Donna and Joe have finished their assignment in India. Occasionally they still travel somewhere.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Car Talk

What we didn't mention in our story about Luna's trauma was our car accident on the way to the Veterinarians on the evening after she was admitted. We were coming out of the road to I.B.M. and were at a stop light with a policeman directing traffic. We don't know why, but suddenly the big old truck in the lane to our right decided to make a left turn through the front bumper of our car. (Actually "the lane next to us" implies that the concept of driving in lanes exist on Bangalore roads, which is not the case.) Joseph beeped to warn him, but it was too late for the truck to stop. Next thing we knew about 5 people were lifting the front bumper of our car to disengage it from the truck, and both vehicles were told to pull over to the side.

Normally in the accidents we'd seen both driver's would get out of the car and yell and scream and point at damage, joined by observers. Eventually they usually vent enough and end up going on their way. We found out part of the reason why.

Since our car is rented by I.B.M., we needed some sort of accident report to turn in. Even though a policeman was right there and observed the whole thing, we were required to take both vehicles down to the police headquarters. They might need to stay overnight, or if we chose to press charges, they might be impounded for up to 6 months until the hearing took place. This is an extremely effective way to cut down on court cases in the judicial system!

So here we are, dueling cell phones in the dark. Joe called Vishwas at I.B.M. to find out what to do. Then he called Baliji, who was still at work, to see if he could take us down to the Veterinarian's, where we were going to check on Luna and bring her some fresh dry bedding. Dhana and Nilesh had told us that they were going to go see Luna that night as well, so we called them to see if they could give us a ride home from there. Joseph called his son, who came to give him a ride home afterward. Kalyan I.B.M. "mobility team" came to stay with our car to make sure the paperwork was handled correctly. We were so grateful to have all these people come to our aid, as we were already exhausted and stressed out about whether Luna was going to survive.

We found out later that Joseph had to stay at the police station until midnight. I had packed 3 quick meals for us all, as we wouldn't have time to eat before going. I didn't think we'd have a chance to eat it, so I left them with Joseph, which came in handy in the long wait at the police station. In the end the owner of the truck gave Joseph 3500 Rs. to cover damages. (About 2000 Rs less than our cost after the insurance paid their part.)

Baliji drove us the the veterinarian's office. Other than the fact that Joseph had told him to turn at the pizza place, and there were 3 pizza places within a few blocks (in India, no less!) we were able to find it O.K. I was relieved to find that the vet had people on duty all night, as I was prepared to bed down on the floor next to Luna's kennel to keep watch over her. Well--not SO prepared, because I'd forgotten to bring anything to sleep on! (Who needs sleep?)

The next day we went to rent a self-drive (by Joseph) car from Hertz. Joseph said he could get us a brand new car to use, but I.B.M. would only pay if we used Hertz. We found out later that he was offering his son's car. This came in handy later because after about a week, there was a taxi/lorry strike and we were told that if Joseph drove the rental car he (or the car) might have stones thrown at them for breaking the strike. So Joseph brought his son's car to use.

The taxis were striking in support of the truckers, who were on strike to protest a new law (new as in 2004, things move slow here) saying that all trucks had to have speed regulators installed to keep them from going too fast. There must be some incidents to have caused this law's passage, but it seems ludicrous to us because we rarely see traffic moving at more than 20 kilometers per hour (=12mph).

Our car is now back, good as new. I think Joseph thought our little old rental car was beneath our dignity. He insisted on wearing a white chauffeur's uniform when driving that car rather than normal clothes. Now Joseph is ready to duke it out with Hertz so we don't pay for a car for the two days of the strike when we couldn't use it.

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