Friday, September 24, 2004

Surviving the aftermath of a car crash

Found myself making up the numbers in a car pile-up on a busy road last evening. Escaped with minor whiplash but car will be in workshop for at least two weeks. It was a less-than-ideal way to discover that my brake efficiency was not all it should be.

If it’s true that at such moments one’s life flashes before one’s eyes, my life can be summed up by the unvaliant phrase: "Uh Oh. Brake oil?", which is all that went through my mind in the 0.75 seconds before the collision. Stands a poor second to Citizen Kane and "Rosebud", I know, but one can only be what one is.

The experience lent me valuable insights into the human condition, the frailty of life and the internal composition of my busted carburetor. But the aftermath was more traumatic. Some random thoughts that probably won’t be of much use when you decide to have a crash of your own, but will help me complete a 600-word blog:

Delhi Civil Lines
Many vehicles were involved in this crash; all were damaged and it was difficult to pin blame on anyone. Which meant there was an altogether extraordinary display of -- dare I say it -- civility, a word rarely used to describe anything that occurs on our city’s streets. We exchanged our details, nodded cordially at one another, shook hands, prepared to exit gracefully -- and then discovered that we couldn’t since our radiators were shot to hell. So we sat about looking foolish, wishing we hadn’t been so quick to say our fare-thee-wells and wondering if it was too late yet for a nasty little punching match.

Stare case
W H Davies, was it, who lamented "We have no time to stand and stare"? The doddering old fool would have felt right at home on Mathura Road yesterday. In a city where everyone is always in such a hurry, it’s remarkable how car after car slows down at the site of an accident -- with drivers and passengers alike giving themselves unsolicited whiplash as they crane their necks furiously, hoping for a glimpse of mangled remains.

Stupid questions, snappy answers
Then there are those roadside gawkers who resemble comic strip caricatures of Mad Cow Disease sufferers. Jaws dropping, eyes glazing over, they ask, "Accident hua?" No, you numbskull, it was a 900-pound bird-dropping.

Brandy is dandy but liquor is quicker
When I reached home, naturally there was the spectre of traumatised family convinced I would walk in in numerous little pieces. When they saw I was whole, still a single chip off the old block, they proceeded to whittle away at me in their own way. My grandmother produced a flask of brandy that had been hidden away in her cupboard for 10 years -- "I had kept it for a special occasion" as she alarmingly put it. Of course, after going through the sick-man ritual, I headed to my room and poured myself a stiff serving of rum.

First night
Clueless, overly-distraught family members will tell you that you might suddenly awake at 4 am in a cold sweat, delayed shock having set in; but you know what, you might actually awake at 4 am in a cold sweat. If you do, you can always write a blog.


  1. I think this is one of the best posts ever. What is that they say about adversity and art, well this surely makes the grade!

  2. Dude, I'm enjoying strolling through your archives.

    Good times, good times.


  3. Thank you, very interesting!

  4. nice blog is very ineteristing and give good a idea...

  5. I was just browsing randomly through some of the older posts in your blog and I came across this one.

    For me, until Jan 2005, I never came across anyone who had met with a road traffic accident, though I knew that statistics for road accidents were pretty high.

    Since my own nasty accident 22 months ago, almost every person I have come across seems to have a road accident tale - their own or a friend's.

    In my case, I don't recall the collision but when I regained momentary consciousness and dimly understood from the wailings and screams all around that I had met with an accident, my only thought was my mother and that I had to tell her not to worry, before she panicked. That thought stayed throughout each time I gained consciousness and blacked out again.

  6. Hi Jai,

    I suffer from a chronic 'going off the tangent' syndrome on your blog (except this time). I guess that it usually happens because this blog is more easily available than my most thumbed magazine and for atleast past year I have somehow managed to get that 'settled with your book' feeling while reading it - and I end up thinking in curves rather than straight lines, or going off-tangent to your discussion.

    It somehow reached the epitome tonight when suffering from the aftermaths of a road accident - I find a post called, 'Surviving the aftermath of a road crash' that goes, (pardon me for repeating, but screaming hear hear wasnt working), "Found myself making up the numbers in a car crash on a road last evening. Escaped with minor whiplash but car will be in workshop for about two weeks. It was a less-than-ideal way to discover that my braking efficiency was not all it should be.

    If it’s true that at such moments one’s life flashes before one’s eyes, my life can be summed up by the unvaliant phrase: oh damn why the fuck have i not pressed the break yet!" I was at a t junction where it was not my right of way... i hadnt seen the car coming because of the stupid tall hedge...

    you know you actually do wake up in cold sweat...

  7. N: heavens, I'd forgotten about this post! I hope you're not hurt and that the car is (at least) in a salvage-able state?
    Tall hedges and junctions do not mix well...

  8. Oh I never expected you to respond!

    Nobody got hurt, thank goodness.

    The car got written off. The insurance paid me nearly the entire amount I had paid for it, but I'll be paying it in premium for a while.. Apparently the car that I was driving is passenger-safe but not car-body-safe. if you want a passenger and car-body safe car, the review says, pick a Totoya Corolla (in small cars).

    In the meantime I have bought another car (again a second hand) and am driving it a little bit.

    So, all in all, small dramas mate! and thanks for the reply!

  9. The aftermath, trying to get all the pieces back together can be difficult. What a crazy world we live in, Los Angeles has the highest rate of these things happening across the country, I wonder why that is? It’s almost like everyone is going to start needing Los Angeles car accident lawyer just to get where they’re going.

  10. The stress factor after a serious accident that can be attributed to the financial and legal constraints you'll experience can be really detrimental to your overall ability to recover. Physical pain is often worsened by stress and your body is not able to heal as effectively when you are not relaxed and well rested.

    There will be many different facets of your life that you may have to work at adjusting and recreating. It can be done. Usually it can be done much more readily if you have someone watching your legal needs and your financial picture. It is much more difficult to adjust to your new physical needs if you are concerned about your electric bill.

    road accidents can ruin your life if you do not have representation. Legal advice and the ability to recoup financial aspects of your life become ever more imperative when your whole life is turned upside down by a traffic accident.