a fable worth posting....

Posted by Tandarin Nike Sunday, April 11, 2010 9:12 AM
This one is dedicated to my good friend Uday with whom I spend most of my teenage in Mumbai. Some of the hysterics Uday would conjure up is something to remember for life…….. Here’s one which just came to my mind....

“Stop! Stop! Stop the bloody rickshaw.”

“Why? What’s wrong Sir?”

“I’ll tell you what’s wrong. Park it. Park it he would say!!”

It could have been five thirty in the morning, could have been the noon or late into the night. But it was the same story always with many a twist and turns.

“See this?” he would say. Showing off a stick he would carry on such occasions.

“Did you have an accident Sir?”

“No. I was born with a walking stick. And one hundred and six screws inside my body. A metal rod is in my thigh and one in my spine.”

“I am sorry Sir. I will drive carefully now onwards.”

“You want me to strip and show the scars on my body? Have the guts to see?”

(Sometimes he would open a few buttons or take off his belt hook. Usually it would suffice as no one dared to ask him to show anything after hearing his miserable tone)

“No Sir. I promise I will drive safely. Come on Sir. Let’s go”

It’s during the ride that he would tell the driver the rest of his story (his story telling abilities could get him an Oscar).

It would go something like this..

"It happened one night. 4 years back. It was a moonless night in Poona. I was newly married then (Uday and myself were then in our teens). My wife was expecting our first baby. I had a good job that paid well. I was going home in an auto rickshaw. The driver was a young man just like you. He kept speeding and I kept telling him to slow down. He scoffed at me and said I am in full control. But he was wrong. He did not see a garbage dumper truck coming from the opposite direction. The auto was crushed like a cucumber salad. It flew into a dark pit nearby. The truck sped away. No body had seen the accident. Vehicles passing on the road after us had no clue that in the pit lay two young crushed men inside a crushed auto rickshaw. My spine had cracked. My leg was in six pieces. There were splinters and blood all over. I had lost my voice to shout. I was slowly sinking.”

“What happened to the auto driver?”

“He died in my arms. I fed him water from a bottle. He was crying as he was dying. Weeping bitterly that he had little children back home. I don’t know when I passed off holding his dead head. I thought I had died too. Woke up in a hospital. Had no insurance. Lost my job. The baby arrived. We were so broke, that my wife had to even sell off all her wedding jewellery, including her mangalsura.. Took me six operations and three years to start walking again."

“Did you get any insurance from the Accidents court? What about the auto driver's family? Did the police catch the culprits?”

“I got peanuts. No idea about the driver’s family. No idea if the truck driver was ever caught. Point is, the driver lost his life and I live half a life”

“True Sir. Very true”

From that point onwards till the destination, the driver would stick to the left side of the road. He would not ‘cut’. He would not speed. He would stop for school children and old people to cross the road. There would be no need to drive from the backseat any more.

OK. Now, this is a fake story. It’s not entirely fake, but hugely exaggerated. The accident was in Mumbai to a friend of ours. It was not a garbage truck but a petite fiat car with a hysteric girl at the wheels. NOTHING happened to the driver but for a few scratches on his chin. Our friend did NOT have 106 screws. No rod in the spine but just one in the femur. And his wife never had to sell her mangalsutra or anything of that sort as he too was not married.

Often, he would add some more colour to his story like the auto driver was the same age and community as the driver he would be with. It’s not rocket science to guess his age. And if you are a true Mumbaikar, it’s not tough to guess the ethnicity of a fellow Mumbaikar.

Thus, some times the driver who died in his arms would be a 25-year-old Konkani Muslim, or a 50-year-old bhaiyaa from Jaunpur or a cocky 19-year-old gutkha addicted Marathi manoos. Some times, whenever necessary, he would throw in another angle like the driver being drunk on duty. This was like getting down two birds with one stone.

This exaggerated story took birth one night when we were returning from college soon after our friend’s accident. The taxi we were traveling rammed into a vehicle at a traffic signal. I was shaking like a leaf in fright and in that stammering confusion, I had blurted out Poona, 106 screws and most importantly the sad sad filmi death of the driver.

Since then, each time he feels that sense of danger inside an auto, he belts out this story off as if it really happened. This story would work every time with total conviction.

After all, “Repeat a lie a thousand times and it becomes the truth” said Hitler’s pimp Goebbels. If one may remember history.

By the way, away from Uday’s hysterics, India is the road accident capital of the world. It seems thirteen people are killed every hour. Every year 150,000 road accidental deaths are reported all over India. There maybe many more that goes unreported for sure.

And yes, since Mumbai police now have stepped up its drive to apprehend drunk drivers, accidents have come down by a good 30 percent. Also, it’s been found through a study that a five percent increase in vehicular speed, increases the chance of accidental death by over twenty percent.

No, I did not make up these figures like the story of my friend Uday. I just googled them.

But yes, it’s possible someone else made them up.

The crucial point I make here is that we all must GO SLOW and NEVER drink and drive.

The phrase “Friends Don’t Let Friends Drive Drunk” is apt here.

Drink driving is a killer. Many a times, innocent drivers who follow every book rule become victims… all because some drunk driver makes a fatal and irreversible mistake.

Take care....

4 Response to "a fable worth posting...."

  1. Ankush Naik Says:

    Haha! Amazing incident and humorous narration

  2. shivani Says:

    Whatever the statistics Tandarin what you have said is worth taking a note of.Just want to tell you that i don't see any private vehicle on Chennai roads which does not have a dent.Trust me on this i took two hours sitting and watching and i came to the conclusion that drunk or not drunk Indians are also poor drivers as most can be best dubbed as ROAD HOGS...but yes as you say will take care :)

  3. Thought(s) of an old man Says:

    Certainly, the fable was worth posting!

  4. Tandarin Nike Says:

    Thanks!! Ankush

    Shivani, thanks for your comment. "Speed thrills but kills" should be the buzz word for the Indian motorists. Speeding to save somebody's life though may be justified, but speeding just for the pleasure of speeding is not a sensible thing. Most motorists exhibit their calibre by stating that the vehicle is in full control while they speed, a small twist on the road would lead to irreversible & devastating effect. Dents on every vehicle is a common feature in India. Once when I was in Delhi, I noticed a friend of mine did not even inspect his car after a motorist banged into his. This was very strange to me though I never asked him the reason. Here in Bahrain I was impressed with one slogan for all motorists on a super highway....... "Beware of other's faults". Here car accidents are all extremely fatal mostly because of speed and not drink driving which is a punishable offence where the minimum fine is Rs 75,000 plus.

    Thanks!! Bhavaji. The fable is laced with some additions on my part but my friend Uday was one of a kind. I have one more post on him on my blog. Riding an auto in suburban Mumbai is not for the weak hearted or ones with back trouble as you are well aware.

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