Sunday, 7 March 2010

Crash, bang, tring tring

National stereotypes are always wrong, but that doesn’t prevent us from indulging in them for fun. This blog has some pretense, to serious, thoughtful(?) and boring discussions on business. But on Sundays, this blogger takes a break to write an irrelevant, and opinionated rant on anything other than business. This Sunday, we shall venture shamelessly into an outrageous extrapolation of day to day incidents into national stereotypes, which are of course wrong - but then, since when has blogging got to be “right” ?

Take this situation you see everyday on the road. Some vehicle has hit another. Nothing much has happened – just a few dents. But what happens next is dependent on where you are.

If you are in Europe – both will stop, get out of the car and start to “talk” to each other. The more northern you are in Europe, it shall be an admonishment for not following the traffic rules and a firm statement that you are in the wrong. The more southern you get, the voices are more raised, shriller and perhaps a few curses shall pepper the dialogue. There will then be a detailed examination of the damage – almost always of the other vehicle; not yours. More dialogue of the above nature. If you happen to come from another country rather the one you currently are in, there shall be disparaging remarks of the driving ability of your countrymen. Europeans love to talk and argue, but do nothing.

If you are in the US of A – both parties are sizing what and how they can sue. And for how much. In which jurisdiction can you sue in order to maximize the chances of winning. You immediately start to evidence the mental anguish, the trauma, the post accident stress syndrome that you are bound to suffer from. You examine whether a case can be made for racial prejudice. You weigh the probability of invoking the Fifth Amendment. Chances are that the first words spoken after the incident is the Miranda warning. Americans love their lawyers and courts.

If you are anywhere in the vicinity of “Tupai”, it all depends on who you are and who the other guy is. If you are a Sheikh then you simply don’t stop; for you can’t be touched. If you are from the Indian subcontinent and the other guy is a Sheikh you just shake your fist at the speeding car and mutter a few curses. If both are either Malayali or Pakistani (the two tribes from the Indian subcontinent that inhabit Dubai), then you deal with the situation as Indians do – see below.

If you are in South Africa, you just take out your guns and shoot each other.

If you are in India, you get out of the vehicle and first bash up the other guy irrespective of who he/she/it is and who is in the wrong. If you are in Calcutta, then nearby minibuses will be stopped in the middle of the road, everybody gets down from the minibus and joins in the bashing up for fun. As you progress in the bashing, wonderfully inventive invective starts to emanate – at the other guy’s mother, sister, mother in law, grandmother, and even perhaps third cousin twice removed. Meanwhile a traffic jam of 1 mile on each side has built up and everybody cranes his neck out to watch. Indian’s are an angry lot and love to display their innovation in cursing and their completely unathletic ability in hitting the other guy.

But the strangest reaction of all happens in China. It never ceases to amaze me. Immediately after the incident , both drivers get out. They don’t even look at each other. They immediately fish out their mobiles and start calling their insurance company. No yelling, no cursing, no casting aspersions on the other guy’s manhood. I swear, I am not making this up. The Chinese love their money !


Sandhya Sriram said...

me first (before GILS). hang on, will read the blog and come back :-)

A journey called Life said...

what a sunny lil post this is.. aweeeeesoooooooommee!! since i first started reading the post, i was dying to get to the 'indian angle' and boy! was it worth the wait.. very well written Ramesh and the Chinese angle had me in splits..

Sandhya Sriram said...

ha ha ha, really nice one.... and how true.

I think we Indians are hybrid and evolve strategy to situation.

The last accident for me was when i took a wrong left, forgetting the right of way to the main road when coming from a side road and banging against a speeding call centre vehicle (I think he was also @ fault coz.......:-)), the standard indian technique helped. before he raised his voice, i raised it at higher pitch and intensity and since his damage was substantially lesser when compared to me, he meekly left :-).

But in another occassion, when i banged into a stationery vehicle while taking a reverse, i handled it the european way and "talked" it out.

a third occassion, where i banged into the railing of my flat, i handled it the chinese way - "left it to the insurance co"

so you see, you cannot generalize us :-)

P.S: you have missed australia... would be another interesting perspective from the genius, i will look forward to one on the comment section.

RS said...

Ha,ha ha-only you can give such a diverse perspective!:D. I have only seen the Indian bashing(that is, if both the parties survive) and this fishing mobile and talking over to insurance agents...omg!!the Africans shoot each other??

kiwibloke said...

Indians and driving - proof of Karma theory (which I do'nt in any case subscribe to). Funny as it might sound, your blog is a poignant indication of what ails this country. I would love to read a blog from you about Indians and queueing (especially in the airports). That pretty much summarizes why we have this drama when you dent or ding another vehicle. A cryptic and disjoint response to your blog, any thing more direct would get me branded as India Basher.

RamMmm said...

ROTFL. Hilariously built-up. Another aspect of our folks is that most of them have an expired insurance. Voice pitching does matter. In the event that you file a FIR, you don't know when the case will come up for hearing, maybe not in your lifetime or maybe at the fag end of it.

We are a nation of chaos and this seeming randomness keeps us the way it is. After all, chaos is life. :-D :-D

Ramesh said...

@AJCL :):)

@Sandhya - Please tell me, that the three incidents were not really you and your car !!

@RS - No no - that was just a parody of South Africa !!

@kiwi - I was hoping that you'll give the kiwi (and Aussie) perspective. Would the kiwis, just stand on the road and be too lazy to do anythin - maybe wait for Godot !!! Naughty Naughty.

What's eating you on queuing. Other than trying to climb on top of you from behind - Indians do queue ...... :):)

Ramesh said...

