Saturday, June 11, 2005

I'm on the phone, you save our lives

One of the cardinal rules for anyone who’s just learnt how to drive and is venturing forth onto Delhi’s killer roads is: “Drive not just for yourself but for everyone else. Work with the assumption that everyone else on the road is a moron.”

It’s a sensible rule, though it can seem bitterly unfair to those of us who consider ourselves prudent drivers and believe the earth won’t stop spinning if everyone stays in their lanes for 10 minutes at a stretch. But something really bizarre happened today. The car on my left swerved suddenly and dangerously towards mine, and it was only by braking super-fast that I was able to avoid a paint-scraping incident, or worse. This wasn’t the bizarre part, it’s the kind of thing that happens several times each day. But as I pulled up next to the guy a little way further (the lights had turned red) I noticed he had been chatting on his cellphone. Catching my eye, he made a placatory gesture, pointed at his phone by way of explanation and mouthed “Sorry, I was busy talking.” Seemed a decent sort.

I rolled the window down and shouted across: “Ya, but you shouldn’t have been, right?”

His reply: “I know, but come on, you could see I was distracted, so it was your responsibility to make sure nothing happened.”

This wasn’t said sarcastically, he was being sincere. He completely believed in the logic of what he was saying: I was busy being a bad driver so naturally it was up to you to save both of us. Simple. Clearly there are some drivers on the roads who were taught the dictum “Break as many rules as you want to, just assume everyone else is very sensible.”


  1. When people ask me if I've seen the "phenomenal, breathtaking" car chase scene in the Matrix Reloaded, I ask them if they've ever seen traffic in New Delhi.
    Apparently the Wachowski brothers (or is it sisters now since one of them wants to be a woman and the other is a BDSM fetishist) have never seen traffic in new delhi otherwise they would've just chosen to film there and replace auto rickshaws and cows in the middle of the street with american vehicles.
    If an "agent" stops you in New Delhi, you merely hand over 100 rupees fine and blast off. (Is the fine still 100 Rs.?)

  2. Wow. This is weird. Just now after reading this post on the Jabberwock blog I discovered my lost copy of the Entire Works of Lewis Caroll that I discovered on a recent trip back home to Delhi. The books so old and musty and yellow and water-damaged but still readable. I think I'll read Through The looking glass again.
    Which alice book do you think is the better one?

  3. Good heavens, how do you lose a book that size?

    Which Alice book is better: um, being a jabberwock my loyalties are towards Looking Glass. But I think the first one still has a charm (and equally, an ability to shock after all these years) that sets it apart.

  4. Do you have a red maruti? Then, I guess that "crazy" driver would be me. You must've been very busy cursing to not notice the cow just in front of my car, that caused me to "swerve dangerously and suddenly". Next time observe more and ruminate less on the road!


  5. Anonymous: 'ruminate'? as in, chew cud? isn't that what the cow should have been doing? As Joey would say, it's a moo point.