There will invariably come a time in every traveler’s journey when they will turn around to find themselves corralled by the law. Bad Mike tells you how to escape the clutches of the police while remaining financially intact.
BAD TRIPPING: Wayward Travel Advice for the Anxious and Burdened
Disjointed. How to Bribe a Cop.
Dear Bad Mike,
I got busted for smoking a joint by the police in Gokarna, India. They told me that simple possession is punishable by up to ten years in prison and that the new government is cracking down and wants to make an example of foreigners.
The police officer also told me that I would probably not survive in an Indian prison but that he would overlook the offence if I paid him 30,000 Rupees ($480.00).
He took me to an ATM where I withdrew the money and paid him. My friends tell me that I paid way too much. How do you negotiate a bribe with a police officer when you are scared shitless?
Nothing will harsh a mellow faster than a flash of tin before your bleary, sanguine eyes. Negotiating a bribe when you are stoned and scared is an art that requires a practiced skill set and balls of stainless steel.
Before continuing, let me be clear that I am not condoning the habit of savoring Mommie Earth’s bounties of ethereal pleasures. No sirree! That said, however, allow me to elucidate a safe guide for the novice chillum fiend abroad.
Procuring Your Investment
Never, ever buy your dope from that depraved New Delhi tuk tuk driver who just overcharged you three times the fair fare for delivering you to his brother’s grim little hotel. Very likely you will be visited by the local constabulary and busted for possession before you have even had a chance to rinse out your undies. That decrepit tuk tuk driver will have done well by you: i.e, an outrageous fare, an overpriced bag of lousy weed, a 30% commission for your dank and evil hotel room, and a share of the cop’s bribe you are now on the hook for. If, like me, you are compelled to exact revenge you will find your deceitful tuk tuk driver passed out on a nearby sidewalk with a post-brothel smile cracked across his debauched face. Bring a club.
Rajasthan is a good place to procure the fruits of a filthy habit. Often that nice young hotel manager operates a candy store and he will be your best and safest bet. He has already an investment in you, your hotel bill, and any duplicitous funny business will spill into his face too.
There are bubbles where foreigners overwhelmed by the stresses of budget travel in India flee to. Goa, Hampi, and Gokarna are arguably the favorites. Let us focus on Gokarna, the locale of your vaporous indiscretion.
Gokarna is a holy little town south of the Russian-charter-tour and frat boy infested plague of Goa. The action in Gokarna takes place a pleasant twenty minutes stroll outside of town to a string of four beaches — Kudle, Om, Half-Moon, and the notorious Paradise — where ersatz, mostly European, hippies frolic merrily, swapping body fluids and ingesting whatever cosmic molecules that are on the menu that day.
Needless to say, Gokarna is a happy hunting ground for Rupee hungry cops. The enforcement of the law is a business where every depravity commands a market price. A posting to the Gokarna precinct will cost a cop up to a cool Lakh, that’s one hundred thousand, of Rupees for the high season. Easy payment plans are available. That investment must be recovered as quickly as possible so as to maximize profit. So you see, Shitless, that going to jail on account of that fat skiff smoking betwixt your bejewelled fingers is a very low probability.
Opus Coppis Methodicus
A cop, like a love starved shepherd boy on a starry, starry night atwinkle with romantic possibilities, always approaches his quarry from behind.
That first moment of your engagement with a cop is always fraught with anxiety. He has all of the power of the State and a truncheon with which to beat you senseless. You have only a limp and soggy rolled twig of contraband that has damned you. Refrain from taking that final drag. With a wan and sheepish hint of a smile, snuff out the glowing ember of your sin. Saying ‘I’m sorry’ will prove a cooling salve to ease the coming sting to your wallet.
An eternal awful silence will ensue. You are being sized up to measure your courage and bank account. Now comes the regaling of the enormity of your crime and further accusations of your depraved indifference to the culture and morals of India. The horrors of prison doubtlessly await you — the next decade of your miserable and worthless little life will be spent being raped and spooned by monstrous beasts with hairy backsides in a filthy, vermin ridden cage.
Most reprobates crumble immediately and will pay whatever outrageous fee is initially demanded. But first, consider a little math:
The high season is from October to March, meaning that that nice policeman has 180 days to recoup his investment plus living expenses. His salary, a sore pittance, is moot for our calculation. So figure he needs to reap a minimum of 2,000 Rupees a day to break even. Dragging a wretch, such as yourself, to the station and spending hours filling out forms and detailing your atrocity is not in his fiduciary interest. There is ample room to bargain.
However, and this is very very important: Never lose your cool and toss a hissy fit. Cop an attitude and you will be marched to the precinct and unceremoniously deposited into a back room where, out of sight of friendly witnesses, you will be pummeled. There will be no more negotiating, the fee may even be outrageously inflated on account of your insolent attitude.
All in all, depending on the circumstances and innumerable variants, a reasonable bribe is 1,300 Rupees for a joint. My negotiating strategy is to initiate the proceedings by falling to the ground and slurping the polish off of his shiny boots while keening on the never ending misery of my abject poverty. Strive to exact an ample measure of sympathy and humbly offer a low ball figure of 500 Rupees. From there it is an anxious dance until a settlement is reached. Better still, be discrete where you toke, watch your back, and snuff your stuff at the merest whisper of the law.
Got a problem? Ask Bad Mike:
badmike [at] vagabondjourney.com
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