A dash of Pepper…

…with a splash of Mint

Why living in India scares me..

Posted by Pepper on December 18, 2012

This happened a few days ago, while Mint was here. We were to meet BFF#1 in a pub in Bandra. She happened to be there with a set of friends we didn’t know. We reached, and after the customary round of introductions and handshakes, we settled down. There was abundant food and beer on the table. I touched neither. I am not a beer person, and I wasn’t even remotely hungry. So for me, it was all about conversation. The group of people present on the table were stunned when they found out Mint and I were married. Why? We don’t know. We didn’t ‘look’ married. We looked just like them. And we weren’t ‘fighting’ like married couples do. Eh? What? This is what happens when you are the only one married in your social circle. Other youngsters around you have ridiculous notions of married life. Did they expect a married couple to fight every minute of their lives? I give up. Anyway, I digress..

After making optimum use of the ‘Happy Hours’ there, we headed out. Mint had to meet a school friend of his. I decided to not tag along and let the two guys catch up. The BFF, her friends and I were to hang out somewhere for a while and then head to the BFF’s place for a stay over. The sister joined us in Bandra. Mint was to come to the BFF’s  place directly after spending some time with his friend.

After a couple of hours, we packed ourselves in BFF’s friend’s car. Now, this guy was one of the most reckless drivers I have come across. He was speeding on narrow streets, that were lined with hawkers and pedestrians. I asked him to slow down, twice. He just laughed it off, and called me timid. The sister was clutching my hand, nervously. I realised he wasn’t going to slow down. So I just held my breath, and watched the roads zoom by.

Our car was racing towards a bike. The car changed lanes and sped past the bike. We went ahead and stopped at a signal. Within a few seconds, the biker who we passed was banging at the car window and asking us to get out. He seemed like a thug of the first order. Since the car had not even touched the bike, the BFF’s friend decided to not get out, saying he wasn’t at fault and there was nothing to argue about. Soon the banging on the window turned violent. Before we knew it, there were 5 other bikes surrounding our car. An aggressive crowd was encircling us, striking at doors and windows with different objects to create loud, spine chilling thuds.

We were terrified. The girl in the front seat began to sob. We were sure had we stepped out of the car, we’d be thrashed by the crowd. I wondered what we had gotten ourselves into. At the same time, we couldn’t stay inside for too long. The crowd was turning more aggressive by the minute. I considered rolling down the window and having a sane conversation, but the rest of the folks wouldn’t let me do it. I could hear cries emerging from outside. We were called sluts and whores. Rather, it was the Hindi version, which sounded so much more crude. And then, it began. The pelting. We were trembling. Random people took out their helmet and began striking our windshield. And the side view mirrors. In no time, they had successfully smashed the windshield. We felt the shower of glass splinters. There was some bit of blood. The two people in the front hurt their hands, but thankfully, we didn’t injure ourselves too much. We heard cries of ‘Tum sab ko maar dalunga’. It translates to ‘I will kill all of you’.

I was preparing to die. This would be written off as another incident of ‘road rage’. What I couldn’t bear was the idea of my little sister being harmed. My instinct was to protect her, somehow. I couldn’t think of what to do. Just when I had begun to give up, the crowd started clearing out. Just like that. We were left in the middle of the road, with bleeding hands, a smashed car, quivering bodies and a terror filled mind.

What really happened? Why did it happen? Yes, the fault was the driver’s. He was speeding, but technically, he didn’t hit any vehicle. Didn’t even come close to it. So why were we made to go through this trauma? And most importantly, the question that keeps coming up is, who were those people? They came out of nowhere! They had no clue of why one guy was asking us to get out of the car. Why did they want to participate in this act of terrorizing and harming us? Heck, they said they wanted to kill us. This could have gotten so much more ugly, and I am only thankful it didn’t. But really, why?


