Two Indians in a car, what could they be up to? — Growing up in Singapore

(A true story that happened in 2000)

We were driving along one of the busiest roads in Singapore — Orchard Road just outside the Hilton — when another car starting creeping into our lane. S honked, but the other driver did not stop and hit S’s car. It is expected that we should stop, inspect the damage, and exchange details. We stopped but the other car — instead of stopping — drove off.

So we gave chase, and the driver of the other car eventually pulled into the Sheraton Hotel driveway — some 2–3 kilometres away. S told me to stay in the car — two of us Indians getting down — they might think we want to start something. So I stayed in the car. I see through the mirror S talking to the guy and then suddenly, he reaches into the car and tries to pull the driver out through the window. The driver’s girlfriend gets out from the passenger side and runs to S. I get out to make sure she does not attack him, and that the other passengers don’t also get out. In the resulting mess, the hotel bellboys and doorman have also rushed in to pull everyone apart.

S is not the hot tempered type, quite the opposite. He is usually telling me to calm down. But he is seething at this time. I notice that there are two older people in the car’s backseat. They have not moved in the drama. S is cursing angrily the whole time, and says to me — lets leave.

When we drive away, I ask him what happened — you told me to stay in the car and chill, next thing you are trying to pull the guy out the window — thats not like you — then his girlfriend got out — I had to get out — how come so jialat.

He said that when he asked the driver why he did not stop after the collision, the driver did not say he had not realised that he had hit someone. Instead the driver’s response was that he saw two Indian guys in the car, and thought we were drunk and might beat him up. So he drove away.

He hit another person’s car — saw we were Indians — decided we must be drunk — so was afraid of us — so he drove away. This happened on one of the busiest roads in Singapore, during the late afternoon.

Thats the Singapore I grew up in — where a Chinese man with three other Chinese people in his car drives into another car which happens to have two Indians in it, and he is the one who drives off. Because Indians are drunk and like to fight. To him, it seemed like a reasonable assumption to make.

Thats how he saw us. And we knew it. Thats why S asked me to stay in the car. But then having that affirmed so bluntly is still hard to take.