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.
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.
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.