April 05, 2006

Zoom, zoom, zoom!

Someone at work said, driving is the single most dangerous thing that we do on a daily basis! And we don't think much about it until, just like everything else, something goes wrong. When I was back in India and even in the US, as a student, I used to envy other students who had their own car and could drive. I often imagined myself as an independent, young woman checking her watch in the morning before donning her shades and driving away in her car to work (no, not to Macy's!).

And that kind of came true (except the shades bit, I often forgot where I left them and had to squint at the sun light glaring at my face, as I drove). And then six months down the lane, I had my first accident. I was yielding to turn left (and I am a very careful driver, some might even call me "slow") when out of nowhere (isn't that always the case?), a Volvo had crashed right into my doddering old '93 Camry. Her Volvo took it really well (imagine the way some women blow lightly over their freshly painted finger nails as if something were mildly annoying them?) and my Camry just went all the way and died. Its hood stood up in a sad V shape and the fender too (definitely more dramatic than I had imagined a fender-bender to be!). The other driver, a girl of seventeen maybe, who was smiling all along suddenly burst into tears once the cop arrived! The cop took notes from "witnesses" and patted me on my back (a don't-you-worry pat), and said kindly, "You don't pay those insurance guys all your money for nothing."

Anyway, after a while, I was scared to drive and kind of leaned heavily on k to drive for me. It took me a while to get over my fender-bender incident. I drive now but draw in my breath more sharply and grip the steering wheel harder than I used to, sometimes.

k has had his own share of "incidents". I won't go into details here lest they reach India somehow and we land in what we like to call "a nice hot soup" (I guess they have heard most of the stories by now, k says, I am bad at hiding stuff, my stomach just can't hold it).

Anyway, the reason for my lengthly car-incidents discussion is that within a month now, we have had two cars run into us from behind (not our fault). One happened today when k was on his way to his volleyball game. It's really a tiring, albeit well-organized procedure: You call 911, tell the cop what happened, next call your insurance company, the other driver does the same. If your car has to be turned in for repairs, you get a rental car (if your insurance covers it) to drive until you get your car back, sign 22 forms more and you are done. Your baby is back, like a faithful tail (boot?)-shaking dog, willing you to drive it.

Sigh. I wish I had women's instinct that would tell me exactly when we should not drive. But then my instinct is often out-of-whack. Whenever k leaves the house alone, I have an urge to go running to him (not unlike the homely but dramatic heroines in old Tamil movies) and stop him for some reason or the other. Somehow my instinct tells me that my being there with him will keep us safer (maybe it has something to do with the fact that I am "supposed" to be a notorious back-seat driver, I of course will have to disagree). Since that turned out to be impractical, we have now settled upon a DDLJ-style arrangement (So cute no? Although k would be a very weak Amrish Puri, ahem...I might grow old to resemble Farida Jalal :), so he calls when he reaches destination and vice-versa.

As an aside, my cousin's wife says she considers the car lucky if she had an accident in it and escaped un-hurt. The car was lucky for her.

Nice, positive ring to that thought.


An Idiot... said...

I guess every married couple sign the DDLJ style agreement. My dad used to do that, and now I see my brother in law doing it; let me see whats in store for me.

slow driving is not always safe, you will get bumped from the back :)

dinesh said...

Nicely written.

One thing I've learnt through my own accidents is that as hard as it's going to be, to start drivng immediately, maybe that's the only thing that can prevent a long term scar. After the accident at lexington, where the guy hit a deep red and slammed into me, I started to have this bad habit of looking perpendicular on a green light, to see if somebody's hitting a red. That really sucks. It took a while to trust other people's driving. But I guess that's what you have to do. Because that's when you drive best !

Saranya Kishore said...

DDLJ arrangement?
Ha, and I thought it was just natural for either of us to call up and let the other know we have reached the destination safe.

I am more scared of accidents now, now that K, has to drive 4 times a week through horrible traffic on the most packed highway, which easily has at least 2 accidents a day :(

A. Noname Moose said...

k has had his own share of "incidents".

/me reconsiders Cleveland.

.oO ( Oh wait.. do I know about one of these incidents? One that involved some inopportune shut-eye? )

/me seriously reconsiders Cleveland.

Well... maybe if you let me drive k's super-cool Acura... :P

Hellboy said...

ah, two accidents in a single month, thats bad. You should probably try this - buy 8 lemons, make a cut in each of them and stuff 'em with Vermilion, place each lemon under each tire and then drive the car over them :) I am not kidding here, this sure will help.

my friend is a veteran of many accidents, not his fault again (that’s what he tells us). I was with him in one such accident, he was so used to them he knew exactly what to do. Called the cops, filed a report, exchanged insurance info and bid adieu - all in 30 minutes flat. I was shaken up a little bit at the beginning but seeing him operate like Winston Wolf relived me of any jitters that I had :)

Jinguchakka said...

I can feel the pain! I've been thro' one. I didn't go to insurance though. Driver who rear ended me was a kid. Made the dad pay after a protracted negotiation.

Prabu Karthik said...


we often do the most dangerous things and hardly ever gets noticed for it coz half the population does that!

but danger is a danger, rite?

if driving cars in US is dangerous, u shud try two-wheelers in any indian metro...

ennamo naanellam innum koncha naal uyiroda irukanum nu irukku...

RS said...

RB - lol, agree with the slow driving bit.

dinesh - yeah, I remember that incident, you were on TV and all and real famous for that day :)

Understand the trust bit. Whenever someone comes from a side lane (perpendicular), I have a feeling he will go straight ahead and turn on a red, and I always slow down!

saranya - I guess we just learn to develop better driving instincts :)

anm - Ha haa...I guess you are in for a roller coaster ride to cleveland :)

hellboy - I hope I dont reach a stage where this becomes routine!

(Seriously considering the lemon solution :)

jinguchakka - Man, thats dangerous. Maybe they should increase the legal driving age!

p~k - totally agree, driving in India is more of an art than a science :)

Parth said...

To slower drivers, its the ones who zip through that are dangerous. To those who believe that when the speed limit says 40, they actually mean 50, those who stick to 30 are dangerous :-) Most of our driving is based on the assumption (or hope) that the person in front of you or behind you isn't stupid when it comes to driving

RS said...

parth - I guess so. Almost seems like a mind game that we all play, regularly :)

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