I was recently in India for work and was in my first accident in a foreign country. I was not driving; that would be suicide. Instead I was in Mumbai with a friend, and her driver picked us up.
In many countries, the standard way of yielding is that each side honks at the other until one decides they better back off or get hit. It is fascinating to watch, and I don’t know how they don’t have more accidents.
In this situation, both parties were turning in an intersection, but, unfortunately, neither yielded. We were in a car, but the other party was on a motorcycle. We clipped the front tire and broke the plastic piece that goes over the top of the wheel.
Our driver was unable to pull over immediately as there was no spot on the side of the road right away. He intended to pull over, but it appeared outwardly that we might be fleeing, since he drove about 100 yards to find a spot. The passenger on the back of the bike started running down the road screaming at us. After we pulled over, they caught up, proceeded to pull our driver out of the car, and start slapping him around.
My friend and I both started frantically trying to figure out how to open the door so we could get out and help our driver. Next thing we know, a crowd of about 20 people was surrounding the car. At first I was worried they were friends with the guys on the bike, but they were just bystanders curious to see what was happening. They were staring at us as if they were kicked back on their couch watching a reality TV show.
No one called the police. No one got out insurance cards. It was just a good old fashioned argument in the street. Eventually, a woman walking by stepped in to try and mediate. I could barely understand a word, but you could tell what was happening, so I just took it all in.
Eventually, a police officer on a motorcycle happened by, and we flagged him down. By this time, they had come to an agreement that my friend would take their number and call them to replace the plastic piece on the front of the scooter.
I felt the need to lighten up the mood, so I commented to my friend that the officer was handsome. She agreed, and the next thing I knew, we were taking selfies with the officer. Then everyone started to lighten up and have fun. The guys that were beating the crap out of our driver gave him a hug and apologized. It was quite a scene. All I kept thinking was, if I had been in America, the two guys on the scooter would be in jail, and I would be a witness in a variety of criminal and civil battles.
I don’t know which system is better, but it was interesting to step back and reflect. I feel in America we have overdone our legal system. Sometimes you just need a good old argument that leads to a logical conclusion instead of spending thousands on lawyers.
Moments like these are the most enjoyable about foreign travel. I love seeing how people do things differently and learning from them. It’s a big world with lots to learn. Travel safe!