Thursday, March 13, 2008

Generation Gap

17th February 2007 11:45 pm
Domestic Airport, Santa Cruz, Mumbai.

Inspector Shinde was dozing off. It had been long night. Just a year more and night duties would be history for him. After 30 years in the force his rest was well earned and long overdue. But these last couple of months had been troublesome. The commissioner had introduced the ‘partner’ concept into Mumbai police, all senior officers would be accompanied by a younger officer, to build camaraderie in the force and help younger officers learn the tricks of the trade quicker. And what better way to go about it than to learn from senior officers in the field of duty.
Shinde had been assigned a partner, sub-inspector Ashutosh Jogilkar, a fresh graduate of the Marol Police Academy. Ashutosh was a topper in his batch, a star in the making and apparently a personal favorite of ACP Degwekar. Shinde could ill afford to get into the bad books of Degwekar. Despite having spent 30 years in the force, Nilesh Shinde was yet to receive a gallantry award, and he had put in a special request to his senior so that ACP Degwekar could be convinced to award him during the upcoming Independance Day Parade for his role in the curbing the riots in Nasik last August. Though his role in the riots did not warrant a gallantry award but Shinde was hoping that the Nasik riot prevention force would surely have a quota in the awards and his seniority would be given due importance. Hence to get to that award Shinde would have to be good to the green horn.
The night duty at the domestic airport was a ‘soft’ posting. Hardly anything happened there except customers haggling with rickshaw drivers for over-charging them in the pretext of night fares and an occasional drunk loitering by.
Shinde had been observing Ashutosh off-late. He seemed like a bright kid but a little over-zealous for action, a product of watching too many Hollywood cop movies he thought. Shinde would often think to himself, young officers these days always look for an excuse to shoot and grab the limelight. “Shoot-out” cops were the order of the day and gone were the days of arrests and interrogations. He often wondered what was taught in these police academies, his generation never went to one and they turned out quite all right.
Ashu as Shinde preferred to call him was running one of Shinde’s silly errands, fetching his favorite cup of tea from a stall near Ville Parle. Though a favorite of ACP Degwekar, Ashutosh hardly threw his weight around. Shinde liked that about Ashu. But that was only one of the few things he liked about Ashutosh.
Ashutosh had just fetched Shinde’s cup of tea. Sipping the hot tea from the stained glasses Ashutosh seemed a little tense today. Shinde wondered why these young officers were like this. “Tense at this age!!” Shinde laughed to himself “Wonder what they’ll end up as when they get to our age.”
Close to 2 in the morning Shinde eye lids were starting to become heavy. He decided take a stroll and relieve himself. Ashutosh was standing near the entrance of Gate 2. Shinde laughed, the ever cautious police officer, “this generation is so stressed out”, he thought out to himself.
Nilesh had just turned round the corner when all of a sudden he heard a loud bang!! Rushing back towards the airport gate he found a man lying in a pool of blood and Chinese made pistol lying next to him. Ashutosh was trembling, his gun was still smoking. Inspector Shinde quickly asked Ashutosh to move away. A crowd had started gathering around the scene. Inspector Shinde called up the ambulance and also the nearest police station.

15th August 2007 10:30 am
Independance Day Celebration, Mumbai

Shinde’s eyes welled up. His childhood dream had come true. Receiving the gallantry award from the governor, Shinde felt proud. But he knew he would be indebted to Ashu forever. After the shootout Ashutosh filed a report stating that the shot was fired by Inspector Shinde. The man killed in the shootout was the famed gangster Abu Hasan, the kingpin of the Mumbai underworld. Mumbai had two major gangs, the one run by Abu Hasan and the other by Mukesh bhai. This shootout would definitely help Mukesh-bhai. In his report Ashutosh had stated that at 02:45 on the 18th of February 2007, Abu Hasan had come down to the domestic airport to catch a flight but Inspector Shinde on recognizing Abu challenged him to surrender and on being fired at by Abu, Inspector Shinde had shot Abu Hasan.
Ashutosh requested Inspector Shinde to concur with his story. It didn’t add up but Ashutosh said that he wanted Shinde-saab to get the credit, a well deserved reward for a long career. Shinde was stunned. He couldn’t refuse, but Ashutosh’s gesture completely changed his mindset. Indeed today’s generation isn’t all that bad he would think each night. Ashutosh had changed his life forever.

15th August 2007 9:00 pm
Somewhere in suburban Mumbai

Ashutosh sat on the sofa, holding his drink. Mukesh-bhai’s hideout was too dingy for him but who was he to complain. Patting Ashu on the back Mukesh bhai handed over a bundle of notes to him-“Here’s your gallantry award Inspector Ashutosh” he thundered and then laughed away to glory.
Mukesh bhai looked at Ashutosh.” Saab, you are way smarter than I thought. We gave you Abu so that you could kill him for us, but you gave the credit to that loser Inspector Shinde. The whole department is now raving about you. You may even become ACP within a couple of years. What a move saab, our partnership while thrive and we rule Mumbai”, said Mukesh bhai laughing hysterically, spilling a little drink on his silk lungi.
Ashutosh sipped his drink, lay back on the sofa, and looked at the slowly moving fan on the ceiling. “Shinde will never figure this out, the generation gap is too much for him to bridge”, muttered Ashutosh.