Roughly 10 million cars, buses, trucks, scooters and motorbikes crowd New Delhi's potholed roads every day, causing long traffic jams, gridlock — and frayed tempers.
The city's roads have not kept up with traffic growth. While the vehicle count has soared 212 percent over the past two decades, the number of miles of road has grown a mere 17 percent, according to the New Delhi Transport Department
"People are on the road longer, and everyone is on a short fuse," Satyendra Garg, the police official in charge of New Delhi traffic. "The result is a situation which begins verbally, then escalates to physical confrontation."
And because vehicles are a powerful symbol of often-newfound wealth, any scratch can feel like an assault on a person's status, he added. "So if someone scrapes their new car, they find it unacceptable and are ready to hit out."
Sociologist Abhilasha Kumari also senses a change in attitude as the country's new economic wealth makes society more materialistic.
"It's as if Delhi's centuries-old culture of graciousness has been wiped off and has been replaced by a frenetic and pushy 'me first' ruthlessness," she said.
Migrants from nearby rural areas, some newly rich from selling their land for real estate development, have also helped change the city's texture from a quiet government town to a thriving commercial hub.
"People are more upfront in their aggressiveness," Kumari added. "They believe if you have the money, you flaunt it, with your big shiny new car, and you assert yourself forcefully on the road."I'm sure none of this sounds familiar to my fellow Big Durian residents.