It is the season of celebration and cheer and everything other than water is flowing in the city that we all love so much. The police force, whose task it is to see that the citizenry sticks to the safe and narrow and does not come to a sticky end through wayward driving, has taken upon itself the responsibility of weeding out from the roads those who have made merry rather freely. Unfortunately, in its view, The Man from Madras Musings is also one of them.

And in this the police force errs for MMM’s abstemiousness is a byword among those who know him well. In fact this is what keeps MMM from receiving invitations to bottle parties for it is an open secret that the only use that MMM is of on such occasions is that of a driver to drop home the more spiritually uplifted among the attendees. However, the gendarmerie does not share this sentiment. In its jaundiced view, MMM has the looks of one who on the milk of honey hath fed and done so rather only too well. Perhaps it has to do with the way MMM’s eyes are structured or it could have to do with his general deportment but there it is, the police stops MMM repeatedly and having informed him that it is only a random check, asks him if he would kindly step that way.

MMM never argues with the law enforcers. He meekly follows and does whatever they tell him to do. The first of these is to blow his breath on to their faces. Here again MMM does not complain but the manner in which the party at the receiving end shields its face when MMM breathes out what he always considers a healing zephyr is nothing short of offensive. MMM’s breath is of the best, nurtured as it is through the most superior of toothpastes, brushes, mouthwashes and fresheners. But the police force, as MMM has said, shies away in a startled fashion. It then invariably apologises for having suspected MMM of being drunk and disorderly and waves him on his way. Thus far MMM has not been asked to blow into a balloon but in his view the day is not far off.

There is much in this whole process that is most inefficient. Firstly, the spots where this rabid dry brigade hangs out are well known. So those who imbibe rather freely avoid these routes as far as possible on their way home. Secondly, the modus operandi of checking out those on a high is faulty to the extreme. What is the purpose in a whole posse of policemen descending on a single vehicle as though it contains a dangerous extremist armed to his teeth? One man should do the task but here a strict hierarchy ensures that several are provided employment – a higher up indicates the car to be stopped, the next lower down taps on the window, a third explains why the halt was necessitated and a fourth, invariably the junior-most, receives the full blast of the bad breath and at times the foul language of the driver. All the while, other vehicles, no doubt driven by people who are well above the safe limit, are all whizzing by.

Moreover, this preliminary check by blowing is hardly foolproof; for any drunk can eat food filled with onion and garlic and then get behind the wheel. Also the logic on the basis of which cars are stopped defies any er…logic. Women drivers are never questioned. Men with women and children in their car are given the go by. MMM is told that those with religious symbols on their faces are also respectfully waved on. So the next time you want to make merry and still drive your vehicle, you know what to do.