Like every other evening, I took the e-Rickshaw on Friday evening from Uttam Nagar east to Dabdi. The driver was a young man , 23, from Begusarai, Bihar and his name was Aman. As usual, I took the shotgun seat next to the driver because the drivers have amusing stories to tell. Therefore, while looking ahead and talking to this cheerful gentleman, I didn’t know who all were sitting in the 4 seats behind us. Aman amused me by telling the story of how his girlfriend from last 5 years turned bewafa! And he got married at 21 and became a father at 22.
At C 1 Janak Puri signal, some passengers deboarded. My pleasant evening mood was suddenly disturbed by the sound of a rather violent pat that I found was on Aman’s hand. There was a passenger, apparently of African origin, who had given Rs. 100 and Aman didn’t notice that as he was busy narrating his stories to me and assumed it was Rs. 10 note, which is what passengers often gave because the ride was priced flat at Rs. 10.
Aman apologized, of course in Hindi. And gave him the rest of the change. He again made some mistake in counting and there was one Rs. 10 note less in the change. The passenger yelled again, this time rather more loudly and hit his arm. Aman realized his mistake, apologized again and gave the Rs. 10 note. The man left talking to himself.
I don’t know if that is how that man or other people of his community usually talked or he was high on something, but I found this demeanor very disturbing. I can tell from my gut feeling, and not because Aman and I have common identity – Indian, that it was an honest mistake. Incidentally, this happened, just when he was telling me that he does not like Delhi because people are very rude to him.
I do not know where that man is from. If it’s Nigeria or some other place. I don’t want to believe that all people of his country or continent behave like that. For all I know, on his part, it might as well be very natural. His talking to himself could also be natural – we also do that in anger.
But the only point I am making is that there is a possibility of another side in each of such cases of conflict. Before jumping to any conclusion, we may want to hold our judgments and keep our mind open, absorb information, if we absolutely have to ( we can always have the option of not going to facebook or avoiding news of any kind!) and later have any opinion. Each conflict is different. Assuming that all Nigerians in India are into drug peddling or all Indians are racists is quite a dangerous proposition.
Interestingly, when I told that man that he should not have hit Aman, the lone woman in the rear seat, an Indian, advised us that we should stop harassing Nigerians.