Last week we looked at chaos caused by the IND number plates and their fluctuating legal status. If that be the problems of the motor car owner, the two-wheeler users are not better off in any way. They can be hauled up by the long arm of the law for not using helmets, giving someone a ride on the pillion, not having certain documents (as to what these are MMM is not certain) and not adhering to number plate rules. In the last-named category it is the style of lettering that the gendarmerie is finicky about. In number plates they would like everything to be just so.

Unlike cars where you can never be certain as to who is seated inside (minister’s mother, MLA’s maid, bureaucrat’s brother, etc), the police are on much firmer ground when it comes to the two-wheelers. The hoi polloi are easy pickings. And so they pounce on this unfortunate category of road-user with what in the old days would have been termed as gay abandon. A quick pounce, a jerking off of the ignition key with a deft flick of the wrist, and the victim is at your mercy.

The other day, MMM was walking by (he finds that he is happiest using this natural form of transport) when he espied a group of policemen lurking behind a few lampposts at a sharp bend. The moment a two-wheeler rounded the corner two or three of the cops would step out and apprehend the alleged offender. But this is an era when even mosquitoes and viruses have acquired new survival skills and the two-wheeler users have also become wiser. They rarely drive along a kerb, preferring to be in the middle of the road, which is really the safest spot in any Chennai thoroughfare. This being the case, the police sometimes miss their prey. And that is precisely what happened at least on three occasions on that day, at least as far as MMM could observe!

The seniormost among the policemen was not happy. He then whispered something to one of the juniors and, therefore, more agile specimens, by which MMM means some of them whose paunches did not reach their knees. The next time a two-wheeler user came around and tried to evade the embrace of the law, the young policeman was to run after and apprehend him. It worked very well in theory but not so much in practice. For one, there were other and bigger vehicles on the road and these hindered his catching up with a truant two-wheeler. The young cop was putting himself to great risk, and all for some minor violation, which would not have happened if there was greater clarity on the law in the first place.