On a warm February afternoon, I experienced road rage for the first time. No, it wasn't on the outskirts of Delhi - but an area that the bold and the beautiful of the city crisscross on a daily basis. And my tormentor wasn't an uncouth male, but a renowned danseuse.
My car, which was stuck in a jam, brushed the bonnet of the danseuse's stationary car as my driver was trying to manoeuvre his way out.
We were in a rush because we were trying to save a dog that had been hit by a car. The dog had been lying in the middle of the road till a few minutes ago - resulting in the jam. He was writhing with pain and we wanted to save him. More so because he was a dog we fed and cared for.
The septuagenarian danseuse stepped out of her car and ordered her driver to click pictures of the damaged car. I requested her to let my driver go past because we were trying to save an injured dog. But she wouldn't listen.
By then, a colleague who was passing by, stopped to help me out and reminded the dancer that she was holding up the traffic. The dancer just didn't care.
We told her that no one had been injured - after all, both cars were stationary, when mine brushed hers - and that the dog needed urgent help. Still, the dancer wouldn't listen.
"Do you know who I am?" she demanded. Since we had no clue about who she was, she announced loudly to us, "I am a Padma Shri awardee."
We again pleaded with her to let the driver go with the car because the dog would die. We assured her that I was not going away and that she could take my number. We pointed towards our office to reassure her - just in case she needed to connect with me again.
The dancer just did not relent. The jam kept getting bigger with every passing minute.
In a moment of desperation I told her that I would pay for the damages to her car.
"Of course, you would!" she rudely said.
She cooled down a bit, asked one of her students in the car to take my number, and let my car pass. Then she pulled out her visiting card. She had indeed received the Padma Shri and every other award that a dancer can possibly get. Before leaving, she told me that she would have the bill sent.
Two hours later, one of her students, from the dance school she runs, called up to say that the bill is being sent to me. I was mentally prepared to cough up a couple of thousands because that's what the real damage was worth.
A few minutes later, the dancer called asking me to pay Rs 18,000. I shuddered and asked her if her car was insured.
She said no, adding that she was sending her 'man' to collect the money. I told her that it was an unreasonable amount, that I could not pay that much, and disconnected the call.
Soon enough I was flooded with calls from her students asking me to pay up. When I said I couldn't - they got abusive. It began with "why couldn't I walk on the road like other pedestrians when I don't have the money" to "b*** b***".
By early evening, she had sent her people to collect the money with a note on her very own letterhead.
That's when I knocked on a colleague's door for help and told him about the incident. Soon enough, my colleagues and I challenged the inflated bill and the men had to leave.
By 10 am the next morning, the dancer had sent cops to my office. And by noon I started getting calls from a cop threatening to book a case against me if I did not reach the police station right away.
I ignored the calls from the police station and shuddered at the thought of what the dancer would have done if any of the occupants of her car had been injured. I also thought about the inflated bill that she would have sent me then.
A day later, the dancer sent me an angry message: "I expect a compensation. Whatever you can give as you promised yesterday after your driver damaged my car. I allowed your car to go thinking you and your friend look educated and from a good family and will stand for your word. Don't forget that you have to face the Supreme for the results of your deeds."
I realised she was angry because her car wasn't insured and was bluffing me into paying for a car makeover.
I bargained with her. I told her let the cops decide. She wasn't keen on that and said whatever I could pay was acceptable to her. We agreed on a couple of thousands.
A few days later when she was supposed to send her 'man' over to collect the money, I asked her what the status of the police complaint was.
"Nothing. I did not proceed. You are like my granddaughter and also from a good family. My best wishes for your future."
I have no idea where she has derived her 'good family'-'bad family' dichotomy from, but if it hadn't been for my good education I could have easily taken offence to her being a dancer.
The past week, the dancer has been enthusiastically coordinating the payment collection from Goa where she was probably holidaying. I haven't been able to pay her up still because her 'man' could not furnish a receipt of the payment and I needed that proof to safeguard myself from her wrath.
Sadly, in this melodrama the silent victim was the dog who died an unsung death.
Edited by Sahil Bhalla
More in Catch - Delhi: intoxicated Russian diplomat rams into biker, punches cop