Saturday, March 6, 2010

Crash, bang, tring tring

National stereotypes are always wrong, but that doesn’t prevent us from indulging in them for fun. This blog has some pretense, to serious, thoughtful(?) and boring discussions on business. But on Sundays, this blogger takes a break to write an irrelevant, and opinionated rant on anything other than business. This Sunday, we shall venture shamelessly into an outrageous extrapolation of day to day incidents into national stereotypes, which are of course wrong - but then, since when has blogging got to be “right” ?

Take this situation you see everyday on the road. Some vehicle has hit another. Nothing much has happened – just a few dents. But what happens next is dependent on where you are.

If you are in Europe – both will stop, get out of the car and start to “talk” to each other. The more northern you are in Europe, it shall be an admonishment for not following the traffic rules and a firm statement that you are in the wrong. The more southern you get, the voices are more raised, shriller and perhaps a few curses shall pepper the dialogue. There will then be a detailed examination of the damage – almost always of the other vehicle; not yours. More dialogue of the above nature. If you happen to come from another country rather the one you currently are in, there shall be disparaging remarks of the driving ability of your countrymen. Europeans love to talk and argue, but do nothing.

If you are in the US of A – both parties are sizing what and how they can sue. And for how much. In which jurisdiction can you sue in order to maximize the chances of winning. You immediately start to evidence the mental anguish, the trauma, the post accident stress syndrome that you are bound to suffer from. You examine whether a case can be made for racial prejudice. You weigh the probability of invoking the Fifth Amendment. Chances are that the first words spoken after the incident is the Miranda warning. Americans love their lawyers and courts.

If you are anywhere in the vicinity of “Tupai”, it all depends on who you are and who the other guy is. If you are a Sheikh then you simply don’t stop; for you can’t be touched. If you are from the Indian subcontinent and the other guy is a Sheikh you just shake your fist at the speeding car and mutter a few curses. If both are either Malayali or Pakistani (the two tribes from the Indian subcontinent that inhabit Dubai), then you deal with the situation as Indians do – see below.

If you are in South Africa, you just take out your guns and shoot each other.

If you are in India, you get out of the vehicle and first bash up the other guy irrespective of who he/she/it is and who is in the wrong. If you are in Calcutta, then nearby minibuses will be stopped in the middle of the road, everybody gets down from the minibus and joins in the bashing up for fun. As you progress in the bashing, wonderfully inventive invective starts to emanate – at the other guy’s mother, sister, mother in law, grandmother, and even perhaps third cousin twice removed. Meanwhile a traffic jam of 1 mile on each side has built up and everybody cranes his neck out to watch. Indian’s are an angry lot and love to display their innovation in cursing and their completely unathletic ability in hitting the other guy.

But the strangest reaction of all happens in China. It never ceases to amaze me. Immediately after the incident , both drivers get out. They don’t even look at each other. They immediately fish out their mobiles and start calling their insurance company. No yelling, no cursing, no casting aspersions on the other guy’s manhood. I swear, I am not making this up. The Chinese love their money !