@RamMmm- Chaos is life indeed ; and we've made a fine art of it.

mahesh said...

Haha Ramesh... this was fun.

In SA it depends on your race (Indian v/s blacks/ colored v/s Afrikaner v/s other whites.

If you are Indian and bang
- another Indian then you find out how you are related to the other person, invite the other person for a braai (barbecue) over the weekend and sort it out.
- black (taxi driver) - just say sorry irrespective of whose fault and run away if you still alive. non taxi driver - you curse how the country is going to the dogs and try and see if they will pay anything (usually nothing)
- white - in Duban - do what the chinese do - wait for the cops and insurance company to come and sort it.
- white - Afrikaner towns - good luck to you - like you said - pray that the bullet does not have your name :)

That was the fun part. In reality -If you have an accident on the highway and it is not fatal it is a mix of all the above. In parking accidents you just negotiate. Thankfully only scraped my car once during parking so did not experience it...

Anonymous said...

LOL!! Every accident in S Africa is fatal isnt't ?? :D :D I havent seen how accidents are sorted out here but I can imagine the scenario you painted would be right - Americans love their lawyers! :D Was a fun read Ramesh! :-)

Vishal said...

:D :D Hilarious Post, I read this again and again. Wish there were few more stereotypes from your brilliant pen!

I have witnessed many such moments in Calcutta. I could absolutely visualize that dramatic scene you are talking about. The more north-westwards you get, the more uncivilized are the responses. Alas!

Perhaps, one more sensible lesson to learn from China!

Deepa said...

ha ha ha!! Indians are a sight to watch after an accident on the road! But the Chinese reaction just got me rolling on the floor laughing!

The funniest one I have seen is on Banaglore's Old Madras Road. A Maruti 800 came from a side lane and was trying to join the jam-packed main road, of course the only way to do it in India is moving ahead inch by inch. His front bumper was on the main road right in the line of the on-coming traffic, which comprised of a local bus. Now even the bus was inching ahead slowly. The bus driver, who is always perched 10 ft above the ground is not supposed to see the menial creatures crawling on the ground, and this was a tiny Maruti 800. The bus ripped off his front bumper, inch by inch, slowly & beautifully. The best part is, this guy couldnt go back, because there was already a tight line up behind him. He didnt come out till the whole thing was ripped. When he did, I thought he will go and bash up the bus-driver, but he came out, kicked the rear of the bus 3-4 times in anguish and came back to his car!

Ramesh said...

@Mahesh - Of course , its a complicated scene in SA. Only a dent in the time you were there - you must be a real good driver.

@thoughtful train - :) Be careful not to cause "deep mental anguish" on the roads of the US o OK :)

@Vishal - Only a few decibels separate north west Calcutta from the South, I think :)

@Deepa - LOL at the Old Madras Road incident.

Durga said...

LOL at Ramesh's post and Deepa's comment. People who are mere onlookers, just barge in and behave like they are the victims! Well, I tend to agree with Kiwibloke too, that the queue system in India is woefully pathetic. You'd be standing first in line and still, people jutting out from all other directions will be tended to!!!

Ramesh said...

@Durga - Indians love to watch a good fight and even better to participate :)

Vishal said...

Sorry for the confusion, I meant - north westwards towards UP, Delhi and Punjab. And yes, decibels are strikingly high in this part of India. I wish I could go back to more serene place... :) :)

J said...

Funny when you line up the different reactions side by side. How do you explain the Chinese lack of hotbloodedness? The best part in India is how so many jobless people emerge to watch the "fun".

gils said...

:) inga bannednga :) so me the abstaining from this kaampetishun

semma observation..oor oora poi accident panirukeenga pola :D by now ungaluku international driving ban potrupanga nenakren :) south africala epdi ess aaneenga? :D ella ooraiyum sonnengalay..chennai pathi vituteengalay..."yov saavugraaki..ootla solitu vantia?" Intha vaakiatha..RTO officlea license thapao cardla print panni tharatha pathi has become the defacto official startup line for any accident or near miss. driving classlaye...vandi otrathoda..thitrathiyum syllabusla include panna solalnum! :)

ambulisamma said...

First time in your blog and loved your post.Am not sure if you had lived in Mid east,normally what we do after a accident is go to muroor(police station),get a complaint booked and solve it with insurance,be it arabi vs indian or indian vs indian.And all arabs are not shiekh's,they are different.And if it is Indian vs Indian,going to muroor and then to Insurance may change based on the damage,once we had a parking accident,that malayalee guy scraped our car and he compromised to pay 10 dinars which would be the same if he goes to police,and we agreed to it since we may also have to pay 10 dinars and that would make up painting cost.So here in Bahrain first job is to stop and go to Police,so that you can proceed to Insurance(though am not talking abt crazy saudi and kuwaitians here) sorry for the long rant.

Ramesh said...

@J - :)

@gils - You are the best commenter in the world. Your comment has me in splits - the Madras diqlogue is simply sooper...

@ambulisamma- Thanks for coming and your comment. No I have never lived in the Middle East although I have come there many times. Thankfully have never driven there; so my account was complete hearsay, conjecture and wild imgaination ! Interesting, what the true situation is as you have described.

Reflections said...

LOL this is superb...forgive the spelling mistakes if any coz I havent finished laughing yet;-D.
Have to agree with ambulisamma but u got a point too.
And the Chinese I guess they dont believe in wasting time and energy.
But the best was SA....a perfect finish...heeeeheeehaawwwwhaaa....

Ramesh said...

@Reflections :)

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