Men are from Mars, Women are from Pluto
Neo’s return to India was planned somewhat better than the U.S. invasion of Iraq; his Plan was the product of several months of vigorous lurking on the Return to India forums, hours of detailed discussions with his parents in India, and had been vigorously debated, modified, and then finally adopted by the Neos via a unanimous voice vote.
Here’s an excerpt from Volume 3, Page 304 of the Plan:
“Safety clause #9: It will be largely unnecessary for Mrs. Neo to drive in India, at least initially, because:
- Mrs. Neo has never driven any vehicle in India, ever – all of her driving experience has been on the wrong side of the road, and on the wrong side of the Pacific.
- Neo’s parents have already hired a reliable driver, one Mr. Venkatesh, who is licensed, able and willing to drive the Neos wherever they wish.
- On the six out of every seven days that Mr. Venkatesh is unable or unwilling to attend to his duties on account of “religious function at house saar,” Neo (who has several years of automobile driving experience in India), will be able and willing to drive the Neos wherever they wish.”
And so, naturally, 30 minutes after their arrival in India, Neo found himself in a car driven by Mrs. Neo, and Neo’s heart found itself undergoing its first stress-test.
It was one of those “Men are from Mars, Women are from Pluto” moments – yes, Pluto’s not even a planet but that’s sort of the point - that make married life such a lucrative subject for authors of self-help books; while Neo was looking forward to his freedom from driving, Mrs. Neo wanted freedom from the driver. (And also, apparently, from the Plan that she had co-authored.)
“I don’t know why you make such a big deal out of driving,” said Mrs. Neo, as the car parted a sea of two-wheeler drivers much like Moses might have, narrowly missed a watermelon cart, and went over a bump that felt like it was a living being.
For the uninitiated, here’s a quick overview of what happens on Indian roads:
- If you are a pedestrian, you could get hit by a two-wheeler or a car.
- If you drive a two-wheeler, you could get hit by a car.
- If you drive a car, you could get hit by the driver of a two-wheeler - in this specific case, an old man whose motorcycle had nearly been forced off the road and into a ditch, thanks to a sudden attempt by Mrs. Neo to avoid a harmless pothole.
The old man was more shaken than angry, and so Neo decided that he would step out of the car to help the man back onto his motorcycle, and perhaps even apologize. At that very moment, Pluto decided to exert its meager, but influential, gravitational pull – Mrs. Neo decided to step on the gas and speed away, leaving behind not just the dusty old man, but also very nearly one of Neo’s feet that was still on the road.
How should this incident shape the Neos’ future transportation strategy in India? Here are your two broad options.
- This incident is solid evidence that any deviation from the Plan is costly, and that Mrs. Neo should henceforth find other, less exciting avenues for exercising her freedom, OR
- This incident is solid evidence of Mrs. Neo’s superior temperament for Indian conditions, because she made the right decision to quickly leave the scene, preventing what could have been a very nasty altercation between Neo and the old man. Hence, if anything, this incident proves that Mrs. Neo should start driving regularly and immediately.
If you took more than even a moment to decide which of the above should apply, you know which planet, or rather, which erratic rock circling the solar system smiles on you.
1. As Neo pulled his foot back into the rapidly speeding Neomobile, he looked back and saw that the old man had noticed Neo’s attempts to get out of the car, and had a half-smile on his face, as if he understood Neo’s predicament; it was a smile that brought some closure and peace to Neo.
2. The driving expedition ended without further incident; Neo was relieved when Mrs. Neo used the car’s turn indicator to signal the last turn before they would reach their destination (Big Bazaar). Except, instead of the turn indicator, Mrs. Neo had turned on the windshield wiper as usual, because the turn indicator is on the other side of the steering wheel in an Indian car.