A “lookie lou” is someone with no business being someplace who’s there strictly out of curiosity — like a crime scene or a fire ….. or an accident. So a couple of week’s ago I was involved in my first “real” car accident where there was substantial damage done. It is through this experience I learned that “lookie lou’s” in India are a bit different — they don’t just look, they bring a strong opinion to the scene as well, even if they are not an eye witness.
Anyone who knows anything about India knows that the roads are crazy and it is hard to understand exactly what the rules are because no one follows them. As my driver was taking me home from the market, an auto rickshaw did a number on our car, taking out the left headlight and damaging the front of the car. I honestly was not looking up at the time of the incident, but when I got out and saw that there were about 8 little school children stuffed in that auto rickshaw, I was VERY grateful that they were all okay, which was a miracle in itself. It was what followed that I want to highlight.
- When an accident occurs here, with no regard to where they are on the road (like in the middle of it), both parties just stop and want to discuss. I finally had to ask my driver if he would please just pull over to the side of the road so we weren’t blocking traffic. I have seen two parties in an accident stop and start a fist fight right in the middle of the road totally oblivious to the number of cars backing up on the street.
- EVERY one that is anywhere nearby (including several streets over) come out to join in the event. I was the lone woman amongst the crowd of men that gathered including guards, people walking on the street and every motorcyclist that passed us by. It did not matter if they witnessed the accident, they had something to add to the moment. The opinions that were shared became very strong and animated. Men were taking sides and as my driver pointed out to me, it is often the “richer” party expected to take blame as they have the money. As all of it was spoken in Hindi I could not understand the words, but I sure could read the body language.
- In this hour long conversation over who did what, no police were ever involved. The parties concerned (plus many others) hashed it out with acknowledgement that the auto rickshaw driver “was a poor man with no money” and drove away happy that he did not need to pay anything. I drove away happy that no child was hurt and that the tempers never got to the point that punches were thrown.
- In India, you do not insure a driver, an automobile is insured. As a result, regardless of who was at fault or who was driving, our insurance on our car paid for a portion of it. The amount we needed to pay, which was the majority, was merely a fraction of what an accident like that would have cost in the US.
We have had several small incidences where rickshaws or motorcycles have bumped up to the rear fender getting too close or side swiping the side view mirrors, but this accident confirmed exactly why we do not allow Hailey to ride in the car alone with the driver. I was so grateful it was me and not one of my children, but if it had been one of my boys they would have at least blended in with the male population that wanted to do more than just “look.”