Our friends went visiting their daughter in California. After their daughter picked them up from the airport, they made a quick stop over at a shopping mall to pick up some groceries, leaving their suitcases in the car. When they came back to the parking lot, they were horrified to see that the car had been broken into, the windows were smashed, and the boot was empty. Their suitcases, containing clothes, valuables, shoes etc. along with two laptops, EarPods, everything they had … absolutely everything was gone!!!
The daughter who had been living in the US for some years now, called the cops. A Police officer came asap, was extremely courteous but said that there was nothing he could do right away. He said that incidents suchlike were common. There were 8-10 of them every day, in this parking lot!
The daughter flicked open her iPhone and through the ‘Find my friends/devices’ App showed the officer, the location of her EarPods and MacBook. The officer expressed his inability to enter anyone’s premises without a search warrant.
On her pleading, the officer agreed to accompany them to the place where she could ‘virtually see’ her MacBook and EarPods. The officer repeated his helplessness in helping her sans the search warrant. He said that she could try ringing the doorbell. If anyone opened the door and agreed to give the stuff back, it would be her good luck. She asked him, what good was his being there? He said, ‘If they assault you or pull out a gun in our presence we can take action. The laws here are such.’
They returned tired, dejected, helpless and utterly numbed by the experience.
Last week, my son went to Delhi by the Shatabdi train. After having de-boarded and taken a cab, he suddenly realised that his iPad was missing. A quick mental re-cap made him realise that he had left it in the seat pocket of the train. He asked the cabbie to zip back to the railway station. A quick look at the ‘Find my friends’ App showed him that his iPad was not on the train-track but somewhere in the adjoining Paharganj area. He ran to the Police kiosk at the station, introduced himself and solicited help. The officer agreed to send his Constable to accompany my son, to the location of the iPad. In the narrow by-lanes of Paharganj, they walked till they reached a dilapidated triple storey building. My son clicked on his iPhone’s location-beeper, but through closed doors and multiple floors he couldn’t hear it beep. It was close by, but exactly where?
Through the Police Constable, he spoke to a senior officer and told him all. The officer deputed someone to find out who lived at that location and in an hour, the iPad was restored to its rightful owner.
This is India today! The greener pastures are on this side of the fence now! The tables have been turned!
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-This piece has been published in The Tribune as the Middle piece on the Opinion page on 20.05.2023. Here is the link to it there: https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/musings/lost-and-found-right-here-in-india-509374