Perch Power !

Wonder what image comes to your mind, the moment you hear ‘cop’ !

To a small towner like me, this elevated perch of the local traffic constable in Madurai is permanently etched in memory.

He had to climb a ladder to get to his post. And there he stood. Majestic. With his khaki trousers and white shirt. The metal buttons seeming to be just about successful in holding back a pot belly from falling apart.

Yet, tall. Majestic. And the wave of the white gloves that had the power to stop anyone on his or her tracks. Not that the tracks themselves had wheels that would set the road on fire. But that’s a different story.

At other times, he held a round metal object ensconced in those gloves. That almost gave them a God like visage. Written on it, in bright red : ‘STOP’ !

That blue and white perch, with a funny pointed top, designed with the ostensible reason of protecting him from the sun and the rain, offered a sight of opulence and raw power. In the eyes of school kids. Like me.

In the modern days, the perches have slowly started dwindling. As automated signals replace the white glove and the rolling glare ! The man himself, stands besides the signal or under the tree. Waiting for the next offender. Causing the mind to wonder if he misses the days where he was on a different plane !

Well. Nostalgic struck. The other day, a neighbours kid asked for some help. In writing out a small essay on ‘Ambition in life’. When i was her age, i told her, my ambition was to become a traffic constable.

She smiled. And asked me to get serious. And in all seriousness, i told her, that that was who i wanted to become.

What flew by as the explanation reached her ears were the….White gloves, gleaming buttons, metal whistle, polished shoes and power to wave anybody down. ( No. The potbelly isn’t part of this list).

She didn’t get it. I guess she doesn’t quite know the perch side of this story !

24 thoughts on “Perch Power !

  1. Took me back to my schooldays, this post.

    Our school bus would take a right turn around such a perched cop every morning, and we always waved out and sometimes even saluted the cop on duty. And he always acknowledged, even saluting us back.

    Today’s kid, will never have the perch perspective, immersed as they are in bucket seats in cars with tinted windows, and hands that continuously tap cell phone keyboards, as two wires stick in their ears.

    Of course, today’s cops basically stand and wait. To catch folks. Hopefully, at some point they will also learn to serve….

  2. Phoenix says:

    ha ha ha ha… isn’t it funny the things we wanted to be when we were young.. and look at us now.. !
    the picture is a masterpiece 🙂

  3. Neha says:

    it took me too back to my school days…I never used to like to go to school…spending there few hours in those four walls with a khadus teacher – I dreaded school…that time I had decided I would become the peon when I grow up who rings the chutti bell everyday…I will ring it as soon as it starts…

    loved the narration kavi…thank u for the post and the usual stuff that I write – by now that goes by default right? :))

  4. P says:

    i vaguely recollect aspiring to be a house painter when I was all of 5 … and writing on the wall was strictly prohibited!In sharp, utterly unfair contrast… the painter was not only encouraged to do his job.. but was also paid for it!!

  5. Kevin says:

    Your detailed explanation of the ‘cop’ was great.

    None of today’s kids will understand the ambitions we had when we were young. Wonder what the kid you were helping out wanted to become… That would have probably told a whole story by itself.

  6. Pearl says:

    I can quite see the allure of being the traffic cop! The gloves, the sign, the power to say, “you! slow down!”


    I hope your present position is as satisfying!


  7. Rush says:

    i for once wanted to become a plumber…why?? coz people will always have problems in the house and i wanted to do a better job than the plumber that used to come to our house and as soon as he stepped out, the plumbing broke.

    So, i can totally understand ur idea of being a constable…the king of the road!!

  8. Swatantra says:

    That’s beautiful!!

    I grew up in a small city and never had a chance to come across with these people.. and in delhi you find everywhere..

    Sometimes i feel that they do a very hard job to save our time.. its not always they have nice stands to manage.. most of the time they are on the road in sun, heat, cold and rain..

  9. manju says:

    Nice description of the cop’s job!

    I have seen these type of ‘perches’- temporary though- at Girgaum Chowpatty on the day of Ganapati Visarjan.

  10. sujata says:

    To me cops are the horse mounted ones that you still see in Calcutta, theres something exciting about a cop on a horseback in a busy city road, its as it two different time zones are converging. I think a boy the age of your neighbour’s girl would have identified more with your wish..the female traffic cops in India really dont provide much for ambition, I am not forgetting Kiran Bedi..but shes not an image that comes to mind when we talk of a traffic cop!

  11. ♥ Braja says:

    Oh boy, what they go through, those police….

  12. Jeevan says:

    This remind me the days going to school were we stand beside the perch in bike waiting for him to allow us to cross the road! i used to think sometime seeing the traffic police standing on road than climbing on elevated perch, that they’re lazy to climb on!

  13. Very well written kavi….u have explained it well. Kids of today have different tastes and are exposed to different thing that u were not exposed to. That kid thats why was able to relate it .

