Twentieth-century typewriters, their parts like key levers, carriage, roller and tabulator, and their functions were unintelligible to us kids, though my elder brother, who was a steno in the DC’s office in the 1950s, had access to all carriage sizes A to E. Even when we grew up, we were not supposed to touch, much less try to type on his personal machine. Hardly 5 per cent college professors owned a portable model. It was a status symbol among academics those days. So, when we college teachers got some arrears, it was a windfall and the first thing I did was to purchase an American Sears Carriage A professional for Rs 3,000. I was on cloud nine and flaunted my purchase before whoever visited our place, whether they were interested or not. I could be seen tapping and ‘tick-ticking’, making address labels for friends or stickers for school notebooks. I hardly felt any other use, till I had a brainwave. Why not type a bombastic letter to the SP Traffic!
I purchased a ream of special paper, a conspicuous pink shade, a brand-new ink ribbon and a pack of carbon sheets. I typed the flawless draft, slipped it into an envelope and posted it. I had done the most important social duty, I thought.
After a couple of days, I was challaned for ‘wrong parking in Hall Bazaar’, even though I had not even parked my scooter nor had I any intention to. I was sitting on my stationary two-wheeler and conversing with a friend, but the cop would not relent. He said his new boss, who was strict, had just driven past to his office and had gestured to challan me.
I had to surrender my Registration Certificate (RC) and received the ticket for appearing before the DTO. I tried to retrieve the RC through other means, fair or foul, but in vain. The South Indian IPS officer had earned ‘notoriety’ for being strict about traffic violations. As a last-ditch effort, an influential colleague offered to take me to the SP’s office. The officer was busy with a group of well-dressed young men, who perhaps had been hauled up for some minor infringements and were getting a dressing-down.
On a closer view, I saw that he had a pink paper in his right hand, which I understood was the letter written by me, asking, among other things, to be strict on irresponsible parking.
I had no moral courage left to plead for leniency and meekly chose to appear before the DTO and pay the penalty.
Later, it was discovered that the two-wheeler that the officer had ordered to be challaned was some other number because the officer kept a private record of his orders!