From composed to cross: How India’s road rage capital changed me
A typical Delhiite's day behind the wheel according to DNA’s
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?