Delhi’s got a reputation of being the rape capital of India. It’s not got the best reputation when it comes to women’s safety, but I’ve always felt that my parents are more stressed out when I’m out at night in Delhi as opposed to when I’m out at night in Mumbai or Coventry in the UK. That being said, I don’t think rape is something that’s geographically specific to one place.
Last night, while returning from NH7, the front left side tyre BURST with a loud “BANG!” on the Moolchand underpass at 12 30 AM, and I’m not going to lie. It was probably one of my worst nightmares becoming a reality (another one includes Alfred Hitchcock’s “birds” becoming a reality with birds being replaced by wasps or bees or any other flying creature with a stinger attached to it).
Luckily, I wasn’t by myself. I had Shobhna for company. We called up Guneet and briefed him on the situation. He very cleverly advised us to get the hell out from the Underpass and pull over to the side on the main road. At this point, I was hoping and praying that
1. there was a usable spare tyre in the boot of the car
2. I remembered how to change the tyre of the car (the last time I had attempted the same I was about 11.)
3. This wouldn’t be the beginning of some sordid story in the crime section of the next days newspaper.
Guneet stayed on the phone with Shobhna and talked us through the steps of changing the tyre. Luckily, I had a spare in the boot and the jack and other tools with which to change the tyre. While we were figuring stuff out, a man pulled who was in the service lane stopped and asked us if we needed any help. Since we seemed to have things under control, we said we’d be alright and thanked him for asking. He left.
10 minutes in, we had loosened the screws of the tyre and were working on raising the height of the car with the jack and weren’t having a lot of luck… a scrawny little man walks up to us and asks if we have a handle on things. He tells me “you’re placement of the jack is wrong” At this point, I’m a bit less scared and more annoyed coz it’s not like I can do anything about the placement of the jack since the weight of the car is already on it… so I go” well, nothing I can do about it now, what’s done is done and I gotta work with what I got” (imagine this in really horrible hindi btw)
He laughed and agreed. He told us that his car engine caught fire on the way from muzzaffarnagar to the airport and he and his friend were spending the night in the car on the road, waiting for his brother to bring new car parts the next day. He helped my take out the spare tyre after he saw me struggling to extricate it from the boot and tells me “well, this tyre’s not got a lot of air in it” again, I respond by saying it’s the only tyre I have at my disposal, so I’ll just have to make do.” asked his buddy to get a better stick thing which would help raise the height of the car way faster. In the time it took for me to get the flat tyre into the boot of the car, captain obvious is already tightening the screws after lowering the car!
Me and Shobhna then go about thanking the two for their help and ask how we can repay them. They refuse to take money (it’s pretty awkward even suggesting it) so I ask them if they have sisters or mothers who would be interested in some earrings.
He promptly tells me he is married and I then proceed to tell him I make earrings and am just on my way home from an exhibition. And show him the racks of earrings in my car. I ask him to choose some for his wife, and he tells me that she’ll love whatever I chose. So I chose a few pairs for his wife, and a few for his friends’ wife and give it to him as a token of our appreciation.
I tell him in REALLY REALLY bad hindi that I hope his wife likes the earrings and he tells me he is sure she will! He also tells me that I reminded him of her coz I was a grump when he was pointing out whatever I was doing wrong.
What STARTED out as a scary and unsettling experience leaving us expecting the WORST thanks to the media AND the constant warnings about women’s safety we hear from our parents, ENDED by actually positively reinforcing the thought I have always harboured – that people ARE inherently nice.
I thank the universe for looking out for me and Shobhna. We were fortunate enough to have two offers of help as opposed to whatever horror stories one reads in the paper.
P.S. I’m quite sad i did not get a picture with our knights in shining armour. 🙁