When we ride buses, we are pretty much the biggest animals in the jungle. We want to drive wild, knock into cars and other buses, play bumper cars. Why? Because we can, We are the brontosaurs who T-Rex cant mess with. We paid 10 bucks for the tickets to watch all this fun.
On the other hand, folks driving cars are nervous wrecks, I bought a spanking new set of wheels some months back and driving it around Delhi roads is feel like taking a lamb on a walk,in the Serengeti, surrounded by hungry lions. They’ll will eat it and rip you up ,for bonus points, before you know it. I should know, I have a scar on my car (that rhymed!) Who left it, I don’t know? What am I going to do about it, other than wallow in self pity? I don’t know. You see someone had a coming together with my beauty while I was away, there is little to do but wait till my first service when I get her all fixed up and looking like new. Then I will get back to being a nervous wreck, trying to avoid trucks, buses, other mad car drivers, auto rickshaws and pedestrians with one arm stretched ahead of them.
Yes, every guy on two feet in Delhi is armed with the force, the force to make cars stop with their bare hands. Its talk to the hand with a twist, all you see in your car is this guy talking on the phone who has decided it’s time for him to cross the road, the coming wave of cars be damned. He has found adequate room to step on the road so this is going to be it. Since multi-tasking is our forte, he uses one hand to talk on the phone, you, miserable car driver, are not worthy of his attention hence he keeps his gaze fixed upon the other side of the road, where he wants to be. It could also be the chick trying to get an auto wallah dude to stop but all said and done you speeding towards him get zilch, nothing, nada! However his other free hand is stretched towards you, talk to the hand if you want to. This free bird is going to cross the road. Sudden braking will cause a pile up behind you? Aww, suck it up, it’s your problem!
“When your car hits a pedestrian, speed kills. At 40 mph, the person almost always dies. At 25, they might live” Moral of the story? : Never drive below 40.
Pedestrians in Delhi are like Pavlov’s dogs, you spot them standing by the side of the road, having second thoughts about their impending suicide mission to the other side, and your first impulse is to warn them to not commit hara-kiri, at least to let you pass by before they do. You accomplish this by honking, as madly as you can, but to their conditioned ears this is the call to go. I know now from personal experience that as soon as you honk to demand your right of passage, somewhere inside the brain of the conditioned pedestrian a voice says “Run, motherfucker, run” and he runs.
Indians would conquer all athletic events if only the starting gun was replaced by an automobile’s loud horn. Usain Bolt, kiss our brown asses!
The other challenges facing us on the daily drive to work are the auto rickshaws. If there was ever an award for steely resolve it would be awarded to the auto-rick driver. These things are driven by puny 100 odd cc engines and can carry 3 passengers excluding the driver; these aren’t exactly the fastest things on the road. Yet, the auto driver drives his three wheel “air conditioned” contraption at a constant speed of 35 kmph , bang in the middle of the frikking road! What’s worse? Auto drivers are deaf and have no peripheral vision, honking will not help, you will never get safe passage and the auto driver will test your reflexes by swerving into your lane at regular intervals.
What could be worse? These three wheeled pests drive in formation, blocking all traffic behind them and forming a rolling speed barrier of sorts. Since they are all deaf and semi blind, no amount of honking, yelling or pleading would do.
You just have to be a bus. You wish you were in one.