Oye Lucky Lucky Oye that Abhay Deol starer film was one of my all-time favourite films. Not anymore for I met a Lucky in my real life.
It happened in broad day light at the Hauz Khas – IIT gate traffic signal, opposite to Essex Farm, amidst a heavy Monday evening traffic and right under the nose of 4 traffic cops posted at the signal.
I was on my way back to my residence in Dwarka after finishing a meeting at the Adchini area. If you know the map of that area you’d know that in order to go to Dwarka or Airport from Adchini which is on your left you have to drive till the signal opposite to Mother’s International School and take a U-turn so that landmarks like Essex Farm, Indian Oil petrol pump or Turcoise Cottage are now on your right. Straight ahead is Hauz Khas and on your left is the IIT gate, you take a free left turn for Dwarka / Airport from this point. Free left turn only if the traffic allows, sometimes it doesn’t.
So there I was, a few meters away from the point where I would move my steering wheel towards the left for my ‘free left turn’, graduate the gear from 2nd to 5th and hit the outer ring road at 60 kmph, that was the moment when I met him.
Earlier, I had taken the mentioned U-turn, and as I was driving slowly due to extremely heavy traffic I noticed a lean short boy around 16 with a plastic carry bag in hand, walking on the foot path looking straight at me. I felt strange, “Never seen a woman drive? New in Delhi?” I thought and sped up. Few meters ahead the traffic had come to a standstill denying me my ‘free left turn.’ After about ten minutes the jam opened, I shifted gears started moving when I saw a man, in his 20s around 5’7 dark complexion curly hair shabby clothes typical of the traffic signal vendors, coming towards my car from the signal side. I assumed he was selling something, though he was empty handed which I didn’t notice until he came close to my window.
And then a thud! I felt something went under my front right tyre and the man held my window with both his hands and yelled, “kya kiya aap ne mere pair pe gaadi chala di (What did you do, you drove the vehicle on my feet”
Both my front windows were rolled down. On my side it was fully down, on the left it was half way. I was saving fuel and enjoying the evening breeze by not switching on the AC. Ironic it was.
I was startled. I opened my mouth to yell back, “khud to sadak ke beech mein chal rahe ho, dikhta nahi hai traffic khul gayi hai”
But I barely uttered the full sentence and decided to drive away when he held the window again and fumbled something. I didn’t follow what he said but opened my mouth again to yell back, but before I could say anything the man suddenly started walking away.
I felt extremely strange that he gave up so easily. Anyway, I looked to the front to be on my way. Suddenly I noticed the central lock of my car was open. I had never switched off the ignition so all doors should be locked, but they weren’t.
And that’s when I realized my bag which was sitting on the front seat was gone. It was a jute bag from CSE which had my Dell laptop worth 40k, my wallet containing my Driving License, vehicle registration certificate, PAN card, credit cards, debit cards, Delhi Metro card, CGHS card, Titan watches warranty card etc and Rs. 1000+ in cash.
I was robbed.
In this life, I’d never forget what I felt at that moment and would never be able to fully explain. In a lightening speed I connected the dots. The frame in my mind was split in two and replayed what just happened from two different camera footages. One camera was on me from the point I took the U-turn and the other was on the young boy on the footpath looking at me my car’s open windows.
I recalled that the first guy had actually walked on the foot path along my car briefly and then diagonally crossed the road keeping close to my car and then went ahead. Minutes later, this other man came from the same direction where the previous had gone. While the second guy kept me busy with the fake accident the first guy picked my bag. The second guy had opened the car’s central locking when he kept his hands on my window.
As I try to recall the incident today, I remember frantically standing in the middle of a crazy Monday evening Delhi traffic with every single person honking and swearing at me. For a minute there I wanted to run after the men but they had disappeared into thin air. Then I pulled over and dialed 100. Next, I approached the four traffic cops at the spot and told them what happened.
They all had mixed feelings. They looked blankly at me, UN-interested, confused, and annoyed with ‘not again, not my area of operation’ kind of expressions. It took 45 minutes for the cops to arrive at the spot. In between they called me thrice to understand my exact location. They just couldn’t understand such unknown places in Delhi like IIT gate, Hauz Khas, Adchini etc. “Kaha khare ho mam samajh mein nahi aa raha hai” was what I was told repeatedly. And they were coming from Mehrauli police station.
Finally they arrived. Meanwhile dad, one of dad’s colleague, my cousin, and his friends all arrived. Nothing and nobody helped. What was gone was gone. My only reward was an F.I.R – the must have document for issuance of duplicate license, RC etc. I must admit though that the cops cooperated in detailing the FIR, they reminded me to include everything gone missing, failing which they won’t issue duplicates.
“You know this happened to me once, my sister, my cousin, my friend once” – Stories of Delhi’s Thak Thak Gang and such other thugs using ‘attention diversion’ techniques to rob people started coming out at the Mehrauli police station as I went about the procedures. One cop said his own son was robbed on Noida toll bridge. Others spoke about how they knock on your car windows and ask, “Is that your money on the ground” to divert you.
Most of the Thak Thak Gang members are juveniles and are thoroughly trained in the technique. Indeed they perform their task with amazing perfection and swiftness.
All said and done, I must admit, I am not sure whether to lament my loss or to applaud their thief-ly talents.