Thursday, 29 August 2013

Story of a Woman Driving on Delhi Roads at Peak Hours

Some days I wonder sitting in the crawling Delhi traffic that I'll die of boredom and everyone around will just honk and curse me because the car would be immobile once the light turns green. It kind of tickles my funny bone thinking, all the misogynists on the road would simply point finger at my smiling corpse and say, "a woman has no road sense. Look at this one, died right in the middle of a traffic jam making things worse!"
Macabre is all that stirs-up humor on the humid, wet and crowded roads these days. The rage on the road is seen to be believed. Women don't stand a chance.
If rain falls (even if it is a five minute squall) the vehicles start rushing to get into others' paths and looking out for women drivers like me to cut into. It is too scary not knowing which way to look - straight ahead or on both the sides. One never knows which car, on either side, decides suddenly to veer and charge straight at mine.
As a woman I feel the men on the road who often cast disdainful looks at my jalopy and me, think I have no right to be there. Woman are best locked in the kitchen. Right?
Often I see someone jumping into my way with complete disregard to my right to road/passage. I say this also because I do not often see men doing this to each other unless it is a lowly auto rickshaw they are running off the road.
Earlier, I used to shout and curse, but these days I just concentrate on survival. This stand I took especially after two different episodes. In the first, a guy came lunging at me on the wrong side from the opposite direction and started flashing his light at my face. It was broad daylight. I had my sister sitting next to me and this was a crowded market place with many other cars behind me. When I glared at this fine specimen of male testosterone he bared his fangs at me and asked me to "Fuck off!"
Needless to say, I was taken aback and wanted to shout back at him but, before I could react, he charged with his expensive Skoda and zoomed at me calling me names that everyone on the road could lip read and braked only at the last moment when I was sure that both I and my sister were sure to end up in the nearby hospital.
If that was not enough, he honked and revved the engine and continued calling me what is the common expression to describe a female dog before taking a sudden right to move on with a noise strong enough to wake up the dead.
I was left nonplussed and embarrassed that day and also thankful to be alive. The guy was mad enough to ram and kill both of us. He, like most others, know that no matter who is at fault, the blame can easily be shifted to the woman even if she has lost her life.
The other incident happened a few days back at night on my way back from work. The drive is long and by the time I reach home I have driven 30 km in the peak hours. No wonder that the noise of unnecessary honks irritate and anger me.
That day, there was this car that came out of nowhere and wedged itself right behind me on a two-lane narrow arterial road and started honking incessantly. (I don't know why the traffic rules are not changed to 'challan' (write a ticket) any vehicle that uses a horn beyond a certain decibel level?) So, this guy keeps honking till my head is ready to explode and I have no idea why. So, I did something I've never done before, I rolled down the window and showed this mad man my middle finger because he's an asshole.
I thought that the sight of the offending Index would embarrass him and shut up the racket, but, I was so wrong!
This fellow took it as an offense and just put his hand on the horn and held while flashing the headlights of his Swift Desire at my tired eyes. I was besides myself with impotent anger when he came as near as he could and then, as I faltered and slowed down because I was zapped by the ugly noise and the flashing light, he overtook me, missing my car by a hair's breath, zoomed ahead and braked suddenly. I braked too. Many behind me too stood on their brakes to save the car ahead.
I thought he was going to get out and smash my car when, he softly rolled down his windows and pulled out a middle finger at me. While I was struggling to make up my mind whether he was a manic or a cheapo, he pushed out his ugly head and called me some choicest names and then vroomed off to the next red light where I saw him idling with a smirk on his face when I reached the spot in another two minutes.
He looked at me and I just could not resist myself - made a puking gesture that he saw. I don't know what his next move would have been because the light changed and I turned left to enter my locality while he buzzed-off on the straight road.

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