11 November 2008

Huffing and puffing away!

Today, I finally read the law that was passed banning smoking in public places. Its labeled glamorously as THE CIGARETTES AND OTHER TOBACCO PRODUCTS (PROHIBITION OF ADVERTISEMENT AND REGULATION OF TRADE AND COMMERCE, PRODUCTION, SUPPLY AND DISTRIBUTION) 2003 and filed under Section 31 (of the constitution I assume!). You can read a copy of it here. Be warned it's 4 pages and the first two are in Hindi. I spent the better part of an hour deciphering the language only to discover that the English translation starts on page 3!
The basic point is that you can't smoke in public place. This I had read in the newspaper and was vigorously enforcing when two incidents occurred. The first happened a few weeks ago at a restaurant when the chumps next to our table were smoking in an el fresco milieu. I popped over and in my politest desi english asked them to put it out as ahem, it's against the law. The bohemian with at least 20 earrings in one ear merely cocked her head and said, "Excuse me?" Not to be undone by such frivolous contempt I dropped the desi accent and said in my best clipped voice, " Madam, smoking is banned here." To which our siren replied that it was the smoking section of the restaurant. Well, I bought the story, tucked my tail under, apologized and sauntered off. Only when I got home did mummy dearest inform me that Ms. Chimney Stack was wrong and I should have boldly approached the manager. And if I had actually read the bill at that point I would have known to go to the top dog instead of wasting my time on the offensee.
The second incident was at the local shop around the corner with whom I have been having an ongoing battle to install a dustbin for all the litter his motley consumers spread around. Now this pal is a Mallu and his kannada is only for commercial purposes so communicating words like 'smoking' 'illegal' in my broken kannada is quite a theatrical event. Plus I honestly think he has no compunctions in trying to understand me better as I rarely speak outside the bread-eggs exchange if not to complain. Consequently my ire is now reserved for all the jobless youth who stand right outside his store and puff away. These youth just give me the stink eye and walk away 5 ft to continue smoking. Today, I have learnt that he's actually required to plant a sign outside asking people not to smoke there. So tomorrow I am going to assail him about the sign. 50 bucks says he'll come up with a way to hide the sign; probably place a hanging basket of chips right in front of it.
The last thing I want to talk about in this area is about fining. How does one get hold of a person who can issue the fine? In both the instances I reported, whom am I suppose to complain to, in case the person in charge doesn't listen to me - I mean one can hardly summon the police for such things. I guess I better go around my colony looking for an Inspector of Income tax ...

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