54 Responses to “Why living in India scares me..”

  1. deepa said

    I am really shocked to hear this Pepper. It would have been very traumatizing for u and ur sister. Hope u guys have settled down now. I dont think any one of us would be able to answer the question “why”…but its really very very unfortunate. I am still in the shock of hearing what happened to you- who by now is a friend whom i seem to know for long…Please take care…

    • Pepper said

      Thanks Deepa! All of this is unfortunate. That a driver believed he could drive like that and get away. And that the crowd believed they could get away after doing what they did. I wish this was dealt with differently.
      Since the fault was the drivers, I wish he would be caught, interrogated, heck even arrested for driving like that. Let them even revoke his license for life. But subjecting us to such terror and then allowing him to drive like that again, is so pointless.

  2. scorpria said

    Oh my god! That’s ridiculous. And scary. And completely uncalled for.
    If I start to say something, I may go on forever. The attitude is always…

    Bah! No comments!

    So glad you’re all safe and it did not turn uglier than it was!

  3. R's Mom said

    Gosh Pepper…That sounds scary..almost like a story…I cant believe it happened in Bombay…Gosh! big big hugs okie…and seriously, after reading this, I am thinking all over again, if Bombay is the right place to bring up one’s child!

  4. DI said

    The issue is not country related. Yes, you faced it here, but it could be anywhere. I was reading up quite a bit of roadrage for some reason some time back, and read that in the US we have something 200 odd road rage cases leading to fatalities annually. So you can imagine.
    Also, you’re right, you did not touch any other vehicle, but it doesn’t need an accident to trigger anger. If someone on a bike even had to a swerve a bit, or got startled losing his balance for a moment because there was a reckless driver on the road, it can be enough to set off someone into a rage mode.
    Have you seen the “The street is filled with idiots” ad? No one gets hurt. But guess what, I think the couple was totally justified to want to slap the people in the car which scares them.
    Anyway, that doesn’t cover the fact that you were pretty much misbehaved with. I cannot begin to think how horrified you would have been. But being the sane person, it should have been you who should have told the guy to stop immediately, or even threatened to get off, if he didn’t. That would be the only way to stop the madness. Also, I feel if it hadn’t been for the girls being around, the people might have not stopped at just words and breaking glass, but might have hurt the driver.
    None of the acts whatsoever are justified here, neither your driver friends, nor the mad public’s. But someone has to be sane to avoid it from the beginning.

    • Pepper said

      You know DI, your reaction is just like what mine was. I fought with the BFF, because I did believe it all started because of her friend, and she was siding him. That is what I was unable to digest. She simply said we had been wronged. Yes, we had been wronged, but it started because of the guy at the wheel. I am in no way going to defend him/us. We were at fault, no denying that. I saw ‘we’, because I become at fault just by virtue of being in the car.

      Also, what made me so mad at myself is the fact that I didn’t speak enough, when I should have. I asked him to stop driving like that twice, and then I resigned to the fact that he wasn’t going to stop. I should have done whatever it took to make it stop at that time. What made it so much harder for me was the fact that I didn’t really know the guy. I had only met him a few hours ago. I didn’t want to come across as too sour, considering he was a friend’s friend. I wish I hadn’t cared about such petty issues.

      All said and done, I still do not think what happened was justified in anyway. Yes, the driver ‘could’ have caused harm to the biker. But he ‘didn’t’. But the mad crowd DID cause us harm for something that COULD have happened. Smashing cars and threatening to kill people for something they haven’t done is not acceptable. I still get what you say though. That it doesn’t take an accident to trigger anger. So yes, the biker who escaped would be angry. But who were the others? What right do they have to be angry, when they don’t even know what went on? I do think we need to take measures to hold back the anger, instead of hurting innocent folks who have no hand in what happened. I am sitting on the fence though. Without getting into rights and wrongs. I just know that it was a horrifying experience for us.

      And no babe, I really doubt this would have happened in the US. People there might have had road rage incidents (btw, 200 in that huge a country in the entire year is nothing!), but I still think people are more law fearing, and civilized in their approach.

      • Pepper said

        Also, when I said living in India scares me, it was mainly because of drivers like the these. The fact that they believe they can drive like that and get away with it, is very scary.

      • Dude, forget law-fearing or civilised, there are so many speed cameras and other modern equipment to monitor traffic(I speak for London) that one cannot break a traffic rule for fun and not have the fear to pay the price.

