“Policing is not a very difficult job in Madras. Here, the criminals are not so intelligent or daring as the knaves in London”, bragged the British police commissioner. It was before 1947 and India was still under the British rule. His subordinate, an Indian was not convinced. “Sir, there are many criminals operating here in Madras who are not only cunning and resourceful, they are also capable of vanishing from the scene of crime without leaving behind any trace of their involvement”. “Is it so? I challenge you to prove it”, said the commissioner in a mocking tone.
The Indian Police officer went in search of a notorious pickpocket. After a weary search, he found him in a toddy shop in the outskirts of Madras. (Please note: i. the present name of Madras is Chennai, ii. toddy shop is the equivalent of the beer taverns in London) When the officer suggested that he come along with him to prove his prowess, the man was terrified at first. When the officer assured him that no harm was meant, the man agreed to accompany the officer. The Commissioner was aghast to see an old and feeble-looking man with a rag wrapped around him. He was also quite displeased when the man slightly brushed against him on being introduced. “Why did you bring this wretched man here? Is he a beggar or a lunatic?”, shouted the commissioner. In the mean time, the old man winked at the Indian officer. “Sir, is anything missing from you?”, asked the Indian officer. “Oh dear, my wallet is missing”, exclaimed the commissioner. Looking at the old man, the Indian officer ordered,”Give the wallet to the commissioner”. The pickpocket meekly handed over the wallet to the Englishman. The commissioner sheepishly collected his property from the old and infirm criminal.