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A view of the Brahmaputra river in Guwahati, Assam
A view of the Brahmaputra river in Guwahati, Assam|Saif Khan
ASSAM

Ice cream by Brahmaputra: When moral police give bitter aftertaste

For this author, it was quite an experience to be going to the riverside in Guwahati to unwind with a visiting sister, only to be threatened of the ‘thana’ by zealous cops

Karma Paljor

Guwahati: They say ‘ice cream solves everything’, but not in this case. Our after-dinner drive for butterscotch and the perfect point to view the mighty Brahmaputra in Guwahati turned into a little adventure. There is something about butterscotch, everyone wants one.

My sister from Sikkim, who is a successful entrepreneur, dropped in after enlightening and inspiring women in Shillong at a conference. After catching up over dinner, we decided to indulge in an ice cream. Baskin Robbins at Uzan Bazar is perfectly placed.

Disappointment hit us as they had run out of butterscotch. We settled for some caramel and headed up the hill on the upper stand road, from where you get the most beautiful view of the mighty Brahmaputra.

Our ice cream had barely melted when the ever-vigilant Assam Police made their entry in two cars led by Inspector X (keeping his identity secret) and his young energetic deputies. A young constable (hereon known as 'Cute Diminutive constable) immediately got to business - sprang really close to us sniffing and searching (don’t know what he was looking for). I guess all he could smell was caramel ice cream.

Inspector X then thundered, “Who are you?” After 18 years in Delhi, I resisted using, ‘tu jaanta nahi main kaun hoon’ (you don't know who I am). Inside, I am thinking, I am 'Bro' (just like own brother) with several ministers, chief ministers and IPS officers in tow; but I meekly handed over my laminated Sikkim RTO-issued driving licence. I might also add that I have been complemented by some Delhi Police constables (best in the world) for a striking resemblance to a certain IPS officer from Northeast doing some exemplary work.

I have never flashed my press card except on duty or emergency. I don’t carry one, especially after it failed to scare a 'dhobi' who lost my jeans when I was a rookie.

"I am from Sikkim," I said, expecting to evoke love for brethren of the tiny beautiful, organic Himalayan state, younger brother to Assam and her six sisters. The magical keyword did not work on Inspector X who must have been schooled differently about organic. The police claimed that we were in a restricted area and would be taken to the 'thana'.

At this point, the Cute Diminutive Constable already searched our car for ‘wines’ only to find smelly gym shoes and 'prasad' from Kamakhya Temple, visited earlier as part of the mandatory sightseeing and pilgrimage tour.

After finishing his ‘duty’ he settled himself in the back seat making conversation with my sister, who was super cool, giggling through my ordeal. He was also to direct us to the dreaded 'thana'.

The thought of spending time at the 'thana' and the fact that my sister had an early morning flight made me finally opt for ‘phone a friend’ (a very powerful Bro). In the cross talk, I overheard something that said there was a complaint from Raj Bhawan. Someone powerful up there must have been observing us enjoying caramel ice cream. A craving does make you dial 100 sometimes. Next time I am carrying extra for Raj Bhawan.

Call made, all cool? No! A big ego had been punctured – so Inspector X continued to babble. My replies to him elicited just one response, “Just you keep it”, synonym for, I am guessing, "shut up".

In the end, he pointed to a couple with kids (I don’t know if they had ice cream) sitting at the same spot and seemed to imply that was acceptable. So next time I want to enjoy ice cream watching the mighty Bramhaputra as he flows in the night, I must bring along some children.

PS: I forgot to take a selfie with them.

Although the piece has been written in jest, this is a disturbing trend. Not everybody has access to ‘phone a friend’.