If Tiger Woods had crashed in India
By Siddharth Srivastava
NEW DELHI - In an Indian environment, the Tiger Woods saga perhaps would have
been a little different.
When the golfer crashed his vehicle outside his house, the police and ambulance
would have been the last to know, given the sorry state of such services in
India. Nobody would have bothered to call or inform them as they never arrive
when needed. No one wants to be involved in a "police case" that could drag on
for years, with innocents usually harassed the most.
Woods would have been carried back home by the otherwise usually helpful and
also very nosy neighbors. "He is having an affair/s, so problems with the
wife," they would all say - but only in
whispers as such things are never spoken about loudly, in public, to the media,
and never in front of the wife.
Riots would soon threaten to break out outside Woods' house, presumably in
congested Delhi or Mumbai, where roadside pavements are home to millions of
homeless. It would soon emerge that the driver was in a state of intoxication
and, to escape his wife, ended up driving his vehicle over beggars and
construction workers sleeping on the pavement at night. A couple of people
would have died without knowing what hit them.
After some time, the police would arrive anyway as they sensed that the
accident involved a rich man, but not a politician or bureaucrat or an affluent
businessman with connections. They would wonder how being a golfer could be a
profession at all.
Over cups of tea, they would wait for Woods to regain consciousness then ask
him to breathe into a dirty, bacteria and infection-laden instrument to test
for alcohol levels. Then they would threaten to take away his driving license
(never easy to procure, given the inefficiencies of the system) and vehicle
unless he took care of the attending officers. Bribe and booze bottles
accepted, they would step out and fire their guns in the air to disperse the
crowd. The log at the police station would read: "No alcohol traced". The
accident would not be mentioned.
The media, seeped in middle-class sensibilities, would have sniffed out the
story as it has a very powerful and saleable peg - the rich driving big cars
over the poor. Only top reporters with experience of covering events such as
the Mumbai terror strike last November (and who provided first-hand live
visuals - including to militant coordinators sitting in Pakistan) would be
selected for the assignment.
Senior reporters would station themselves outside Woods' house 24/7, while
others fanned out to hospitals. There they would push and shove their cameras
and microphones past dead or dying accident victims to get that elusive sound
byte, against all medical advice or intervention, in the name of the freedom of
the press and democratic rights.
The case would somehow eventually go to court. By now, much money would have
changed hands, involving among Woods' well-placed friends, relatives, lawyers
and important police officials. Handed more cash incentives, the police would
discover that the vehicle that Woods was driving was not registered in the
driver's name, as it was illegally imported to escape duties and taxes.
The court would accordingly be informed that the entire case was fabricated as
Woods owns no such vehicle, so he couldn't be driving one. The accident
probably happened due to a rashly driven truck that escaped in the cover of
darkness, so no license plate number could be noted. Witnesses could not be
trusted as they were sleeping. The number of killed and injured would in any
case be reduced by the cops as some would be illegal migrants from Bangladesh
with no record of their existence in India. Media reports about the actual
injured and killed would be dismissed as mere hype and hyperbole.
Some of India's top celebrities who love to appear on TV for any occasion - and
many of whom have reportedly also had numerous affairs or have several wives -
would come out in public to support Woods. They could include the likes of film
stars Aamir Khan, Saif Ali Khan, Vinod Khanna, Amitabh Bachchan, Kabir Bedi,
Shekhar Kapur, Boney Kapoor, Mahesh Bhatt, or cricketers such as Mohammed
Azharuddin, Saurav Ganguly and Yuvraj Singh.
Woods' wife would by now be extremely sorry for what has happened to her
husband and hold herself responsible for all the problems to her family,
because under Indian traditions the husband is a god and can do no wrong. She
would undertake a grueling fast and visit temples all over the country to
cleanse her sins.
Woods' mistresses would disappear from the scene. For the unmarried ones who
presumably had a good time (in bed and otherwise), there would be no question
of exposure to the media, since they would need to keep the honor of their
families intact. They would have been be taught by their mothers to keep intact
the virginity tag, the ultimate gift on the ultimate night of their marriage
and valued most by the Indian husband gods. The married mistresses would keep
quiet for obvious reasons.
Back at the scene of the accident, the laborers and construction workers who
survived the crash would wake up from their unconscious states to discover that
one of their kidneys had disappeared. They would be told that they were lucky
to survive and be sent packing by the hospital authorities and the police.
Woods would go back to playing the professional circuit, wife and mistresses in
two - if he happened to be an Indian, that is.
Siddharth Srivastava is a journalist based in New Delhi. He can be
reached at [email protected]