A dash of Pepper…

…with a splash of Mint


Posted by Pepper on July 10, 2013

I’ve been away for almost a month. I didn’t want to come back with a rant, but what do I do? This particular issue has been making my insides roar. I knew I had to write it here, collect myself and try to accept this as a way of life in India. So here I am, hoping to sort myself.

Here is my problem. I am used to following traffic rules and this doesn’t seem to be going too well with drivers around me. I will start with incident # 1. Mint and I were driving back home at around 11 pm one day. I was at the wheel. The roads were empty. I saw cars in front of me jumping the red light. Not being the kind to do that even when the road is empty, I stopped at the signal. A few seconds later, a couple of cars lined up behind us. The car behind me started honking at us. I could see from the rear view mirror, the guy at the wheel in the car behind me was asking me to jump the light and move ahead. I held my ground, ignored the honking and continued to wait. It was a narrow road, with room for only one car to pass. So I knew I was blocking everybody’s way.

Soon, the other cars behind us started honking too. I held on. For some reason, the collective honking was making me nervous. I hoped the signal would turn green, but it turned out to be one of those never ending ones. Within no time, there was complete chaos. Every car lined up behind our car was blasting their horn furiously. I could see drivers mouthing abuses and almost getting violent.  It was unnerving and plain scary. I was blocking the way for a bunch of people who wanted to speed. They hated me. I was so scared, somebody would get out of their car and come and thrash me.

Mint asked me to keep cool and ignore the furious mob. The awful signal remained red for the longest time, before it finally turned green. Angry drivers in their bid to prove a point, sped past our car dangerously – most of the drivers glaring at us like they wanted to kill us.

I was beyond angry. What the f*ck was this. They don’t want to follow any rules, and they want to gang up against and kill anybody who does. Incident #2,#3, #4, #5 were exactly the same. Only difference was that some of them happened in broad day light, when the road was empty.

I don’t get this. People collectively decide to break a signal when they believe there is no other vehicle on the road or when the wait is too long. Every time I stop at a light and people want to speed ahead, I am met with hysterical honking, abuses and threatening glares. The mob makes me shaky and jittery. At times, I give in to the honking and jump the light myself – only because they succeeded in causing me an anxiety attack and turning me into a nervous wreck. Other times, I roll down the window, stick my head out and fight back, abuse and engage in a nasty battle.

I am disgusted and very, very angry. I don’t know how to resolve this really. I’ve been trying to get myself to breathe and meditate every time I am waiting at a signal and people want to speed ahead. I only hope I don’t get hit by an enraged driver one of these days.


45 Responses to “Angry”

  1. Hey Pepper, I am glad you are back and u stand as one of my favorites blogger for ur impeccable style of writing. well! I dunno how to say it but yeah. I know you’ve stayed in US for a very long time and the mentality is different from ours..perhaps we should get away with our road rage mentality of hurling abuses at fellow drivers. But, this is also true that you know Mumbai better than me and in a way I would say, get used to the Indian, if not, Mumbai way of traffic..u know what I am saying..i dunt want to preach.
    Keep faith, Pepper and keep rocking.

    • Pepper said

      I think I keep losing control and abuse people while driving here myself, even if it is under my breath. The kind of anger I feel on the road is not healthy. I wish I could feel disconnected and tell myself to not care about the morons around me.

  2. that’s scary pepper.. please be safe…
    Worst thing is people in India don’t follow the traffic lights unless there is a traffic police standing there & giving instructions..

  3. OMG!!! That’s so totally nerve-wracking. Pat on your back for holding ground. Mobs seem to be the constant backdrop to every issue in India 😦 Try putting up a sign at the back of your car ” I won’t be driving past a RED light” so whoever cares (and can read) can race you to the traffic signals, Don’t ask me if I’m kidding – not sure myself.

  4. Santulan said

    Have you seen the new mahindra verito vibe ad?
    The driver stops at a red signal when he can clearly drive ahead as no one in there, and his friends tell him that no one is watching… He replies that at least he himself is watching.

    In the same manner, if YOU feel you’re doing something wrong, don’t do it. Yes, we;re a bunch of idiots who haven’t grown mentally and when such a thing happens we can’t handle someone doing right when we want to break rules.

    It is ok to be nervous, just stick your ground.

