||Tuesday, December 21, 1999. |
I left my university office around 1
p.m., picked up some grocery at Superstore, and arrived home around 2 p.m.
Raj's message on my answering machine was waiting. Earlier from office, I
had replied Raj's e-mail regards to one one-to-one getting together at
some pub. I called Raj right away, would meet him at McMaster's pub on
Springfield and Dillworth around 5 p.m., and later would have supper at
Raj has just one glass of red wine,
while I would have total two pints of Kokani light beer.
We moved from smoking to non-smoking section midway. Interesting
conversation.. Mostly about Raj's varied honorary activities.. Hardly any
talk on my life.. Raj and I have clicked well together. Since Raj retired
from his position as president of the university few years ago, he has
been busier than ever. His expertise in administration and management, and
doing all largely as honorary service to society, has been in demand
province-wide. 'Oh, I still would remain with the Lions,
besides, now I will be involved with City Council as well.' 'City Council?
Is not that an 'elected' position?'
'Well, Raj, you look so fit and
healthy, and it may be due to your involvement in all these activities.'
'I am leaving the Chair position at Lions' next month.'
might give you a little breather, and may be, we will be able to get
together more often!'
'Don't you know? I just got elected
to City Council! So, you did not vote, I should have called you to go out
and vote for me!'
'Looks like I would fail any citizenship test right
now! I do not subscribe to Kelowna Daily Courier, and have not been able
to fit my schedule with that of local news on TV. When is the next
'It could happen within a year. Who do you think
would win next election?'
'I think 'Liberals' have a shot. And if you
run as a liberal, you might land up with some cabinet position in our
provincial government, like an education minister!'
Raj smiled. A
Reached Raj's home around 6:30 p.m.
Exchanged greetings with everybody. Krishna, Raj's better half, was giving
finishing touches to the evening meal preparations. Both Shammi and
Shashi, Raj's two sons, were present. They both are also good friends of
mine, and I have spent one-on-one time with each of them before.
Shammi offers me a beer. I gladly
accept it. 'How come you are here in this family environment? I thought you
do not prefer this type of setting lately!'
'Shammi! Your dad is my
friend too! We do exchange e-mail messages. We met at a pub for drinks
today, and then he invited me here for supper.' Krishna takes care of
Shashi's young son Amar while both Shashi and his wife Priya work during
the day. Shashi has been waiting for Priya to arrive at his dad's place
from work. Karishma, Raj's daughter, also stops by for few minutes with
her own daughter who had lost one tooth today.
The evening was
progressing well for me, and I was having fun conversation with everybody.
Shammi offers me another beer, and
I accept it gladly, again! Around 8:30 p.m., all present sit around
the dining table for supper. I ask Shammi to put back the third beer he
had brought out for me! It is a completely vegetarian meal, and I fully
enjoy it. I also made sure that I did not overeat.
Around 9:30 p.m., I
say good-bye to everyone. Raj would let me know when next week he would
stop by my place to pick up five red wine bottles.
A bit earlier, during a smoke-break
outside the house, Shammi suggested that there is an extra couch to sleep
on if I felt like not driving home. I brushed off his suggestion thinking
that I am a better driver, even if under some alcohol influence, than most
'sober' drivers! After all, I have the clean driving record, and I enjoy
the best gold-star insurance rate on my vehicle.
Cruising down the Springfield Road
while heading home, near Rutland intersection, I hit the RoadBlock around
9:40 p.m.'Have you been drinking tonight, Sir?'
I slow down almost to a halt, roll down driver's side window,
and the RCMP police officer in impeccable uniform comes to my window, and
'Yes, I had couple of beers before dinner.' I fuzzed a bit, as I did
not mention the exact amount. 'Were you at a pub?' .
'No, I was at my
friend's residence.' .
'Did you have wine with the dinner?' .
did not have any wine with the dinner.' .
'OK, would you please park
your car near the curb?' .
Sure. I parked the car. I felt calm and
serene as I was in no rush to get anywhere, and I had no idea of what to
expect next. .
'Could I have your driver's license please?'
I fumbled through my pockets, and took out
the plastic folder containing my cards. I showed my license to the officer
through one of the plastic windows. .
'Would you take the license out
The officer goes to his police car with my license to do
some checking. He returns back in couple of minutes. .
please step outside?' .
No problem. I still did not know what was
coming next, but I felt enough mind-control to answer any quizzy
questions, or even walk in a straight line. .
'This machine is used as a Breath-Analyzer. When you blow in
it, it would indicate the level of alcohol in your system.' The officer
explains me about the test, and gives me some information on what is
considered a safe-driving level. The officer installs a brand new plastic
blowpipe on the machine. .
'Take a deep breath, and blow
I obliged the machine and the officer. Few seconds passed, it
felt like a long time, and I wondered what machine was thinking or
calculating. Finally, the result was displayed in red in the tiny window
of a tiny machine. The machine displayed the word 'WARN'. .