      • DI said

        🙂 I am glad you took it the way I meant it.
        Sometimes, a crowd joins in for the fun of it, and THAT is pathetic. Just because there is a fight on, doesn’t make it a show to be watched, enjoyed, and worse still participated in. Actually come to think of it, this was not road rage in isolation. It is actually our typical “maro-maro” mentality where majority crowd has no clue who is being maroed, and why.
        Road rage fatality is huge in the US, but I am sure the crowds wouldn’t get involved considering the stricter laws and the mind-their-own-business attitude.
        Hope you and your sister in specific feel better, because the thought of it scares me a LOT!

    • I am sorry DI but I do feel this is country related , I doubt if this would happen here in UK, yeah there may be a gang wanting to hurt someone , BUT there will always be someone somwehre who will dial 999.. straight away .. and when the crowd disperses there will be people to HELP not leave anyone like this ..

      road rage is becoming common , YES .. but a crowd getting together to smash the screen and hurt people inside a car is WRONG..

  5. ashreyamom said

    oh my god.. hope u r all safe dear.. i am shocked reading this.. i too have the same question why??
    take care

  6. Smita said

    No answer to your questions but this was one of the sacriest incident that has happened to somebody I know. Thankfully nobody was hurt! But seriously in the wake of the Delhi rape case….I get goosebumps when I think of it……I feel are we really safe?

  7. WHAT THE HELL…….. how can someone do this .. this is shocking even for me .. GOD..

    right I know this is not my place to say anything , but I would not go with the BFF especially if they are driving, I know its not their fault but speeding can never be safe , CROWD it only takes One to should hit-beat-kill and it becomes a crowd mentality because these COWARDS dont have the guts to do it otherwise so they use the CROWD to fulfill there agression..

    I wonder what will they do or react if this was happening to one of their own .. SAD very sad

    mankind is going down the drain .. I was reading your reply above and you are right this would not happen in a covilized country , I have never heard about this here in UK.. Never.. yes there are arguments but even they are in a civilized manner..

  8. sos said

    god, this is scary. When our institutions of law are like shit, street justice with idiots taking it in their hands is what happens.

    I have been in a situation where everybody was looking at me aggressively though it is nowhere as serious as yours. Ican still remember the anger and frustration through my body and even as I read this.

  9. bingo said

    this made me wonder what you did happen to hit somebody?????…well,I don’t wanna think about it even

  10. I had a chill creep up my bones as I read this. Gosh! that was horrifying!! Mobs are certainly never good in any country. I remember once in Bangalore, my husband and I were visiting someone and were passing through a muddy path. It was Ganesha season and there was a pandal on that street. Couple of thug like guys stood before the car, forcing us to stop and demanded ‘chanda’. We gave 10 bucks and moved on…. But I remember wondering, what if Rs.10 wasn’t enough? What if they demand more, or gold or whatever? They could do anything! And you are sooooo right! People turn up to build into a mob in no time. No one bats an eyelid if someone is harmed, but to gang up and single out someone, tons of people appear out of nowhere. Glad you are safe and stay safe gal!! ❤ ❤ !!

    • Pepper said

      I fail to understand why and where these people appear from. They hold so much power over you. It’s what creeps us out 😦 Glad you guys escaped unharmed too.

  11. Glad to know you guys are OK. It was a scary read, you must have been shaken. Hope you feel better soon.

  12. diatriblog said

    Well, I can’t tell whose fault it was since I wasn’t there. But it looks to me that the reaction from the crowd was uncalled for. They cannot smash windshields like that! Granted your friend may have been driving rashly, but the crowd is not to decide how to deal with that. And endangering lives of others in the car along with the driver is just very wrong. Did you lodge a police complaint?

    • Pepper said

      Firstly, the guy driving wasn’t my friend. I’d hate being associated with him, that too as a friend. And you’re right, even if the fault was his, he needs to be punished by law. Let the punishment be severe, but it should come from the right authority. More so, we shouldn’t be punished just because we happened to be in the car with him.

      We did file an FIR. Do you really think anything comes out of it though, in India?

      • diatriblog said

        hmm, you’re right. The driver guy was wrong in endangering your lives. You probably should’ve just told him to stop and gotten out of the car. I am terrified of rash drivers, and have done this once earlier. Coolly got off and caught a cab.