    And yes, if you have someone who comes to your car and tries to approach you, roll your windows up, or drive away if seems threatening.

    It was nice of mint, to stick with you instead of asking you to just drive away.

    • Pepper said

      Haven’t seen the ad. Let me youtube it.
      I know, I don’t jump lights because I do believe it is wrong. But then the treatening glares and incessant honking gets to me at times. I should just learn to care less.

  5. I have seen people ignoring even the green light ..everyone is busy with their own lives.
    no one really cares till the terrible happens 😦

  6. R's Mom said

    Its happened with me as well. This was at link road, the peak traffic junction at about 3 in the afternoon. I was driving back with mom and R in tow. And when the signal didnt turn green, I kept waiting and the guys kept honking and honking. Amma was like Mint. She said, forget it and wait till it turns green. There is no ambulance behind that you have to give way.

    But the dirty looks people gave..baap rey!

    You arent doing anything wrong Pepper…its just that you are used to driving in US where people follow rules…how can we expect our country to improve when such basic things are not heeded to 😦

  7. SJ said

    The mob does what the mob believes. Following the rules is considered a shackle in the current environment, and it won’t change so easily. I can understand the anxiety of following it alone, but honestly, they necessity of following rules is lost in a society where people succeed by bending or breaking rules.

    If you are going to be staying in India for good, stand ground as long as you can. Else the mob will eventually drive you out.

    • Pepper said

      Going to stay in India for good? I don’t know. It is hard to make such statements, so I don’t think that far ahead. Hopefully I will be around. But yeah, this complete disregard for such basic rules is hard to tolerate.

  8. Jas said

    I simply don’t care. I stop at the red light before zebra crossing and then close my ears totally to any honking, abuse or bad mouthing.

  9. sos said

    I would grow nervous and angry too. That’s why I don’t like driving because people act like nuts on the road.

  10. Richa said

    I’m glad you’re back!

    On a lighter note I’d say, o darling yeh hai India…. Even M is left frustrated every time he’d drive when we’re in Delhi as he is so used to abiding by traffic rules here in the UAE.

    Don’t worry dear you’ll get through. Just stand your ground when you know you are right and make sure Mint is always with you in such a situation.

  11. Smita said

    Scary but I am proud of you for sticking to what is right!!! I am sure the whole thing disheartens you but either you bow down or just take in ur stride and what is right!!!! I am sure you will choose the 2nd option!

  12. Sumana said

    That was rude. Even after 5 years of coming back i have not gathered the guts to drive in Bangalore.

  13. K said

    Hey.. this kind of ‘never care for traffic signal’ attitude really irritates me too..

    I remember an incident when I was in India – I was taking my 2-wheeler to office.. I stopped at the red signal but an autorickshaw driver wanted to just ignore the signal. In his desperation to overtake me & because of my stubbornness to wait for the signal to turn green, the rear wheel of the rickshaw went on my foot 😦 I yelled at the driver at that moment, but I was so shaken, that after I reached office, I went to the restroom & cried – wondering why do I have to put my life at risk like this 😦 But then, I dont know another way..

  14. Ashwathy said

    Haha story of my life! 😛 In fact I wonder why we didn’t discuss this issue earlier.

    In fact I used to encounter each time I drove to my gmat classes. The signals in the outskirts of the city won’t have any cops on prowl. Now that I drive to work everyday, the story is not so different. So each time I decide to be decent and stop at every red light, I will have ten people behind honking as if their lives depend on jumping that signal. Usually I ignore. And I avoid looking at the drivers when they overtake me afterwards….it works. It’s only when you face each and every angry stare that makes you further unnerved. The other trick I practice is to stop in such a way that there is space on both sides for other cars to pass through…. so whoever wants to jump the signal can do it, doesn’t mean I would. This actually works.

  15. This keeps happening. And it scares the hell out of me as well even when the better half stays calm.

    I rather suggest if possible take broader roads letting those maniacs pass through, it gets so scary during nights and on vacant roads.

    • Pepper said

      If possible, that is a good idea. Sometimes though, you just want to take the shorter (and maybe narrower) route and be able to do something that is supposedly so normal – without having to worry about things like that.

