A 1000 bucks in your pocket

I am not a great story teller.Or maybe I am or maybe I think I am.

Anyway, I got my drivers’ license recently,and man! it was one hell of a ride.I am not being sarcastic, and no! when I say one hell of a ride,I don’t mean the number8 turn bikers take.It’s whole bribe scene I am referring to. To some Sri Lankans the situation over there is not surprising at all. But seriously, there’s bribery and there’s BRIBERY.Over there at the “Department of Mortor Traffic” in, Verahera, Boralesgamuwa what takes place is BRIBERY!!!

Well, here’s the story:

Time:9.oo am, Place:Verahera,Boralesgamuwa, Boy: The Nut Cracker, Mission:Obtain drivers’ license.

I get down from the car (Don’t roll your eyes, I was dropped!!!), slam the door shut, walk through the gate in slow motion. (background music: Limp Bizkit’s Take a look around, from MI-II).Slowly I turn my head to look at security guard in a very “Tom Cruise” manner. The guy is asleep, coast clear, I sneak in. Hiding behind a tree, I Reach into my pocket, pull out my “all most in pieces” Nokia 2650,and press 10 digits.

Beep!Beep!Beep!

“He-caugh-llo-caugh-hello?”, I hear the voice of a definite smoker.

“Rodger”, I whisper,”I am here”.To add a bit of drama, let’s call him Sir.Rodger Baskerville.Yes that’s the real name of the villainous Stapleton from The Hound of the Baskervilles. This special Rodger however, is too weak to be the villain due to excessive smoking and drinking. You know how harmful these cheap filter-less fags and bush-fanta are.(Bush fanta is slang for Kassippu, an illegal low quality cider. Nope!No apples and pears go in it, but maybe a few mosquito coils!!!)

Back to Sir.Rodger Baskerville. Well, to be honest, I’ve never seen this guy before.My “Learners” (shouldn’t they call themselves “Trainers”?. However, they are the people whom I pay to train me to drive and help me to get my license) gave me his number, since he acted as a middle person between The Learners and the Authorities. (You smell illegal transactions? Good instinct, you are going to need it if you ever come to Verahera.)

“Come to the Gate”,says Sir.Rodger Baskerville, a series of coughs follow.I meet him at the gate.

“Son, why didn’t you come earlier, we could have had a test run”, says Rodger.

I smile, but within, I question myself,” Is this dude off his gourd or something? I’ve had enough test runs, and I payed Rs.14,000/= for that!!!”

Rodger Baskerville, in his sly voice,instructs me to take a look at the person who calls out my name and report to him, immediately before signing the official documents.”What a guy!”

I do as he said. As I show him exactly who called out my name, our good knight Rodger’s face turns knight. He makes a fake “Oh no!” face in the most obvious way possible.” Quick, let’s go for a test run”, says Rodger, switching to panic mode.”You are not a good actor Rodger”, I whisper to myself.

In the car, Rodger becomes Jekyl. Rodger does his best to scare me whilst screaming on top of his lungs “2nd gear”,”Slow down!What’s the rush?”, ”Where are your Signals son?”I pretend that I’m not listening, but within, I am giving poor Rodger’s whole Baskerville race a lesson in vocabulary.

After a short drive-which felt like a very long one indeed-Sir.Rodger asks me to pull over.I pull over.

“Without at least Rs.1000/= there’s no way of getting your license son”,says Rodger without letting me talk,”I’ll negotiate with the examiner, you do as I say”.

“Well,isn’t that what I’ve been doing all day?”As I try to put my thoughts into words, Rodger goes again.”When I tap on your shoulder, switch to the next gear, when I whisper “turn”, you turn”.

I nod.

“When I say pull over, pull over. All the best son, keep that 1000 bucks in your pocket”.

Well, so much for Rodger and his thousand ,pardon my poor sense of humour and the need bring a little bit of drama to the story. The intention was to bring this bribe scene to light. OK, I know it’s happening in broad day light,but this is the best I can do about it.Blog!!!

For years, bus drivers have reigned, the Lankan Road Hog scene.But considering the way things happen in The Department of Motor Traffic, I am starting to feel it all started in Verahera. As long as you’ve got 1000 or 2000 bucks in your pocket, you’re good to go. No wonder they run over pregnant women, on the Zebra-crossing it self. (No Claim Bonus you know….not for the woman of course!!!). It is high time the authorities started doing something about it. OK, I know, many angry blog posts end in this manner, “Somehow, someone has to do something, before something happens to someone, someday”. But, honestly, this is the best I can do. Blog!!!

– Mithila.

Mithila is a BB-ite and the lead guitarist at Inhale Mary. He blogs at The Nut Cracker and a few other places.

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Posted on 03/24/2008, in Opinions, Sri Lanka and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Been there done that. 😀 1000 is usually the normal rate isnt it? Its more of a license sale than an examination of any sort @ Verahera. The thing is, its so open and well known. Its all but advertised on a signboard out front that licenses are exchanged for bribes. 😛

  2. Very true… In fact one of my cousin brother got a license with out even going for trial… Great article bro.. Feel sad about Sri Lanka though..

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