A loaded truck, one tired one year old kid, exhausted wife and me, waiting outside a Octroi check post. I can see the driver of my truck pleading to the officer. I do not know anything about what discussion is going on. The only thought I had is, how soon I can get inside my newly rented house and do minimal set up so that my family can take rest. I went outside the car and entered the office. Listened to the argument and in couple of minutes I realized that it is not argument but negotiation is going on. The officer is demanding Rs 20,000 and my truck driver is requesting to settle it down in Rs 2000. But the officer is adamant. Rs 20,000 will make me bankrupt I thought. I was not sure what to do. Then I asked “Why Sir so much? These all my used goods and there is nothing new in these”. He immediately replied “You have washing machine, Fridge, Computer, Microwave and so many other items”. I asked “So what, these all I am using since last several years, why should I pay so much for these”. He whispered “These are the correct rates, if you pay me Rs 3,000, I will let you go. I will even give a receipt for your bike so that no body will catch you”. I immediately agreed and paid.
Few years back I was coming from United States and I had my office Laptop with me. I had bought a personal laptop for me as well. When I reached Mumbai airport I was extremely tired of 22 hours of travel and feeling very sleepy due to Jetlag. I was coming through the customs and one fine gentle man caught my hand. I looked at him. He asked “You have two laptops“?”. I said “Yes”. He said you have to pay duty for one. I said “Why? One is my office laptop and the other one is my personal”. He said “You can not bring two laptops”. I replied saying “I took one of them from here.”. He said “Okay, Either you pay the duty otherwise keep your laptop here and collect once this issue is settled”. I asked “How much duty I have to pay?”. He responded something around Rs 25,000. The total cost of the laptop would have exceeded the cost of same laptop in India by 50%. Without much delay he proposed another option to Pay equivalent of $ 20 and go. I did the same without much delay and escaped.
I always sighed about sharing this with friends. I did it today because I can not preach anybody anything unless I am clean. I thought this is an ideal occasion to confes and repent for my sins. I had ben part of corruption in many occasions like this and I feel guilty about it. Unless I am clean, I can not expect anyone to be clean.
The reason why I did these is because of the fear. Fear of going through the complicated system which can take all my happiness and peace which I can buy with little money. Lack of courage and patience to stand straight.
Where did my courage and patience go? Why I became coward and so helpless? Because I have been fed well, I sleep well at night and I have many people around me to care. My basic needs are fulfilled and my basic needs are not food, shelter and dressing they are rest and entertainment. I fear loosing them. If there is no online option I may find options to find shortcuts than standing in a queue. I have been paid more than I am worth, when compared to many others in this country.
But not anymore. It is difficult to live with these guilt. I better be a stray dog and bark at anything wrong than be a pet dog of a corrupt home.