Friday, July 22, 2011

Road Rage is Back!

I thought I had outgrown Road Rage some 6-7 years back. I remember picking up fights with fellow commuters in 2000-2004 which sometimes got physical. I remember a night coming back from office, a maruti van splashed water on me. I used to drive maruti 800 and my windows were open. I got so wild I chased that van all the way to eastern express highway and in my attempt to corner the van I bumped a bike. I took the couple to the hospital, paid their bill, dropped them home and swore I won't lose my temper like that again...

But my rage is back with vengeance. It started with me buying our second car. Its a Honda Civic. Its big and its expensive. I even got an automatic as my office is a good 1.5 hrs drive in Mumbai traffic. I knew I would have to change my driving style considering its dimensions and our Indian way of driving. Like, I have tried driving in the right lane, maintain distance from the car ahead, you name it...

I knew it will be a challenge the first day I drove to office. The car is wide and we Indians drive too close to each other. I felt a distinct chill looking out of my left window to see the BEST bus drive past me(my car was still) just a few inches away. I held my breath till the bus was gone before I moved an inch. Then just a day before completing its first month, a Sumo brushed its bumper in Powai. JVLR was crowded and I was waiting at the signal when the Sumo driver brushed its rear bumper. By the time I got down to assess the damages, he had disappeared. Later the same week, right in my home parking lot a i10 brushed against its rear bumper again.

Couple of weeks later I was driving with my family to my daughter's school. The road was riddled with pot holes and I braked. The taxi behind me was driving so close to me that he did not see and rear ended the car. I asked my wife and kid to go ahead while a screamed at the taxi driver. I took the car to the workshop and got it fixed for 30K. Thanks to the Insurance I had to pay just 6K out of pocket( I know they will get me next year).

Just two days after I got my car back from the garage another car rear ended it. This time I lost it. I ranted like a maniac on the owner of the car only to find out later that he was my neighbor (he had recently rented the flat right under mine).

This was about a month ago. Yesterday, while I had stopped at a turn, a rick tried to maneuver right between the tiny space between my car and the road partition. I tried glowering at him and then tried to block him. The result, a gash on the side of the car.

Its not like I'm a new driver. I have driven car for more than 20 years, 4 of which were in the US. But for the first time, I today feel scared to drive. I go to my office counting the cars / ricks and other vehicles who butt in the tiniest of crevices between two cars. I've started hurling obscenities at the ricks who create parallel lanes cornering my car, rendering me immobile.

In more than a year after returning from the US, I thought I'm well adjusted. I was going along fine. Until now. The primitive instincts of me first and to hell with the rest have got to me. I've been on the receiving end a few times before but this time its really got me by my..... I loathe my fellow citizens. I shout from inside of rolled up windows. They can't hear me but I can. Its madness. Its surreal. Its bizarre. It goes on for 3 hours every day. It makes my throat hurt. Just looking at the gash as I get in/out of the car makes my blood boil. I HATE RICKS. They are like flies crowding, buzzing all around you. I feel like taking a fly squatter and going flap! flap! flap!. Today when driving to office, I even imagined an iPhone game of Road Rage where you can squash the Ricks under your thumb!!

I'm beginning to realize somewhere within me, I've started to hate this place, its people. This is land of the uncivilized. Here is to 5000 years of uncivil living.