as usual. Trying to do his duty in the best manner, he asks a group of such fellas for Rs.27, the usual amount of toll for everyone crossing. And a petty one at that. The attendant is oblivious to the facts explained in the earlier paragraphs & probably talks down to the occupant of the big SUV. the one thing they didn’t like. The confrontation probably occurred because the occupants insisted on passing by without paying toll as they were from the surrounding villages (which is a norm) but for that to happen the driver must show his license which according to this pass-through arrangment must clearly state the name of the village. (Happened to me a few times, I wasn’t allowed to pass through, in spite of bein a resident of one of the surrounding villages) Things heated up further because of this verbal duel that followed & resulted in a bullet getting fired & killing the hapless booth attendant. If at all he knew the kind of fellas he was dealing with.

    Think of it a menace of urban India or just a passerby commenting upon a sad news.

  2. I share your concern vis-a-vis the shooting at the toll plaza. From where we are, we probably cannot do much more than condemn the incident and spread awareness about the same. But on the brighter side, as I write this, I have come to know that the perpetrators of the killing have been arrested. I hope they have the caught the right people and I hope they are brought to book and soon.
    I too have come across some of the other ‘incidents’ you have mentioned:
    We see these lines crossed all the time- I throw harsh words at them. Traffic on the wrong side of the road? I don’t just shrug-I hurl choice words at the offenders, and where possible, block them. This particular offence has led to even the narrow streets having road dividers or medians these days! Curbs the offenders and unfortunately other movement too!  Road being dug up and not tidied at the end of a work day and workers never clearing their own mess- I really haven’t been able to do anything. People spitting, spreading infectious diseases? I have spat abuses and some have spat back, some have apologized and promised to avoid repeats. Men masturbating in public, pissing everywhere? Pissing- well a couple of times I have been audacious enough to shove them against the wall from behind. These days I whip out my camera and aim- they shove their thingame back in and hurriedly retreat. But masturbating? Now is that a figment of your imagination, I wonder! That’s something I haven’t come across and I believe no man worth his salt would do that unless he was mentally deranged! Debatable.

    Well that’s not all. Don’t blame the man alone. In these days of ‘equality’ perhaps, the women compete with the men here too! Other than all those traffic related stuff, believe me, I have seen women pissing in public. Generally not the jeans or salwar clad ones, but ones in sarees! And standing too, to boot!! Now if that is not true equality, tell me what is!

    What can we do? We can do lots! If one takes it on oneself to do one’s bit we could drastically reduce these common happenings. A child begging on the street, somebody who crosses the line or the guy pissing against the wall- they are not all gun-toting criminals. They can definitely be stopped with a little initiative from people like you and me. Not always and everywhere, but where ever, whenever possible. You cannot expect the already overburdened cops to take care of all these measly bits for us! Let us try doing our bit. And see the change.

  3. You are making a sensitive appeal to insensitive brutes. Only language these people understand is stringent application of rule of law. For Toll Plaza killer, catch him, confiscate his property to compensate the victim, put him to trial and give him a life imprisonment for 30 years or more. Then only there be some semblance of justice. Irrespective of caste, creed, social status, religious inclination the accused must be caught and penalised.

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