  13. Childwoman said

    Been there and its bloody SCARY. I am glad you guys are safe and not hurt. All I can say that these people dont fear the law here. They can get away with anything. Be safe, love.

  14. ajay said

    God! 😦 I am so disturbed and outraged at the recent incident in Delhi and then reading this post. Relieved to know you are safe.

  15. Your account kept my heart thudding the whole time! This is beyond scary!

    I don’t know if the driver can be blamed but we do tend to trace back our steps and see what triggered it all in the first place. And whether the car touched another vehicle or not, speeding is dangerous!

    But the whole thing with threatening people just doesn’t seem right !

    I can imagine how shaken you guys must’ve been! Please take care. Hugs!

  16. God, a shiver ran down my spine just reading this and imagining your position. {{Hugs}} pepper..am so glad the ugly crowd melted away. It’s disgusting how people just join hands for matter like these..no clue about the actual happenings whatsoever!

    The reckless driver, I hope, never drives like that again, especially when there are passengers he is risking in the car.

  17. CTexpat said

    I’m a foreigner who has lived in Mumbai for a over a year, and my daughter and I found ourselves in a much less serious situation, but I was also scared and amazed at how quickly a large mob gathered around our car. We were in a “tourist car” (yellow license plate) and a motorcyclist bumped into our large Toyota. It was the motorcyclist’s fault which I witnessed, but he started yelling and caused a group to gather with a lot of yelling. We were in South Mumbai near the Maidan so there were plenty of people hanging around. People peered in the windows at us and could see we were foreigners, but having crowds of people peering in and yelling was intimidating. In the end, some of the crowd took the side of our driver and the group dispersed magically. I had heard reports of crowds dragging drivers out of cars if someone got hurt which luckily was not the case here. I have never experienced anything like this anywhere else in the world, and I think that in India there are just so many people hanging around ready for “excitement” that crowds grow so fast. Even if we were downtown, there were no police to be seen. Unruly crowds scare me, so I can imagine how terrified you were and how lucky you were that the crowd dispersed before you were hurt. When you think about the bus rape in Delhi you can see what happens when a group of men go crazy.

    • Pepper said

      I am so sorry you’ve had to go through this CTexpat. This city/country is getting increasingly dangerous. I wish I had something to say. I wonder what causes people to go berserk like that. Are we really holding back so much of suppressed anger and frustration, that it just spills out at any given time? Or do we seek thrill in anything that seems ‘exciting’ and not mundane? I wish I had the answers.

  18. Jazz said

    :O OMG Pepper, I’m shocked like others. That must have been so scary. 😦

    And I guess Mint would have been so worried about it too.

    I’m so thankful you guys are unhurt. Stay safe dear.

  19. vethal said

    Pepper , just asking

    I read this line “She happened to be there with a set of friends we didn’t know.”

    Is it ok to accept such invitations. I think it was ok as long as your husband was with you

    After a couple of hours, we packed ourselves in BFF’s friend’s car. Now, this guy was one of the most reckless drivers I have come acros

    Isn’t this friend at fault too. what was the need to race?

    What if the gang did what they did in Delhi?

    Are you guys also at fault unknowingly . Just asking

    • Pepper said

      1) Yes, ofcourse! Those were the BFF’s colleagues. I would have met them even without the husband. I don’t think we should go about fearing new people like that. And since these were the BFFs friends, they weren’t even entirely ‘new’ to me.

      2) Ofcourse! He is the one at fault. I am not sure you’ve read my responses to other comments, because I’ve been stating this repeatedly. I believe he should have been severely punished for having brought all this on.

  20. I cant even begin to think what it must have felt like being there, inside that car!
    So glad you guys are safe.
    Wonder where is the country and its youth going wrong…does this sound like fun to ANyone?

  21. Ashwathy said

    OMG!!! 😯 Why didn’t you tell me!! 😐 I had no idea! When did this happen??

    I cannot really believe this is Mumbai…. this sounds straight out of the Delhi-NCR circle… seriously! Thank goodness you are ok otherwise….

