Feb 15, 2006


You've seen the Valentine's Day post. Here's a detailed version of the first fist fight. Quick recap: My autorickshaw swerves to avoid raised manhole. Hits the wrist of a chappie walking almost squarely in the middle of the road. Blows are exchanged.

We heard the flesh-metal thwack before we realised what was happening and seconds later, the chap the auto had hit was running alongside, already throwing wild blows at the driver. The chap then did the incredible, chucking his wallet for me to catch and pulling the auto keys out, effectively ending any fleeting opportunity for the driver to flee the scene.

Moments later, he'd managed to yank the driver out and was hurling abuse, blows, jabs and slaps at a furious pace. The auto driver, for his part, removed his hands free kit (!) and then, ran to a public call booth and immediately engaged himself in making a call.

I calmed the hurting chap down and he did. As he went along his way (still walking in the middle of the road), the auto driver called from the phone booth, 'And where do you think you're going? I haven't finished with you...' Unbelievable.

Is there a point to this? Yes there is. Most of the time, pedestrians in India walk with a confidence that is built on shaky, usually injurious foundations. And then they get all up in arms about minor crashes. When really, they should be thankful they survived. In this case, the walker was in the middle of the road, and it wasn't the auto driver's fault.

In most cases, though, the auto driver will swerve to avoid something in road, without actually checking his situation in the mirror and in traffic. I've had too many close calls in traffic not to know this. My strategy now is to head straight for the worst of the road, the one place they won't swerve into.

I think auto drivers should be taught to drive. Or thrashed.
That's one down and a few million to go, then.

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