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Yesterday, I saw it happen once again. I have witnessed it so many times by now that I am sure it is an inevitable tragedy for anyone who has the guts to sit at the wheels of a car in this city. It was a slow speed accident. Something about a high speed crash says that yes, you were driving rashly and quickly on a stretch of road which was not meant for it and so in a sense, you were asking for trouble. But when the traffic is moving at a snail's pace, and you are safely guiding your own vehicle through the mess one foot a minute, it is so much more heart-rending when some buffoon who is on the same slow course dings your car.
This time it was a brand new red Tata Indica who got tagged by an oldish grey Honda City. The Indica driver was on the verge of tears and sputtering angrily at the driver of the City "I will punch you to pulp. I'll beat you black and blue. I'll smash in all your car windows!" He knew fully well that he could do none of those things with a cop standing next to him and the huge back-up of cars behind him on the narrow lane that he now blocked, honking in unison for him to make a move on. He also knew that on another day, it could've been him trying to sneak his way past another excruciatingly slow car and in a last moment error of judgement failing to come down on the brakes quick enough.
This unfortunately is the bitter reality of Calcutta's roads. The joys of owning and driving a brand new car are balanced out by the terror of getting into scrapes and head-on encounters with some wayward driver or the other. The slight ding or scratch must hurt like hell even if you are not the typical car lover. After all, the thing costs a lot of hard earned money and who doesn't like a new and shiny ride to stay that way. I have come up with a solution of my own for the time when I buy my own new car (A red Swift is high on my list of the car I have forever wanted to buy). Before venturing out on the roads to take on the incredibly horrible traffic of this city, I would request a hammer from the showroom's garage. Then I would swiftly ding my car with the aid of the hammer and drive away with the knowledge that the worst deed that can be done to a glinting, metallic beauty of my new car has already been done and at least find some consolation in the fact that I myself was to blame for it!