I had been warned about drivers in India, but my experiences in Mumbai had taught me that drivers knew what they were doing. As a matter of fact, I found them to be quite talented; weaving their way through traffic, cutting off taxis and ox-drawn carriages, braking within millimetres of pedestrians, and always avoiding what appeared to be a sure accident.
Well, my complete trust in rickshaw drivers changed one night in Pune.
Getting ready to go out and celebrate a friend’s upcoming wedding, a large group of us streamed unto the streets and hailed down several rickshaws; a task which took considerably little time since the majority of the girls were clad in heels and short dresses… And so the events unfolded:
Meet Driver #1
Within minutes of leaving the hotel our driver realized something wasn’t right with his vehicle. We stared at him in horror as he turned around and calmly informed us that his brakes were not working! Seeing a gas station within reach, he brought us to a long and slow halt, where he proceeded to phone a friend to take over. We paid him for the short journey and got into our second rickshaw.
Meet Driver #2
Picking up where his friend had left off, this driver both nearly took and saved our lives. Driving down one of the city’s main roads everything appeared to be going fine. In the back, the three of us were playing a ridiculous game of ‘Have You Ever’ and were not paying any attention to the road. That’s when we hit a pothole and the rickshaw’s front wheel went flying off! (That’s right, the wheel flew off!) Sharp metal screeched against the concrete leaving a bright trail of sparks. I clung to the metal bars as the rickshaw swerved from side to side, nearly tipping over to the left before being brought to a complete stop. Our driver jumped out in shock and ran back to pick up the wheel he’d lost, while the three of us scrambled out from the back, having seen our lives flash before our eyes. Drivers stopped and the police soon showed up. We probably should have turned around and gone home at this point, but no, we didn’t. We got into a third rickshaw instead…
Meet Driver #3
With our hearts still beating from our close brush with death, we asked our third driver to take it easy on the road. He appeased us by driving slowly, but then pulled right into the blindspot of the coach bus in front. When the bus decided to make a sharp right turn rather than go straight, we were nearly wiped off the road. With a sharp U-turn maneuver, our third driver avoided a nasty collision.
And that’s how I had 3 close brushes with death in a matter of 30 minutes.
Have you had any close calls on the road?