Friday, October 10, 2008

God sends a car to punish your pampered car

For me, this week started with a bang. On a lazy, sultry Sunday afternoon, I was driving to Connaught Place to buy gifts for a friend who was celebrating her birthday that night. Not too many vehicles on the road, no metro madness, one could feel the laziness hanging in Delhi's busiest area. As I crossed the Super Bazaar subway on the Connaught Circus circular, the traffic got lazier as I could see cars slowing down to a halt ahead of me. The stereo was humming a lilting, slow-paced ghazal. I was close to stopping my car when my car was kicked by an unknown force. I don't know what speed the guy behind me was going at but the impact said it all and I quote: “Whoooooa!” The seatbelt stopped me from being thrown off the windshield. My car had hit the car in front of me which had hit the car in its front. It was a chain reaction triggered by a lazy radio taxi driver. I looked at my rear bumper’s mangled mass which was in better shape than the front bumper of the car that caused it all. My front bumper was pretty much off the chassis hanging by a couple of electrical wires.
In a normal Delhi situation, especially on a hot day, the owner(s) of the victim car(s) beat to pulp the driver of the accused car and equal the damage by physically crushing the accused (car). But then the damage the taxi had suffered looked like even stevens. The beating of the driver ritual however could not start not because the victim no. 1, your’s truly, is not a violent person but because the driver held on to my feet and would not allow me to call the police or the taxi company. “I am a poor man. I have already been hit because I have to get the car repaired from my own money. I have just 300 rupees to give you if you so desire. I have never been careless with driving in the three years of service. I will lose my job if you complain. Beat me if you want to,” he just did not stop pleading. It’s impossible to punish a willing receptor of punishment. I called the radio taxi number displayed on the taxi’s body and wanted to know who would compensate me for the damage. The man on the other end said: the driver, according to company policy.
I called up a senior executive who parroted the junior executive’s line: “the driver would pay, make him pay”. The other drivers were not really excited about the boring turn the accident took. Seeing no action in the offing, they left cursing the taxi driver, sympathising with me and then cursing their luck, the other victims left. Then the taxi driver and I stood in the sun. I told him to buzz off. He didn’t want to let me go unless I had forgiven him. In other words: “a promise that I would not press charges.” I made no promises but did tell him he was forgiven. He immediately got down to work and fixed the front bumper with a lot of effort. “The rear one will have to be replaced, sir,” he informed me. His taxi needed towing away. I could drive mine to the gift store. The small signboard was telling: SUNDAY CLOSED.

Moral of the story: Once your car decides to go to the bodyshop, you will drive to a shop which will be closed because it's a Sunday. But not before another car strikes it on an nearly empty road.

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