Honesty is not completely dead in this city, not yet!
Cricket Match and a blooding nose
The day promised to be a long and hectic one as I woke up at 05:00 on a Saturday morning to get ready for a cricket match at TERI with office colleagues starting at 07:30, the ground is around 50km from our place.
A colleagues broken nose at the fag-end of the game really messed up with all the fun we otherwise had on the ground playing not one but two good games of limited over cricket on that bright sunny day.
Momentary lapse of concentration
It was around 13:00 when I stared my long ride back home from South Delhi after accompanying the colleague with the broken nose till his neighborhood. Realizing that I fuel tank is almost empty, I stopped at the Indian Oil‘s Khyber petrol station near Chirag Delhi. While making the payment through credit card a momentary lapse of focus on my part resulted in wallet slipping out of my hand. The guy would have taken hardly a minute to swipe the card, trying to put the credit card & payment slip back into the wallet, I realized the walled is gone. The repercussions of it quickly struck me when the attendant at the station said that two boys on a bike behind me have left the queue without getting the petrol filled, obviously with my wallet.
Cursing myself, I called by Abha to inform her of my stupidity and let the bike engine roar to reach back home as soon as possible. By the time I reached home, Abha had already blocked one Debit Card from SBI, quickly made calls to ICICI and Standard Chartered get the another Debit and a Credit card blocked. After reducing the chances of further financial damage, the attention was shifted on the recovery from the loss.
The plastic has replaced money to a large extent and most of us do not carry much cash in the wallet anyways. But there was other things in the wallet (my driving licence, the car and bike registration certificate and PAN card) that would require a lot of efforts in getting made once again. And one of the key requirement for getting duplicate copies of those is a valid FIR (First Information Report) with the nearest Police Station.
The Police Affair
I do not know what is the slogan of UP police force is, but their body language and words give very little confidence to continue any kind of conversation with them. It took me a while to locate the right police station which covers our area. But then they would not write the complaint as a) they were very busy on the phone preparing for some real police action with the seniors and b) I had lost the wallet in Delhi which is outside their jurisdiction. It made no impact even when I told them that I am not expecting them to investigate and help me in recovering the wallet or its content but just want them to register a FIR so that I can get its copy attached with my applications to various government department for reissuing the driving licence, car and bike registration certificate and PAN card. It was clear that they were not in any hurry to take up a nonsensical case like this which will only stay there without any closer, just to ruin their performance statistics and I am just wasting their and my time.
I rang up someone – as its usually in our blessed country, it took just one call to some one in Delhi Police requesting for a favor (it was a return of favor actually for what I have done for this gentleman in the past) – and yes it worked, he spoke to someone else and directed me to reach a Police Station in East Delhi to get my FIR registered. Again it was a struggle to locate the police station, but finally I managed to locate the posh looking building which was extraordinarily well lit and clean for a government office, the entrance to it was camouflaged by a slum colony. Yes an unauthorized slum colony has mushroomed under the nose of the Police station, or maybe it was already there before the police station building came up and nobody has bothered to notice it so far.
The staff was helpful since I was referred to by one of their own. The senior constable first asked me to write an application, but then had difficult in reading the application in English, so I summarized it again to him so that he can write it on the register in Hindi. He sought and got a favor on my behalf from a female constable who agreed to punch the detail in the computer system and give me a printout of FIR. After 3 failed attempts finally the system worked and I got a copy of FIR at around 16:00.
I was barely out of the police station with a copy of prized FIR that I got a call on my mobile. The person on the other end claimed to have found my walled and asked me to come to Sainik Farms in South Delhi to collect the same. This was a big shocker for me, I never expected this to happen, so soon. Thanking the guy again and again for his good Samaritan beliefs, I jumped on my bike I was off quickly for a long drive from East to Southern part of Delhi.
Another shocker was waiting for me when I reached the rendezvous point, I got my wallet and nothing was missing from the wallet, including the small amount of cash that was there. I was amazed beyond my wits, I have had a similar experience in Chicago, USA when a cab driver returned me my bag with all its contents, but in Delhi, in today’s high crime rate environment, I was not expecting this at all. The person refused to keep the money even when I told him that I only came there for the important registration documents and driving licence only. Despite my repeated request he refused to keep the money. It was truly a very humbling experience. My faith in humanity and the basic goodness in each of us human being got rekindled.
So I can say Honesty is not Dead in Delhi, the city of my birth, the city that I love.
Or is it???
I was still unable to figure out the whole puzzle. How come the walled that slipped out of my hand at a petrol station reached about 10km away into this honest man’s hand.
I probed just a little bit, not to embarrass or put him in a spot but just to understand what has happened. So the story he told me was this – He is a contractor a number of people work for him, two of his boys found my wallet near the petrol pump (yes they found it where I had lost it) and brought it back to their workplace. When the contract return later in the afternoon after the lunch, he saw the wallet, found my contact details inside it and called me.
He offered me tea and a smoke which I politely declined, I offered some money to the boys who found it and they again refused. We shook hand, I thanked them again and again, hope they get blessed by god for their good will gesture and started my journey back home. It was already 19:00, the event of the whole Saturday were moving in front of my eye like a story. Came back home and then took the family out of a joy rides in the nearby fair ground to spend the money which I had already considered lost earlier in the day.
There were many questions in my mind when I went to bed that night, and I just let them linger on without being judgmental or trying to find logical reasons for the sequence of events. Thank god for her/his mysterious ways…
PS : This is not a work of fiction but my personal experience on 9th March 2013