India is full of hypocritical and sexist drivers. Today I had an unfortunate but entertaining encounter with one. My mom and I were driving back home after visiting a close relative at a hospital. As we were about to turn when the traffic came to a slow stop. Around this time our Maruti Suzuki Ertiga and another car brushed against each other. It was late afternoon and the road was narrow. We were about to turn to the left onto a road that was twice as dusty and probably had ten times as many potholes as the road we were on. What happened next, ie. after the minor brush with the car, was probably the most hilarious thing I had witnessed the whole week.
So the driver of the car that we had come in contact with was this man wearing a black T-shirt. The car itself was also ironically black (probably reflecting his mood for the day) as well and was a Maruti Suzuki Baleno. No, I am not talking about the latest 2016 model. It was the other model. Those living in India know how old that model is. It is outdated and was popular more than a decade ago. I did some research and in the best case scenario it would be a 2007 model. I believe that it was neither the fault of the this guy nor my mother. However the driver of the car certainly acted like it was all my mom’s fault. He stopped the car smack in the middle of the road and stormed out. He asked my mom to stop the car ahead but we had been about to turn so we parked our vehicle after we turned onto the road on to our left. My mom climbed out and the driver came up to her looking pretty angry. ‘Madam, this is a damn expensive car,’ he said. ‘The parts have to come all the way from China.’ My mom explained the situation and told him that she had had a long day. She also apologized not knowing whether she was truly at fault. I had been sitting in the car and listening to him. I observed that this sexist dude had not said a word to his wife before getting out of his car. His young daughter (I would say that she was aged between 6 and 10 years) was also seated in the back seat but he had not even uttered a SINGLE WORD and left everyone confused about the situation. He said he would get his car.
My mother climbed back in. When she asked a pedestrian where the driver had gone, the bystander noticed that the car had left and told my mom to leave as well. Others also said that nothing major had happened and urged us to leave. After all, we were in a metropolitan city in India. These sorts of things happened all the times. The Baleno was nowhere in sight so we decided to resume our journey. We were driving at a slow pace since the road was pothole-ridden. A couple of minutes later I turned back to see the Baleno racing towards us at an approximate speed of above 60 km/h. Mind you this guy wore glasses, was partially bald and had graying hair. You should have seen him chasing after us like a cop in the Fast & Furious movies, in the end cutting us off probably thinking he was Dominic Toretto.
Once again the driver stopped in front of us, right in the middle of the road. It was truly a surprise to me that half of his car wasn’t crushed by the buses coming at him from the opposite side.
‘Now you definitely have to pay,’ he said as he got out of the car. ‘How can you just run away like that?’
‘Sir, when I asked him, the bystander told me that you had left. He told me to leave,’ my mom replied.
‘He said that and you believed him? This is MY car. Not his pops’ car,’ the driver said.
Now this obviously doesn’t make sense because pops refers to father right? At some point in the conversation I had gotten out of the car and took a look at why he was making a huge deal about the whole incident. I was surprised to see a small scratch on the car, which was not even visible unless you were standing within a foot of the car. Once again my mother replied.
‘Sir, our relative has undergone a major surgery and he has cancer. My daughter and I have just come from the hospital,’ she said but instead of continuing she asked him, ‘How much money do you want?’
‘Madam, I am not asking you for the money.’ he interrupted her hurriedly. ‘I empathise with you.’
At this point I was wondering why he had stopped us. There could be no other reason to stop our car except for money, right? Obviously admitting that he had stopped us for money was embarrassing. It would bruise his ego and go against his morals. After all it was his moral standard at stake. So why not put it together in a complicated manner instead?
‘This is an inconvenience to both of us. When I go to the garage to get this fixed, just pay for the expenses that come up. The parts have to come from China and the car is expensive.’
I went back into the Ertiga. I used to be a huge fan of cars. I went online to check the price of this oh-so-expensive car. I was 90% sure that it wasn’t expensive. Lo and behold! The ever-so-honest internet does not lie. The old Baleno model does not even cost as much as even the new version, and certainly not as much as the Ertiga. Right about then my mother’s phone rang. I was getting out of the car when it came to a sudden stop. The driver said, ‘That’s my number. Just wanted to check.’
He even took a picture of our car’s number plate. This guy had some nerve! He left saying that he would call soon. Somehow we doubted it. He came looking for a fight but he didn’t get one. I guess his male ego got the better of him that day but at the end of the day he made a fool of himself. However, after the incident we had a lot of fun (all at his expense, of course) in bringing out the irony in everything he said. Well played, mom!