  16. Kavs said

    So so infuriated at how we have lost all civic sense. Happened to witness one such incident in Pune from my balcony – just shook me to the core. A woman behind the wheel, waiting for the signal to turn green. A biker behind her honking like crazy. He like a mad man, stormed to her car and through the open window punched her face. In broad daylight, in full view of a very crowded main road. Nobody Intervened! by the tîme I got down, the lunatic had sped away and the very scared car driver was sobbing. None of the othe drivers came to her help. A few street vendors, all women we approached the traffic policeman, yeah, there was one, and he was like, I can’t keep an eye on everyone and he actually convinced the car driver to let it go! 😦

  17. Anusha said

    Totally understand and empathize with you. Have had many such experiences myself where people are too impatient and willing to break all rules. Right now am in Zambia, Africa a place, everyone calls the third world country. People here are so polite and nice and they follow rules to the T. We were travelling by a cab just yesterday at 11 pm in the night and the roads were deserted. Same scenario as you had mentioned. My cab driver stopped on each red light on empty roads, so did the others and no honking ever here. They honk only when gates have to be opened to let them in. On roads I haven’t heard a single honk so far. Let’s no go to US, let’s see countries that we claim as under developed and we should feel really ashamed to call our country developing. We are far from there and have so much to learn from them. I hope and pray for us to develop as a community in all these aspects than or being a economically and politically powerful nation

  18. […] ever, we often forget to be a kind and thoughtful to the people around us. I read Pepper’s post how people reacted at her at a Red Signal; how can someone be so inhuman and inconsiderate to a fellow human, in her […]

  19. chipmunk said

    Never worry, they are educated fools and they does that! I am happy you sticked to the rules!!! just ignore, people always gears up at the entry of red light!!! you made them to stand! its ok, let that be the punishment for them to boycotting the rules. Prove yourself, never budge for what is being right! People in India never know the rules and how to drive, glad we are not one among them!!!!!!! cool girl hugs 🙂 🙂 🙂

  20. Vijaya said

    I heve felt the same anger ,still fell it & hear it from right-thinking people who care not only for themselves but for all the people who are ‘suffering’ such atrocities.
    However, in order to rid ourselves of this ‘ madness’ we have to work concretely & with vision.
    The reasons for having come to this situation is that we INDIANS have been avoiding to talk about such issues in the open & have kept silent for too long.
    And yet at the same time being untouched by such ‘cancer’.
    We should not ignore these dangerous signs & symptoms that are actually ‘attacking’ & staring us in the face in every sphere of our lives in Bharat.
    We have to start campaigns(numerous) & question & punish those ‘irresponsible’ in power as to how & why nothing is being done both by way of enforcing law & order & punishing those who break them.
    These ‘lawbreakers’ are not riffraff who do not know right from wrong but they are the don’t care types who as soon as they set foot on foreign soil will bend backwards to keep up the law & follow rules & know that with their ‘influential’ contacts will not be ‘touched’.
    Those that ‘control the reigns of power’ are driven around in bullet-proof cars with security guards on every side & they live on streets & roads cut-off completely & guarded as though under siege but we the common people are vulnerable at every step in every sphere of our complex & difficult life!
    KINDLY read this article & maybe you can get some answers & ideas to combat such very urgent issues.


    Let us SPEAK OUT LOUDLY & not keep silent!
    Let us vote into power the only man who can begin setting Bharat RIGHT as he has demonstrated with his own State of Gujarat ( where we get the best MBAs ) where he has brought about great prosperity & changes in just over one decade.
    Do we have the courage & conviction to support him!!!
    We have to act NOW.

    • Pepper said

      I agree with you V.. I generally do not get into political debates, but this time I am pretty clear about who I support. And that link is great, it is really making me think..

  21. Jack Point said

    Perhaps you you start FB page on idiot drivers in India and have a list of basic road rules. If anyone photographs a picture bad driving or someone breaking the rules, upload it.

    • Pepper said

      Not sure I have the patience and enthusiasm for such stuff, but really, maybe I should care more and do such things.. Thanks for the suggestion.

  22. Aishwerya said

    Oh my. I’m sorry Pepper. I know exactly how it feels. In fact I’d ranted about the same thing in December last year and today as well. Hopeless no? Glad to know a few sane ones do actually exist. Hopefully things improve at some point in time.. Cheer up 🙂

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