“Baaammmm…” was the huge noise that was heard when our car hit a black SX-4 while zigzagging in Chennai traffic. This happened a few years ago near a Chennai suburb called Padi. I was acting consultant to a large car component manufacturer. Alongside with me was a professor of mine who was also consulting with this company. He had invited me to give a talk to a bunch of trainee engineers and senior management.
An hour ago…
Prof O and me had a long journey from Adyar to Padi, residential southern end of Chennai to the north-western industrial end of Chennai. We were chitchatting on the intricacies of my world and his world. All along, a black sedan was “driving like crazy” in the corner of my eye. Our driver, Raju, had actually revved up a few times. Since, prof O and I were so lost in our conversation, neither of us paid attention, since I had a job at hand of convincing the management about the limitations of their instrument.
Just before a traffic signal, the black sedan suddenly cut across and Raju lost it. Prof O and I were still deep in scientific conversation. Raju’s feet slammed the brakes and he moaned and looked at his rear view mirror to see if we had noticed. This is when I noticed that there was something amiss and I remarked it to the professor. Before, he could say anything, the black sedan zipped past us and Raju revved up and in 3 seconds, he not only caught up with the sedan, also cut across. Raju had misjudged the maneuver and “Baaaammm”, ended damaging the black sedan. Both vehicles stopped. The driver of the black sedan stepped out, a young gentleman about 25-30 years old, medium build and dressed in a safari suit.
“Enna saaar?” quizzed the sedan driver with his thumbs up, a typical “what’s up” of Chennai. I thought that was a typical Tamil gesture of asking a question. He was seething with anger and looked at us. Prof O shrugged his shoulders and said in English “We are consultants, we have nothing to do with this car”. The attention now shifted to Raju, who was aghast at what he had done. What followed was shocking… Raju unfastened his seatbelt and stepped out of the car and was about to examine the damage. The sedan driver slapped Raju on his face with his right hand and uttered words that I can’t write here. Raju didn’t say a word. We expected retaliation or war of words from Raju. Nothing! He stood his ground and quietly told the sedan driver that he was sorry for the behaviour and promised to pay up for the damages.
20 minutes of negotiation with the driver at a distance from us and Raju got back into the car. No microscopy or materials science talk after that, it was just the filtered traffic noise and the hum of the A/C. We reached our destination and got out of the car.
My session went well and the management seemed happy with my analysis of their instrument and we were ready to return. We were waiting for Raju and his car. Raju came by walk and was his usual smiling self. Prof O asked him about the morning’s events. Raju admitted that the sedan’s movements pulled him into an unnecessary dual, which resulted in the damage of the sedan.
“Everything’s even now”, said Raju.
“What do you mean?” asked a surprised Prof.
“Narasimha is a courier person to our company and he has been late in bringing his shipments on 3-4 occasions and owes us money. So we settled with him and we are no longer continuing business with him”
“Who is Narasimha?”
“The driver who hit us, saar. He is Narasimha and I am in-charge of handling couriers in this company from now on” smiled Raju… “He shouldn’t have slapped me, saar. That is why he is paying for this”.