From com­posed to cross: How In­dia’s road rage cap­i­tal changed me

A typ­i­cal Del­hi­ite's day be­hind the wheel ac­cord­ing to DNA’s

DNA Sunday (Mumbai) - - THE STORY -

Re­cently, I had gone home for a short Di­wali break. Two days af­ter Di­wali, I got into an ac­ci­dent. The driver of the other car had col­lided his car into mine. He was driv­ing on the wrong side. Un­doubt­edly, I was fu­ri­ous. When I con­fronted him, he started hurl­ing abuses at me. An old man, driver's pas­sen­ger, joined him as well. I got even more fu­ri­ous. How­ever, I did not want to in­dulge in a sense­less ar­gu­ment and so I sim­ply walked up to the driver, took his car keys, and asked him to com­pen­sate for my car's dam­age. What en­sued was sim­ply ridicu­lous. He kept cussing, so did the el­derly man, called me names, dragged my fam­ily too and then fi­nally the driver said, "Madam, mai ya­han ka nahi hun. Ya­han ke rules nahi pata mu­jhe. Batameezi mat karo mere saath (Madam, I'm not from here. I don't know the rules of this area. Don't mis­be­have with me)" I had no an­swer. I was en­raged. I wanted to hit him, in­stead, I let them go. I did not call the po­lice, I could have, but I did not. It was noth­ing very se­ri­ous. My car was in­sured and dam­ages were min­i­mal. But that was just me.

Road rage in Delhi is ram­pant. Ac­cord­ing to the gov­ern­ment's data, one per­son falls vic­tim to road rage ev­ery 5 days in the city. Over the past three and a half years, as many as 244 road rage cases have been re­ported. In 2017, three peo­ple were killed, in 2016, two lost their lives and in 2015, four peo­ple died.

Not ev­ery­one has my re­straint. This re­straint, per­haps, has come to me be­cause I haven't been liv­ing in Delhi for the past 3 years. Ev­ery time I am be­hind a wheel, I be­come some­one else. Years of sheer anger and frus­tra­tion on Delhi roads have changed me. I had taken af­ter my for­mer cop-fa­ther. I was calm and un­af­fected while driv­ing, just like he is. Yet, 9 years of driv­ing had made me a dif­fer­ent per­son. When I drive, I am an­gry. Not be­cause I have to be, but be­cause I need to be. Be­cause ev­ery­one else is an­gry, be­cause I am re­spon­si­ble for the life of my pas­sen­gers and be­cause I think that's how I may be able to sur­vive.

I have ex­pe­ri­enced road rage since the time I started driv­ing. It has been di­rected at me by an au­towal­lah, a rick­shawwal­lah, pub­lic trans­port driv­ers, mo­torists et al. I have dealt with the worst of the lot. And al­though I have tried to keep my fa­ther's calm­ness with me, and re­mem­ber his com­po­sure dur­ing a road rage in­ci­dent, I have failed.

Al­most a decade of road rage has made me a dif­fer­ent per­son, which is what I re­alised dur­ing the in­ci­dent I just spoke of. It changed the way I per­ceived things, not just while I was driv­ing but, also in my per­sonal life. I had be­come im­pa­tient and rude. I re­mem­ber be­ing a calm per­son but driv­ing in Delhi and ex­pe­ri­enc­ing stress ev­ery sin­gle day gets high-strung some­times. I am not like that and I don't like what Delhi road rage has done to me but that I have be­gun to re­alise the change and have de­cided to calm my­self down much more. I think this is what ev­ery ve­hi­cle driver in In­dia should do.

Fi­nally, it is only a ve­hi­cle and just a scratch or a bump. Why let abuse and as­sault come in the way of a beau­ti­ful day and life?

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