Why I cried at the Delhi airport after landing from LA?

It is really easy to spot that angry Indian amongst the crowd, especially when it is a desi crowd, this feature comes out easily. Why are some Indians, especially from big cities so angry?

When we met some friends yesterday, our friend mentioned how on one of his visits, he watched people shouting constantly on the roads of Bombay. Everyone on the roads of Bombay is an angry person because s/he is expecting someone to wrong them as they are driving – and when the expected happens, the built-up anger is ready to explode.

That took me back to a time when I landed at the Delhi airport after six months of being in LA as a student. There was some miscommunication on the flight to Bombay and I ended up at the domestic airport instead of the international one, from where my flight was supposed to take off. I didn’t have too much Rupees with me, I mostly had some dollars, but enough Rupees to take me from one airport to the other which are at a distance of 7 kms, or so I thought. I asked a taxi to take me, who quoted Rs. 1000 for that distance! I didn’t have that kind of money. I was shocked at the quote.

I then asked an auto who quoted Rs. 700, I didn’t have that either and wanted to take the flight from the international airport. I was desperate. The only words that came out of my mouth then were, “How can you cheat your own people?” And I burst out crying and started walking with my bags, because I saw no other way. The auto guy then came down to Rs. 300 (which was outrageous for 7 kms!) but I had to take it and had that amount of money, so he took me to the airport, unfortunately by then I had missed my flight. I finally did buy a ticket and reached home, but I was shocked at the words that came out of my mouth once I reached, “I am never coming back here! They are such bad people!” I was angry and exasperated – but that was my constant state while in Bombay.

As the day dawns, you are fighting with room mates to get into the bath room in time or are fighting with other commuters to enter the bus or train. If auto or taxi is the mode of transport, then you are fighting with the drivers to quote the right price, then you are fighting with your co-workers or at least spying on them to see that that person hasn’t stolen your idea. You are fighting with everyone in the office to get basic things done – like photocopying, getting stationary or just anything!

While walking on the roads you have to be watchful and careful so that no one dashes against you inappropriately. You have to be watchful of your belongings too because people can snatch or steal. This is the constant state of a person living in Bombay! How on earth can this person be calm and composed? Other cities are not that different, just the intensity varies. Basically in India, one is constantly fighting for everything and is constantly protecting oneself from everyone and everything.

How can people not be angry – is more like the question to be asked, because anger is a part of life. Unless you shout at your maids, at the auto/taxi drivers, at people in your team, nobody takes you seriously. Anger somehow is equivalent to power in India, because people can get angry and hit you, especially if you have money you have more right to be angry, somehow.

In one of the instances, I saw a man on scooter hit a taxi driver for inching ahead. He fell down from his scooter, but it was his mistake, not the taxi driver’s, because the scooter was taking a turn and the taxi was inching straight ahead. I was in the taxi and this scooter guy stopped the taxi in the middle of the road and slapped the driver, who started bleeding a little. I was really shocked at what I saw and wanted to shout at the scooter guy, but it was too late. I till today feel guilty for not standing up for the taxi driver.

This is the kind of unreasonable anger that resides in city people which becomes a natural response, whether you are talking to your family or with a maid or just anyone. And most people aren’t aware of this, because they are too close to it and cannot see clearly. This comes to light again when one is around other desi people because it becomes a part of our instinct. So when I see that angry desi shouting at some waiter for delayed food – of course s/he can’t be as loud as in India, because that would be considered violent here, but the gritting teeth and subdued voice reveal that latent anger that they carry from their cities.

This article was written by a deeply mysterious desi who prefers to stay in the shadows.