The dilemma of roadside vending

Location: Lokhandwala Circle, Kandivali East, Mumbai

Two policemen, seated in a police van (Bolero), with beacon, et al, on patrol. The van is conspicious as it crawls up the road, stopping every few metres, and disrupting the traffic while doing so. I see it during one such stop, with a vegetable vendor at its window, handing notes to the policeman seated next to the driver. Everyone around seems to be looking away, but both the policeman and the vendor see that I have seen. It is the vendor who looks uncomfortable, while the policeman looks through me as if I do not exist, and the vulture van moves forward to its next prey.

“Is that money that you gave to the policeman?” I ask the vendor.

His vegetable shop, well equipped for the monsoons with a blue tarpaulin sheet, is set up with a large table right in the place where the footpath should be. People who are walking are forced onto the road while negotiating the corner he occupies. He is not alone. There are others in this corner, where a new footpath is yet to be laid after recent road concreting.

Roadside vendors
This is an aerial, night-time view of “The corner”. The blue tarpaulin is the policemen’s noted victim. Note where the pedestrians walk.

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Paying octroi for your car in Mumbai

When you move to Mumbai with a car that has been registered outside Mumbai, as per the Mumbai Municipal Corporation (levy) of Octroi Rules, 1965, the car is treated as “imported” and octroi needs to be paid. Most often, the car is driven into the city and not transported in a carrier, so the payment of octroi at that time is bypassed, either wilfully or inadvertently.

The Mumbai Municipality (BMC), in a bid to recover precious octroi revenue, regularly conducts drives at apartment complexes to look out for non-Mumbai registered cars. Owners of the car parking slots where such cars are found are sent notices by BMC, asking them to pay up the octroi due for the cars parked there.

A few months after we moved to Mumbai we realised that octroi, that was payable on our car, had not been paid. This through a BMC notice. Continue reading

Making the “right” way, the “only” way

Khatas without bribes in Bangalore

A Khata is an account of assessment of a property, recording details about the property such as size, location, built up area and so on for the purpose of payment of property tax. It is also a kind of identification of the person who is primarily liable for payment of property tax. It is one of the required documents in case you require a building licence, trade licence or loan from banks or any other financial institutions. (Source:

This document should really come as a natural consequence of buying a flat or other property. But Continue reading

Another “fine” encounter with a traffic policeman

It was a few years ago. I was stopped by the traffic policeman in Richmond Town for “jumping red light and reckless driving”. As expected, I was told that I’d have to pay a fine, but at the end of the conversation that ensued, I was let off with no exchange of money, just a warning.

Now here again I was, at another traffic signal in Richmond Town, in front of another policeman, but for a different traffic violation. I realize that I run the risk of being classified as a habitual traffic offender, but I must clarify that on both occasions, I blame it on the traffic signals rather than my seemingly inadequate driving skills.  Continue reading