    It was bad enough reading about the rape in Delhi… and now I see this on your blog. Wait, will msg you…. Too much to comment…

    • Pepper said

      This happened just a day before we met for dinner. Why didn’t we tell you at that time? I don’t know! Maybe we had just managed to shake ourselves out of it and recover fully, so it didn’t really occur at that time. It does sound so much like Delhi, doesn’t it?

      I wonder what is happening to Mumbai 😦

  22. Tan said

    Oops… this is too much… I can imagine the agony you and your friends have been put through….crimes against women are increasing…the Delhi rape case left me shocked…. Glad that you guys were not harmed….

  23. My Era said

    Very scary and unfortunate 😦

    I am glad you all are fine and no one was seriously injured. I have to agree the way people behave and react in India gives me goose bumps in everyday life.

    I hope you & your sister get out of the shock soon that this incident must have left you with.

  24. I’m so glad you guys are safe, Pepper. I can only imagine how terrified you must have been inside the car. It sounds like a scene from a movie or something. Even though your friend drove fast I don’t think the reaction is justified. After reading about Delhi and now this, it honestly scares me. I don’t know what they were trying to prove.

  25. Meera said

    People are looking to vent their frustration. Maybe the guy you swerved past had had a rotten day and this last incident became the straw that broke the camel’s back. The car driver was at fault, no doubt but what it escalated to is simply terrifying. Also, men, I think use multi-ton vehicles as a projection of their masculinity. The roads have now become an arena for competition. Until we start treating driving as a means to a destination instead of a way to show off, expend energy and excitement, these things will go on. Stay safe, Pepper.

    • Pepper said

      I wonder if and when we really will be able to treat driving as a means to a destination. I wait for the day. Right now, the roads are more like a battle field, with people considering each move as either a victory or a defeat. Add monstrous egos to this mix and the results are horrifying..

  26. oh dear , this is so scary. Reading your experience made me go numb, I wonder why we don’t have system to punish the offenders?, in this case the driver as well as the biker and rest of them. Why would a common innocent person suffer because of the mistake from the other. I really wish we should have better laws around these.

  27. bhavanahr said

    Hi Pepper,
    I have been a silent reader of your blogsite….but this particular blog compelled me to write as I have been in one such incident myself. This happened in Mysore, Karnataka. 5 of us cousins were in a car to get some pizza. We just had one guy amongst us whom you can say is almost a kid. To cut a long story short, A speeding bike hit our car..his mistake. But we were hounded by a mob of 60-70 people who landed there from God knows where in that sleepy town on a sunday evening… They abused us so badly though nothing had happened to the bike rider. So this is not a tale of Mumbai or Bangalore.. I think its a disturbing trend we are seeing as economic gap widens…. Irrespective of who is at fault, its always the people in the bigger/larger vehicle who is blamed, i have seen. Makes you shudder as to what is in store in the future. That incident has been so traumatic…totally can empathize with you.

    • Pepper said

      Absolutely! The bigger vehicle is always blamed for any mishap that occurs. Bikers ride in the most reckless way. They are a hazard at times, because of the irresponsible way in which they ride. Yet, any damage to them (which is their own doing) and you will be pulled up. It’s scary and annoying.

  28. metherebel said

    God..that sounds scary…I can imagine what you must have gone through. Glad to know you are fine now. Take care Pepper!

  29. that must have been scary, pepper! I know, this time I was in India, the traffic seemed to have gone out of control and you never know when one might come across such thugs. The mob mentality is scary in india.
    Reading you blog after such a long time! Will sit and read rest of the posts now.
    Take care and stay safe.

  30. mythalez said

    Having moved back to India recently, I may have been observing everything with a more-than-necessary critical eye …

    But still, what I find appalling is the utter disregard that people seem to have for other persons’ rights. From something as harmless as talking loudly on the cellphone inside a movie theatre to parking on the middle of the streets to dishing out mob ‘justice’. Citizens of the country go about their daily lives trampling upon the rights of the other citizens without as much as even an awareness of their wrongdoings.

    Just gives an indication of how we end up with the politicians that we have.

  31. Jack Point said

    Scary. Very scary.

    Be safe.

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