  14. Aleta says:

    I love that you shared this picture along with the story. I was smiling from ear to ear looking at the picture! Who wouldn’t want to sit on that perch. I’ve never seen anything like that before!

  15. My uncle had a similar ambition for a similar reason.
    And that perch looks as grand as a pagoda. Could easily give the ‘percher’ delusions of grandeur.

  16. I remember once on news channel I saw a traffic constable whistling & dancing while controlling traffic.
    It was funny And then arrive Billy Bowden – The cricket umpire.
    You remember?

  17. to this day, i associate pot (marathi- potbelly in english) with the word ‘cop’…your perch- story is interesting…and btw, wonder why it looks more like a throne!:)

  18. Sujatha says:

    Those were the golden days, Kavi. These days they’re more likely to be in the middle of the intersection, in the thick of exhaust from a million vehicles a day, the paltry handkerchiefs around their noses and mouths unable to keep up.

  19. Jeevan says:

    Wish you Happy Deepavali kavi 🙂

  20. niru says:

    Great Post Kavi!

    My childhood dream was to be Hema Malini!I thought I already had the looks and the hindi accent. Just had to work on the dance steps. Please stop laughing.Serious! Please stop.

    BTW I wished all the Delhi airport security personnel “Happy Diwali” yesterday.You should have seen their serious face stretch into a surprised smile.I think our cops are so under appreciated.

    Happy Diwali Kavi!

  21. cyber gipsy says:

    I searched in Google, this phrase, “Random acts of kindness”. With quotes. some 3 weeks ago. Some of the suggestions were, giving an ice cream / or chilled Tetra pack soft drink like frooty – to traffic constables during summer or during any hot spell.
    Your post reminded me of my recent net search and suggestions.

  22. Kavi says:

    Ugich Konitari : Oh you used to do that ! We did that too. And infact, i became so much of a friend with one particular cop, that when i switched buses, he is said to have stopped the bus and enquired with the bus driver ! For some time i even used to enjoy some power in school. ‘That police uncles friend’ !

    Well, you are bang on in defining our modern kids and their bucket seats and tinted windows.

    Life is like that !

    Phoenix : Yes. Isnt it funny ! And perhaps to look at it through the prism of where we are now, particularly makes it so.

    Neha : What a legitimate and a sincere wish / ambition !

    Thanks for all the generous words !

    P : House Painter ! Wow ! I wanted to become one too. Especially reading Tom Sawyer and Betty Thatcher !

    Kevin : Thank you !

    The kid spun off a few names. Oft repeated was Mallika Sherawat. Now, that is indeed some perch to climb on to. Difficult for me to relate !


    Pearl : Oh yes. The present position indeed is ! Even though i have quite a few shouting at me…you..slow down !

    Rush : Ah ! How lovely. I always thought of plumbers are fixers ! Of some kind or the other ! And so, indeed this is interesting perspective. Will keep that in mind !

    Swatantra : I cant help agree with you more ! I cant help agree with you more than this. That they do far more of a super job than they get acknowledged for.

    i think that those that sit behind airconditioned cars and tinted windows must step out once in a while, to see what it takes to be a traffic cop !

    Well said !

    Manju : Ganpati Visarjan requires perches indeed !!! Some big ones are needed there ! 🙂

    Braja : Oh yes. I cant agree with you more !

    Jeevan : 🙂 I dont know if they are lazy or if the perch has just lost its value !!!!

    NR : Thank you for the comment ! Kids of today live in a very different world i guess ! Very different from the world i grew up in !

    Aleta : Indeed glad that this picture exposes our policmen better to you!!! 🙂

    Sucharita : Ah. I am not alone ! and yes. Delusions it does give !!

    Hobo : I have seen that video too ! very funny one at that !

    NM : How are you ! Its been some time. Well, it is a throne of some sort indeed ! And all thrones had their share of aspirants indeed.

    Sujatha : Yes ! Those were lovely days. These days, they wear flimsy green masks on their faces. Wonder how much of pollution it can hold back !

    Jeevan : Thank you ! Wishing you the same and much more !

    Niru : You bet ! The security gaurds int he building had the same feeling. And one chap broke into a spontaneous tear.

    Sometimes i wonder, why we are headed to, to wherever we go, in such pace that we forget life and the living !

    About Hema Malini…well, i am telling you, you could have given her a serious run for her money ! Serious !

    Cyber Gipsy : I learn from you. Always. Sometimes i am quite astounded as to what all you look up !

    And yes, some random acts of kindness can put a smile in a well orchestrated way ! indeed

  23. My favourite place to visit in Madurai?

    A) Meenakshi Temple

    B) Thirumalai Nayak Palace

    C) Gandhi Museum

    D) Thirupparamkundram

    E) Azhagar Kovil

    F) Mariamman Teppakulam


  24. amreekandesi says:

    haha…and just today i was wondering about the helplessness of traffic cops in disciplining the current crop of drivers who pay absolutely no heed to rules.

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