Thursday, May 17, 2007

Bangalore Diaries - III

More than a handful of my friends have already warned me about taking a car in Bangalore traffic. It really is worser we can imagine. But I decided to give it a try myself.

So I finally decided on my own car and barely managed to get the one I wanted. Two months after the whole deal the car was still running scratch-less. People were surprised, as to, if I am actually using the car.

One day I was getting back home after my office. I always prefer roads where there are signals to the ones where drivers decide how to maneuvre. People, I have seen, get smarter when the get into the driving seat. They believe they are the only ones who are really busy. All the rest have to wait. And that makes them do a hell lot of circus on the roads. And the people who do them are mostly autorikshaw-walas.

I got a red signal at one of the junctions. I stopped my car to the left most side of the road, nearer to the foot path so that no one will overtake me from the left. A couple of seconds later, I heard a crashing sound from the rear side of my car. An auto rikshaw had actually banged to the rear left of my car, trying to get ahead of me from the left over the foot path. I suspect him believing his auto could really fly.

I was totally shocked, angry and upset. I stopped the car putting on the warning lights, and got out to blast at the auto driver. Meanwhile he somehow managed to get ahead of me and the signal suddenly went green. He shot across the road and tried to escape.

I started running after the auto. I believe I was breaking all my speed records. On the way I happened to see a traffic police officer. I told him that a hit and run case has occured with me. He left the traffic handling to the assistant and followed me.

I managed to reach the auto. Thanks to the slow moving Bangalore traffic. You can any day over take a Porsche walking infront of it, those are some rare occations when you get to be jealous of a pedestrian. I got the auto driver get the auto to one side of the road. A couple of other drivers also reached there. The traffic police also reached the spot. I went back and got the car also to the spot. I got a huge dent in the rear bumber. It could get me atleast 1500 bucks to get it fixed.

The police and the people around were talking in compromise terms. They started discussing among themselves in Kannada. Finally policeman told me in English that if I file a case, both the vehicles would be in the station for more than a week. I said I dont mind having my car in the station for a month even, till this gets settled.

Now the tone of the policeman changed. I got to know that he was trying to get me off the hook, and I also knew what he wanted of me. I never wanted to give up. He and auto driver started speaking of financial compromise. I actually could understand Kannada, though can never speak it. So this chap was actually asking the driver how much he has and how much he can give me. He showed around 50 bucks or something. The policeman was warning the auto driver saying that this would be the cost of one coffee this guy (pointing at me) takes. I told the policeman that I can understand Kannada, but can not speak. So do it the way he thinks it is fair. He asked me howmuch I expected, as a financial compensation.

Now, ball was in my court. This auto driver looked so innocent. I thought of the life I am having and life he might be living - a few children to feed, looking just at the money he earn and a whole family dependent on him. Wouldn't taking his earning away from him be a sin, atleast with the hundred fold salary I earn compared to him? But I could not let him go also. So I decided to get around 100 bucks from him. But if I asked for that, I would end up getting almost nothing other than a thanks or a sorry. And as I had guessed, I ended up getting 100 bucks instead of the 250 I asked for.

Finally leaving, I noted down his number and let him go. The rikashaw-walas might be doing a lot of anti social activities, like over charging the traveller, not going where you want but rather where he wants to go, and a lot more like that. But just take a moment. Think of how much he might be earning. Think of how extravagant a life we are leading. How much we spend without a cause or a reason. Yes, all these points never grant them the authority to do any kind of illegal activity, that is for sure. Still....(the thought lingers)..

The final smile that he granted me, when I let him go, made me feel that I got more than what I asked for.


Dawn....सेहर said...

Hey now that's a very goodwill gesture from your end... :)! I am glad you thought from that point as usually...people try to rip off ...that human element is dying out and give some inspiration and motivation to ppl saying that ...there is still hope :)
Keep it up
Hope you got your car fixed!!!

Reshmi said...

Yes, the auto wallahs do make us think in a lot of perspectives..
Over charging and refusing to go by meter fares on one end, extremely rash driving with no regards to traffic rules at the other end..And most often, we let them off thinking why cause trouble for a man who is sustaining his family with this..well, the kind of situation when we know we are right, but hav concern for situation the other person might be in..