A Pakistani diplomat was recently assaulted in Delhi when his car bumped a motor cyclist. Although Islamabad sees a larger conspiracy, this gives too much credit to India’s intelligence agencies which, unlike Pakistan’s dreaded ISI, are incapable of executing such a delicate operation — getting a lowly paid agent to ride a bike, bump a diplomat’s car and then land a few effective punches.
In all probability the Indian agent, chatting on the cell phone while driving, would have tripped his bike without denting the car or got beaten instead of beating.
This is understandable. Most IB and RAW officers hone golfing skills while plotting their next prime posting in London, Geneva or Washington. The focus is not tit for tat out maneuvering of Pakistan. Unlike an Indian agent, the Delhi bike rider was no push over, thinking nothing of assaulting the Pakistani diplomat.
He is among the millions of short-fused denizen of congested roads of India’s national capital that resort to violence at the slightest provocation, imagined or real, irrespective of fault. While the ISI devotes time and military resources to train jihadi terrorists, on the roads of Delhi and adjoining suburbs of Noida or Gurgaon, individuals are naturally inclined to assault and fight.
Those with guns shoot. Like easy to detonate improvised explosive devices (IED’s), vehicles are manned by human bombs waiting to explode into paroxysm of rage.
Traffic in the city is a chaotic cauldron of buses, cars, auto rickshaws, pedestrians, cattle, motorcycles, scooters, window-knocking beggars, carts and unauthorized peddlers of fruit, vegetables and apparel. As rules are mostly flouted, space limited and not demarcated, there are bound to be infringements, enough to ignite a fight, especially with summer temperatures raging.
I have been driving in the national capital region for over two decades now. So far, I have survived. Road rage and accidents abound. Nobody cares about the injured, but everybody is inclined to quarrel, judge and combat.
A crowd accumulates at the accident site at a pace that can only be equaled by viewers assembling in front of a TV set in an office or market, during a cricket match, fixed or otherwise. The extremely rash and wild drivers include youngsters who believe bikes have wings. Many more suffer the same mentality.
These include call center and BPO cab drivers, auto rickshaws and super-rich young brats who are convinced their big and powerful SUV’s, BMW’s and Audi’s can take off from any tarmac. The results are often horrendous.
Fast moving VVIP convoys comprising big red beaconed vehicles are another hazard. This is perhaps the only instance that anything linked to slothful governments show some kind of speed, though it is inappropriate and unsafe.
My impression is women drivers have an easier time on the road. Most patriarchal Indian men mistakenly think that women are dumb.
So, a lady crashing her car is seen as an extension of her inherent stupidity. She is allowed to drive away while the crowds giggle and the injured fend for themselves. Even cops seem to espouse the same mentality when a woman driver brazenly jumps a red light, flashes a smile and accelerates away.
For male drivers, it is best to be prepared for the violence as much as the avaricious cops. Often, diplomacy does not work. Aggression has to be matched by even more aggression. There is no point being a sitting duck in a lake full of crocodiles.
It is prudent to let an IED know that you are RDX material, letting off a few Hindi or English expletive as the case may be. As I have read in the papers, the Pakistani diplomat tried to reason with the bike rider who was driving on the wrong side. Rationality hardly works on Indian roads.
Mental preparation is needed to hone the street fighting spirit given increased existences in sanitized environments of gated communities, well protected air conditioned homes, offices, malls, airports and movie halls.
I like watching Sachin Tendulkar take on Glen McGrath or Sunil Gavaskar in his prime eye West Indian pacers to ensure some aggression related hormones settles in the brain. Discovery or Animal Planet clips of belligerent lions and buffaloes perpetually locked in the fight to death also helps.
Over the recent past, the road rage situation has worsened due to exponentially rising unruly traffic, more powerful bikes, cars, crazier kids, cabs and VVIPs in even more hurry. I watch clips of gory MMA cage fighting involving use of bone crushing elbows and knees to keep the mental tension going. There is no choice.
(Check out my novel An Offbeat Story)