'You are above the minimal limit, and your driver's license
would be suspended for 24 hours.' Now, this was the news to me.
Surprisingly, though, I was not angry or upset. .
'Would you please
come and hop into that police car? I need some more information from you.
Also, bring with you your car insurance and registration documents.' The
officer was now directing me to the next step in process. .
gets on the phone in his police car, and starts conveying the information
to RCMP Kelowna headoffice about my 24 hours driver's license suspension.
He spells my name on the phone, and while on the phone, verifies with me
about my birthdate and address. I answer all questions clearly and
correctly, and wonder if I could impress the officer by reciting the
English alphabet in the reverse order! .
'You can not drive your car
for 24 hours. You can pick up your license at RCMP Kelowna office after 24
hours, that is after 9:40 p.m. tomorrow. Oh, but the office would be
closed at that time, so you pick it up the following morning.' .
happens to my car?' .
'Your car will be toed away, as you can not drive
your car.' .
'How much the 'Toe' would cost
'I am not sure, it could be about $50.' .
'Could I call my
friend Raj? I would like to see if he could help me out here.' .
'Does he live in Rutland? You would need
two sober drivers coming here in two separate vehicles to save you a
'Toe'. Go ahead, use this cell phone.' .
I call Raj. I congratulate
myself that I remembered Raj's phone number. I explained the situation to
Raj, and Raj said that he would be there in few minutes. .
your friend live? I can not wait for more than 15 minutes. Call him
again.' Either the officer did not want one case to delay the proceedings,
or the RoadBlock was about to be lifted. I call Raj again, and Raj replied
that he would be there in five minutes. Meanwhile, Raj called Shashi on
Shashi's cell phone requesting him to arrive at the scene. .
officer and myself were alone for few minutes sitting in the police car
while waiting for Raj-Shashi arrival. .
'Raj name sounds familiar.' .
be you know him, he just got elected to City Council.' I pass some
information to the officer that I learned in the afternoon at the pub with
'Yes, I may have seen him in the newspapers. What do you do for
'I am a Prof. at our university.'
'Computer Science.' The officer acknowledges favorably. .
long you have been here in Kelowna?' .
'Oh, I have been here with the
university, it was a college then, since 1983.' .
'You live on Cook
Road? Is not that in Mission? I lived on LaFranco once.' The officer comes
across as a very friendly person. .
'Yes, LaFranco is a beautifully
developed street.' .
Meanwhile, the other officer comes and calms my
concerns saying that this is just a warning, a 24 hours license
suspension, that there is no financial penalty, and that it should not
affect my insurance. .
Raj and Shashi arrive on the scene.
Two sober drivers in two separate cars. Shashi is a successful investment
manager, and is driving his new Lexus. Raj signs the form as my car is
released to his custody. I give my car key to Raj. Raj would drive my car
home, I would ride with Shashi to get home, and then Raj and Shashi would
come back again to the scene to pick up Raj's car. My two friends,
father and a son, to my rescue.
Riding home with Shashi, I reminisce
couple of incidences. .
When Shashi came to Kelowna,
from Toronto, to start his new career, he had honored me to give him a
reference for his job application. Shashi had some drinking violation in
his record. When I was called to give him reference, I was positive,
philosophical, and was stressing 'Chopra' family name in Kelowna. Shashi
actually got the position on his own merits. Here, I tell Shashi, you are
rescuing the Referee!
The second incidence that came to my
mind was when Shashi and I were at a pub about a year ago, we both had a
drink or two, I was driving my vehicle, Shashi was on the passenger's
side, and we hit the RoadBlock. I told the officer that I had just one
drink at the pub, and I was let through without any further questioning. I
recall telling Shashi at that time that I was not angry that I was
stopped, and that I have high regards for Canadian RCMP, and that it was
for everybody's safety. Shashi did not argue much but it appeared that he
had some harsher views on the subject. .
And here, now riding home with Shashi
after today's encounter, I tell him that I did not lie, I was not angry,
my lofty views of RCMP and the system have not changed, and that I feel
good about myself that I practiced what I preached before.
Sure, I got off lightly this time. I
wonder if I would be this noble (I like to think I would) if I had today
harsher penalty of being taken to prison, fingerprinted, and photographed!
I hope, though, that I do not put myself
again in a position where this nobility could be tested!
P.S. Before sharing this story with everybody, I
decided to use it as a sounding board with my few close friends. One of
them told me (being concerned for my well being) that I came across as
making light of a serious (i.e. drinking and driving) situation. My friend
pointed out that I should have been more upset than I was, and that I,
while under some alcohol influence, should not have been entertaining the
thought of being a better driver than 'sober' drivers! I wrote above what
I felt as a Real-Life experience, but I do agree with my friend.