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.”