Smile. Okay. Please.

For a couple of weekends since coming to chennai, I’ve been driving a leased vehicle I had booked through a mobile app.

The car wasn’t anything fancy, but was using the GPS-enabled app. and providing me with unsolicited feedback and driving “scores” at periodic intervals.

The moment I got my first feedback, I was impressed with the novelty of the experience, and even checked the app a couple of times to track my scores, which unfortunately was starting to look more and more like supermodel statistics- 26-23-28,…

I couldn’t initially “accept” the fact that I just got rated “low”, but smiled and dismissed it and consciously started focussing on my driving. It was then that I actually realised there were a few “flaws” – hmmm, i depended too much on my reflexes and I did go into some kind of trance while driving and sometimes don’t recall anything that happened during the drive at all.

Anyways it was only when the scores starting going further south and the feedback getting personal, to the point where it actually termed my driving “lousy” that I lost it.

Chennai is a busy city under “normal” circumstances, and I’ve honed my skill for decades on its chaotic roads, where everyone provides instant feedback on everybody else’s driving skills. “Dei. saavgiraaki” is reserved usually for the morons using cell phones while driving. Another feedback for a driver with poor road sense is ” aiey, veetilla sohlitiya?” (meaning : have you told folks at home on your suicide mission?”.

Anyways we ” chennaites” learn to give and take feedback on the roads, not take anything said personally, and the short “reaction times” given the bumper-to-bumper traffic, only provides for a stare, a quick “choice word”, and some finger gestures that are more than self explanatory – mostly referring to a flawed genetic pool and sometimes people on the family tree ….and we move on.

We chennai-ites learn the difference between “getting defeated” and “being defeated” early in life. I’ve been in the receiving end of the gestures and rants a few times and have leant to (a) not take myself too seriously (b) actually appreciate the vast, and flowery vocabulary of the other party and (c) pick up a few choice words myself along the way that I store for future use at short notice.

I for one think that Donald Trump may have done well to learn a thing or two about accepting defeat with grace and dignity had he grown up in north chennai. He’s been driving his pickup truck like a “saav giraaki” for 4 years now. Learning to accept and even embracing failure with dignity, is an important aspect of growing up and getting better at what we do.

Okay, I need to run and check my score now.

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