Last week marked my first on-road fight. Usually, I’m a staunch follower of ahimsa on the roads – I always give way to the motorists and other odd vehicles that cross my path, I don’t honk for no apparent reason, I wait for the signal to turn green (which qualifies me to be somewhat of a rare breed on the roads of this city) and hell, I even smile at the auto guys who curse me. Come to think of it now, it’s only resulted in more cuss words thrown at my direction. Which is pretty dumb, I mean, hello, auto anna, ever heard of chivalry?
I digress – point being, I’ve never really allowed myself to get into a fight on the roads of Chennai the one and a half years I’ve been behind the wheel.
Anyway, last week, I was taking my car out of the street but I was stopped halfway because of a Metro Water Tanker Lorry that was supplying water to one of the houses at the beginning of the street. Like most sane people, I waited, after which I honked.
Not even for my extremely annoying don’t-take-your-hands-off-the-horn-for-10-full-seconds-honk. Clearly, this guy wasn’t going to to budge and I was getting late for work. By this time, there was a buildup of traffic on both sides.
One auto guy stepped out of his vehicle and tapped at my window – “Maydum, reverse pannunga. If you move, atleast us smaller vehicles can go through”
I don’t know about how you guys would have reacted, but I was extremely ticked off. More than the request, it was his tone – the man was acting as though he was running late to present his acquisition proposal to Mukesh Ambani. DEI. Besides, I wasn’t holding up the traffic, the lorry was!
“Mudiyadhu sir. Are you the only one who has work? I am also running late, I also have a million things to do. Ask the lorry fellow to move, we can all leave together”. The auto guy was a little taken aback (In all honesty, so was I. I had never raised my voice on the road to anyone before), but he continued his monologue about my reversing and him getting his way so that he could meet Bill Gates by which time I was in total mortal kombat mode.
“I understood the first time, sir. But why should I move? He’s the one blocking all of us! Make him leave this place and we can all go.”
“He will take an hour! Reverse now!”
The auto guy had upped his decibel levels some 10 times now and ofcourse, a mini congretation of other auto drivers similarly stuck in the road had assembled around him.
“Don’t shout, sir. I should give you way and wait for an hour? How’s that fair? Either you ask the lorry driver to move and we all go or you wait for one hour with me. I am not moving, I am not giving any of you way.” I finished.
Severe Bhagat Singh Feel.
By this time, my driver,had also traipsed to the spot. Clearly, he had been seeking some early morning entertainment but the moment he noticed that I was the reason for the auto kaaran’s blood pressure, he jumped to open my door – “Amma, vella vaanga ma” he said to me before he turned to the Autokaaran General Assembly.
“Venda anna, don’t mind her. Periya edathu ponnu*”
Periya edathu ponnu it seems. If there was one thing my driver was better at than driving, it was giving buildup. Initially, I didn’t want to give way to my driver either, because of the burning desire to continue fighting for my noble cause, but something told me that if I didn’t budge, I might be subject to some extreme autokaaran abuse.
I got out and let him do the reversing, trying my best to maintain my Damn-I’m-late-for-my-breakfast-meeting-with-Karunanidhi look as I waited. Eventually, the traffic cleared, and I even smiled at the at the auto guy who cussed as he crossed my way. I’m nice like that.
Finally I landed up in office and told my colleague T about the morning’s events (with a hint of pride, may I add).
“Wait.” she said as I finished narrating my heroics. “You invited the wrath of around a dozen psycho autokaarans for what purpose, exactly?”
“To clear the traffic?”
“And do what?”
“Come to office on time?”
“And do what?”
I don’t like these experiences with morals.
* Periya Edathu Ponnu – crudely translated to “big place girl”, if you know what I mean.