the great plastic ban and other stories
there are several old sayings to the effect of something like “one man’s fortune is another man’s loss” or “one man’s luck is another man’s curse” or even “one man’s stolen mobile is another man’s cash equivalent” – well ok, that’s a relatively new saying – but few people would have associated this with banning plastic bags. even so, when the powers that be finally banned a certain range of micron grade plastic bags in the city, after at least a decade of hue and cry mind you, several people jumped for joy. there were the environmentalists, the conservationists, the social-minded journalists and all other “-ists” that you can think of except internists at veterinary hospitals because the turtles seem to have their biggest problem solved.
nobody noticed the blokes from the capital city police department doing their celebratory bhangra….
for all the fine work done by our lawmakers and policymakers and the fine enforcement done by our supremely efficient “law enforcing authorities” (i love that term. its like something an insane child would have conjured up for show-and-tell in the third grade), in the sixty years of pakistan’s existence, there has not been a single law that has not been publicly flouted. and there have been few of these public floutings that have not made our khaki and grey clad gentlemen’s pockets a little heavier, if you follow my gist. and mundane as it may seem to the average shopper, a crime with a penalty of upto rs. 50,000 and six months in the pen is a veritable gold mine for any self-respecting city cop.
and so this humble scribe witnessed today a series of raids carried out in the nazimabad region by a bunch of paunchy tullas accompanied by the token officer from the city district government. the interesting thing about the raids was not the guy in civvies who kept reminding the sales staff about the maximum penalty. nor was it the other bloke who was having a ball of a time checking practically half the bags in the airconditioned shop on his micronmeter while the mobile driver had his little siesta outside in the sweltering heat. and it wasn’t even the grinning cop who bought one gulabjamun for himself to celebrate the fact that “city government kaam kar rahi hai”. no. it was the selection of shops that had been made. the little guys were all ignored and while that may make sense to some, it doesn’t really make sense because they’re the ones most likely to be breaking the law. the inspectors chose only those shops which are hugely successful, like ahbab sweets and real bakery, owned by guys who whether or not they mey be so inclined (and i’m definitely not suggesting that they are) certainly have the deep pockets to make the cops leave with smiles on their faces.
and despite my badgering and trailing and irritating them for fifty minutes the only response i got to my query as to why they hadn’t invaded the legendary gole market, only a stone’s throw away and home to a whole bunch of plastic bag wholesalers, was “that’s next on our list”. i asked if i could see the so-called list but well, some things are classified in the interests of national security. we understand.
the guys at gole market had not been visited even five hours after i left the lovely raiding party. ho hum. i suppose they probably busted enough gangs of illicit plastic bag dealers to call it a day. but i shouldn’t complain. one man’s pain in the neck is another man’s discount-worthy customer. the amused guys at the bakery gave me a seven rupee discount on the sixty-seven rupee purchase. way cool.