Wednesday, April 16, 2014

N is for Nonchalance.....

I was riding pillion with my brother, when suddenly a little child ran into the road, apparently having broken free from his mother’s grip. My brother brought the vehicle to a screeching halt just in the nick of time, to avoid hitting the child. But an autorickshaw driver who was just behind us, did not expect us to stop so suddenly, and hit us from behind.

Well, before I continue, it will be imperative to tell you here, that the city where I live in, autorickshaw drivers behave like they are the kings of the road, and you could be a goner, if you happen to cause any damage to their vehicle, however microscopic that may be. All fellow autodrivers will come to a stop and 'gherao' you till you admit your mistake and shell out money. They will ensure to fleece you, and ensure that you make good the damage, irrespective of whether the money is put to the use for which it was demanded in the first place. Do people not go to the police? No, because the whole process could take so long, that you could end up paying much more, spending much more time, so settle the issue there and then is what people follow.

So coming back to the incident, no sooner than we parked our vehicle and got down, the autorickshaw driver was all over my brother. He used the choicest of expletives in the highest decibel his larynx could afford, accusing my brother of not driving safely. All this while, my blood boiled and I was dying to give the man a piece of my mind. But my brother listened to him calmly, not speaking a word. His face was calm, his body language unperturbed. His nonchalant attitude threw me off guard too!

I am sure, it disturbed the autodriver because it became apparent as the tone of the autodriver  began to change, he spoke less loudly, and the expletives were almost gone, like he had exhausted his quota, and he asked my brother, “How can you keep quiet, guru? Settle the issue.” My brother took out a bottle of water from his bag, and offered it to the driver, “Here, drink some water.”  The driver appeared enraged again, “I don’t want water, tell me how you plan to settle this issue” he demanded.  With a little coaxing from my brother in a calm voice, the driver was gulping down the water, he had just refused.

Then my brother took him to inspect the damage that had been caused to the auto. There was a slight dent on the front so my brother asked him how much he thought it would cost to get it repaired. The mother, whose child had caused the accident to occur, had been watching all this drama. She came up to thank my brother.  She apologised profusely and said if he hadn’t applied the brakes, the kid would have been injured very badly. Other auto drivers had started to gather, asking what was going on.

Can you believe my surprise, when that auto driver said, nothing’s going on, and asked them to clear off and not block the traffic! He apologised to my brother for using abusive language, without knowing why he had to stop so suddenly. He said he did not want to be compensated for the damage!

This was a first for me! What could never happen had happened!! Let me assure you, this NEVER happens in a similar scenario.

Being nonchalant without being apathetic in a volcanic situation is not the easiest thing to do. But I learnt that it pays not to lose your cool, to remain calm and listen to the other person’s point of view. It transformed two people, the autodriver and me.

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