Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Kathmandu Traffic Police's campaign against drunk driving: Nipping a problem in the bud

I was recently visiting Kathmandu, it was the height of the festive season (the time of Deepawali). One evening, I met old friends from school, the clock was getting closer to half past 8 and slowly the restaurant started to empty out, I guess it was a mix of the outdoor venue, the cold weather, and the famous "Ma Pa Se" that had this effect.

*Ma Pa Se stands for Madak Padartha Sewan, or consuming intoxicating substance. 

I had heard a lot of "Ma Pa Se" and read about it on myriad news websites, blogs and the morning radio stream from Nepal that I listened to.

Anyway, the clock ticked to 9 PM and instead of our customary "daaru" we decided to head back to our respective homes, I think it was a mix of the 6 years of wisdom (read getting old) since we had last had our "daaru" together, families and children waiting back home and the fact that it was getting cold, I don't know for my friends, but for me, traveling from 35 deg C to 5 deg C was surely making me feel cold.

While we were wrapping up, there wasn't even a mention of "Ma Pa Se" between us.

I dropped one of my friends at Koteshwor, and another at Lazimpat, and by the time I was heading back to my own abode, clock had ticked past 9:30 and the "Ma Pa Se (checking)" was in full swing. At a traffic police picket I could clearly see more than a dozen motor bikes stopped, with no riders on board, on the pavement sat 2 blokes, most likely in their late teens with their heads in the hand and another one p***ing behind them, I also saw a young lady, about the same age, or maybe a couple of years older arguing with the traffic police sergeant there. 

As I got closer, I was flagged to slow down and stop, I complied (remember I had drank no "daaru" at all), rolled down my window. The traffic cop looked at me, and respectfully asked me, "Sir kata bata aundai hununcha? [Sir - where are you coming from]" my response was I am heading back home after dropping off a few friends to their homes, what he asked me was, I suppose the routine question, "Sir le drink garnu bha ko ho? [Sir - have you had any drink?]" my response, with a simple smile was "No", he looked at me (I was thinking to my self, any cop who asks have you drank (alcohol) is bound to get 'No' for an answer), I guess he was satisfied with my response and also the fact that I had not drank any alcohol, he just flagged me on.

I had not even driven 10 meters ahead that another cop asked me to stop, I did so. And a senior official from the group came up to me, said he wanted to have a word with me, he looked into the car and asked me where was I headed, I told him New Baneshwor, and
then asked me something that just bewildered me "Could you drop this young lady (term used - sister) on your way, she lives in Tripureshwor" I was amazed at his request.

I asked him why, and he said that her boyfriend was completely drunk and has been puking for the past 15 minutes (the guy with his face in the drain I saw earlier), I couldn't help but ask him, why me? His response was I looked like a decent person, and that there were no taxis available. I said, OK...

She got into the car and I drove on, I could get a whiff of alcohol from her, in the empty streets, it took me less than 5 minutes to arrive in Tripureshwor and I asked here where does she stay, she said behind the Dashrath stadium I went that way and she asked me to stop at a dark blue gate, I stopped at the gate, she said "Thank you (still trying to act sober) and no sooner that she got out, the gate opened and perhaps it was her mother who came to receive her, at first her mother looked relieved, then looked at me with a very strange look, and I guess by then realized that her daughter was drunk I suppose she asked her if she was.

The gate closed, I turned my car around and headed home...

OK, now why am I writing this right now? The reason is I just read this piece of news: In fight against drunk driving, traffic police emerge as victor http://www.ekantipur.com/2012/12/04/capital/in-fight-against-drunk-driving-traffic-police-emerge-as-victor/363582.html; and this story just came back to me...

My comment: It is my firm belief that the traffic police in Nepal have for once, nipped a problem in the bud, and they are continuing to nip the problem every day. By stopping and removing an intoxicated person from behind a wheel, they are making the Kathmandu roads safer.

Good work Kathmandu Traffic Police!

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