You know I am crazy about shoes. I know, that’s pretty evident considering I am a woman and after diamonds, shoes are a girl’s next best friend. Anyway, shoes are the prettiest accessories anyone can own, no questions asked. Seemingly there is one shoe that I dread more than any other. This shoe bites…. every time.
So the story goes thus. I own a humble car that takes me around town. It is one of my favorite possessions and each day I am grateful to be behind the wheel. You know that feeling when you are in control…you are in charge. I love that feeling! Now, this particular car has been very dear to me since its as old as my daughter and has been with me ever since. I mean it even joined me here in Mumbai when I moved. I could not have imagined mobility without it, anyway!
Coming to Mumbai was a life changer in many ways. I got a lot of perspective to a lot of things including rules about car parking. The place where I stay does not have a parking for me so I park my car anywhere outside the gates where I can find a place each evening-under the tree, outside a shop, next to the gates and any such place which is accessible and convenient, always making sure it is ‘properly’ parked (according to me). And, even if for a single day the cleaning boy does not turn up, the car looks like the public utility of crows and pigeons and autumn for the dying leaves.
Also, anywhere in Mumbai, it is always a challenge to get a decent parking. ‘A decent parking’ you ask? Well, a parking space that is safe, I say! There have been times when I have parked my car at a certain place for almost 10 days and suddenly one fine day it is towed by the cops. On inquiry I am told it was supposed to be on the left of the tree and not on the right. Huh? There have also been times when I have made an honest mistake like a signage that says ‘odd days no parking’ and I have parked on the opposite side considering I am supposed to park on the opposite side for odd days. My bad, I know! But the result is always the same.
The situations I have mentioned above are not just the two times I have been in such a soup. There have been more. Like, car parked next to a bus stop (whether it is in use or not, does not count), angular parking, parking in an alley, parking outside a store, parking because the car is not registered in Mumbai and all such other reasons. You don’t believe me? Well, what do you say to a case where my car is parked sandwiched between two other ‘local’ cars and they tow mine! Argh!!
The beauty of it all is that the cops I meet all these times, look just the same. Frowned and grumpy expression, dark heavy mustaches, pot bellied and comfortably planted behind the grilled window. Every time I am in such a situation (ahem!) I walk up to the window and they look suspiciously at me (I have a non Mumbai registration plate, you see) and then extend their hand, without a word, to ask for the required documents. Every time!
Yesterday was another such situation (not again!). In the evening, I go to pick my daughter from her daycare and always, at least for the last one year, I have been parking my car outside their gate. But this time, they decided it was wrong and I had to rush over to the spot from where I could get it. The same old routine – frowned and grumpy expression, dark heavy mustaches, pot bellied, comfortably planted behind the grilled window, suspicious look, extended hand and all that. Six times in 3 years (bad score?!) and I somehow could not help but smile at the situation. He grew even more suspicious when I asked him where the guy with key to the shoe was. He pointed at a direction I could not comprehend, but I guessed nevertheless. Once my car was cleared I walked back to the window and called the fellow at the other end.
He looked at me, ‘what is it now?’
‘Can I take the yellow shoe home?’ I asked while he kept guessing what it really meant.