The Bully in the Mercedes

bully 1 |ˈboŏlē|
noun ( pl. -lies)
a person who uses strength or power to harm or intimidate those who are weaker.

On the streets of Delhi (or Mumbai, Bangalore etc) one can find the complete historical timeline of land transportation: pedestrians, animal and human-powered transport, mechanized two-wheelers, automobiles, even trains (where the tracks intersect with roads). It’s worth a parenthetical aside to reflect on the frustrations and consequences of living in the 21st century with the tools of the nineteenth century. Automobiles of course run the gamut, from the little dinky Maruti 800 to large luxury imports of BMW, Mercedes, Audi etc.

Driving in Delhi sucks: crater-sized pot-holes, overcrowded roads, which narrow unpredictably (’cause of Delhi Metro (subway) construction), transportation modes of vastly different speeds, and brash lawless drivers (I didn’t feel like a competent driver in Delhi until when someone cut across me, I could scream at him/her in Hindi swear words with practiced ease) and crap parking spaces. It’s nigh impossible for cars to remain unscathed after some time on Delhi streets.

Against this backdrop, we have Mr. Ram Prasad (the resident Have_Not in the story) sitting in his beat up 1990s Maruti 800 at a traffic light. Up pulls a shiny new Merck with tinted glasses. When the traffic light turns green, and everyone is raring to go, and Mr. Have in the Merck presses Ramu, what should Ramu do? What will he do? Our Ramu can’t even afford the side rearview mirror on the Merck. If both charge ahead, the cars will touch, and the ugly red Maruti color will transfer on the gleaming Merck like cheap lipstick.  It seems unlikely that Mr. Have will merely shrug and carry on (it requires an elevated form of narcissism to drive a car with an average price of USD 130K in a country with a per capita income of less than USD 1K). No, he’ll prob jump out of his car and give Ramu hell. Rightness will be immaterial (anyway in Delhi, no driver is always right ’cause of contagion lawlessness) – the wrongdoer and wronged will be determined purely on the absolute monetary damage incurred. Ramu is just an average guy, who just wants to get wherever the hell he is going, and then spend the day marinating in his own sweat. He will let the Merck go first.

Ergo, with the inappropriate display of power, Mr. Have consumed disproportionate space and got an illegitimate first right of use to public infrastructure.


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