Delhi, one of the busiest places on the planet. To a driver who had the learn the highway code to pass my test the weaving lanes and beeping horns can sound quite aggressive. If you suffer from road rage I think this could be the place to overcome it, if not on the roads in Delhi, but you would be grateful for even for the worst middle lane driver back in the UK.
On route to do some shopping, we took a wrong turn into a market street in a 4x4. There was barely enough room for us to manoeuvre and we progressed at a snails pace. Cringingly expecting people around us to be thinking ‘silly buggers, I don’t think you wanted to do that did you’ yet somehow the opposite was true. People did their best to help us get through. Finally on an open road the very patient driver Sunil, could see the road ahead was clear and a carpark in sight where we were all ready to ditch the car. As he put his feet down a cycle tuk tuk suddenly made a sharp turn and we could do nothing but hit it. As the tuk tuk toppled a family of four made up of three generations hit the floor with a painful looking blood splatter. The three of us the car back of the car and driver Sunil dived out to help. It was obvious what the solution needed, get them into the back of the car and to the nearest hospital. Now myself and two lovely women and standing in the central reservation. We got across the road simply by walking, not looking and letting the traffic go round us. Most foreigners get killed crossing the road over seas because they get part way across the road and start running. The trick is to keep going at the same pace at let the traffic navigate its own way around you.
There is an unwritten rule on the roads of India, that who ever is the most wealthy, pays for the medical and any damage fees of those involved in the accident, even if it wasn’t their fault. We gave money to the tuk tuk driver and then jumped in a motorised one to get to the nearest hospital. Having just been in an accident, flying through the streets on this two stroke screaming hairdryer, which couldn’t accelerate its way out of a paper bag, was both scary and invigorating. Why is it when we could meet are sudden death we feel most alive?
Little did we know, there were four hospitals and we were heading to the wrong one. We also had the phone of Sunil the driver so when we tried to call it rang inside a handbag we had with us and we didn’t have my friend Heena’s India number and her UK one, wasn’t on. Needless to say we found them in the end and sat in A&E a long time whist we waited to see how they were doing. The family had concussion but nothing serious and no broken bones. The grandmother struck me as a really strong woman. I realised how rarely we see elderly people with cuts and bruises. Thank goodness, but it is kind of shocking when we do see it. Something about it feels impossibly wrong.
I guess what struck me the most about this day was that when there are no rules, the rule of doing the right thing prevails. Years after a road traffic accident I had in the UK I got calls asking me if I wanted to make a claim against the other driver. Waving fancy sums of money at me down the phone. I wonder if as be are so called ‘protected’ by all of these rules, we have lost the art of ‘doing the right thing’. It is the most humble human need to say sorry, even when something wasn’t our fault. Yet at an accident site in the UK, that can be seen as ‘taking reasonability’ by an insurance company.
If in chaos the only law is love, let love rule.