I went to the Golra Railway Station with a friend to try and get a few good photographs. We had parked the car next to the platform. There were no signboards for parking and no security personnel. After about fifteen minutes of mostly useless photography, a plainclothes policeman reluctantly came up saying their sahib was calling us because we had driven our car right onto the platform. There was a stern-faced man on the other side of the track. That was also the end of the photo shoot. I packed my camera and went up to him. He spoke angrily about the BIG violation and threateningly told us to come along to the police chowki so that we may know how bad things were. Unlike me, he was definitely in a very bad mood. We went. It was a Kafkaesque experience to be suddenly transported away from the sounds of the birds in the bodhi trees and the bell I childishly knelled to know how it sounded (very rich and loud, by the way). I think he noticed the vulnerability in my playing at life. Anyway, I overcame my aesthetic abandon and in the middle of a sentence about the security problems of the country, distastefully mentioned a connection in the police department. Things changed. He noted my name and address, and let us go after having made us get a ticket for the museum that was closed already. It was getting dark but he offered to show us a few more goodies worth shooting. The crucial lighting was gone, and his special interest in my photography notwithstanding, I said we would come back again. He said we should park the car next to the police post next time so that it remains safe, etc. I said, I love you too.
I’m not implying that all policemen are exploitative. If nothing else, that would go against my personal hope of making meaningful distinctions. I just think that some of them have a greater presence than others in the lives of unsuspecting civilians. As Anu Malik unforgettably said in a television interview in the 90’s, “You can love me, you can hate me, but you can never ignore me.” The reference is quite out of place, aside from its sure amusement, because Anu Malik is a creatively involved citizen of the world.
Coming back to the bell, it was made by the O.S. Bell Co., Hillsboro, Ohio, USA. The company closed down in the 50’s.