Posted On Saturday, March 03, 2012 at 08:08:15 AM
There’s one ‘public’ service that never sleeps in the city. That’s the haul-away service run by the guys who keep themselves busy swooping down and carrying off bikes and cars. It’s really entertaining watching the manner in which they execute their task. The bike harvesters in particular.
They appear out of virtually nowhere, young athletes hopping off the tow away vehicle, grabbing bike after offending bike, heaving them into the back of the van and making off.
They ought to make it into the Guinness Book Of Records sooner or later with their kind of agility and speed, racing off with the guilty ones bellowing behind them. One has to be swift footed, tough and thick-skinned to make it into the elite group of bike harvesters.
And as for the ‘guilty’ ones who leave their bikes parked all over the place, well, what can one comment on but their responses when they discover that their steeds have been yanked from their temporary stables.
There are the ‘One At A Time Wallahs’ who finish the task on hand before haring after the van; the ‘OMG Lot’ who whack their foreheads with palm of a hand and stare blankly, immobilised by the sudden loss; the ‘Oblivious Ones’ who scan the pavement sides confused, wondering where the hell their machines have vanished to; the ‘I’ve Been Had’ bunch who imagine someone has stolen their two wheelers; and of course the ‘Catch The Blighters’ before they are out of reach.
The last mentioned lot are many in this city. I’ve seen them charging down the road after the vehicle as it rumbles ahead. In fact, quite recently, I saw a guy accidentally hand the cell phone he had been babbling into to some fellow on the pavement and take off, sprinting down the road after the van.
The fellow who had been handed the instrument stared disbelievingly at it and then at the receding sprinter. He looked around to check if anyone was watching then put it into his pocket and proceeded to walk away. Before I could stop him, he headed down the road at a leisurely lope.
Some time later, the sprinter returned on his steed and looked around for the guy he had handed the phone to. ‘Seen the guy who I gave my phone to?’ He asked.
‘Nope,’ I replied, ‘someone you know?’
‘I’m not into socialising at the moment,’ he snapped, ‘tell me which way the fellow went.’
‘Down the road,’ I replied, pointing into the distance.
‘What was he wearing?’ he wanted to know but I shook my head, ‘don’t remember.’ But a few kind souls attempted descriptions of his garb and he sped off. No idea whether he got his phone back.
But this is hardly as dramatic as a forgetful friend of mine who chased after a tow away van only to discover that he had left his bike at home and had used an auto.
Such is the state of the denizens of Pune. Civic rules aren’t of any consequence and are flouted. But when they are caught on the wrong foot they make asses of themselves. Of course, not all of them.
One early evening I was returning home when I came across an extraordinary sight. A tow away van swooped out of a by-lane, stopped and young buck leapt out and grabbed a wrongly parked bike. The moment he did that, he was attacked by dog sitting nearby.
The fellow tried to fend off the animal but didn’t succeed and ended up getting his trouser leg torn. He dropped the bike and called for reinforcements. His buddy joined him and retreated after getting the rear of his trouser torn off. A crowd collected and watched as the two men tried time and again to get the bike into the van. The dog threw itself at them each time. In the end, they left.
A while later, the owner emerged from a by-lane smiling. He hoisted the dog on to the bike and rode off.
A cheer followed his departure.