Dear Janhavi Gadkar: How difficult was it for you, to call a goddamn cab?

On 9 June, 35-year old corporate lawyer Janhavi Gadkar decided to celebrate a corporate deal by having a few (the number is still under dispute) drinks at a hotel with her colleagues on Marine Drive.

Rajyasree Sen June 13, 2015 08:23:19 IST
Dear Janhavi Gadkar: How difficult was it for you, to call a goddamn cab?

On 9 June, 35-year old corporate lawyer Janhavi Gadkar decided to celebrate a corporate deal by having a few (the number is still under dispute) drinks at a hotel with her colleagues on Marine Drive.

At the other end of town in Bhiwandi, the Saboowala family was celebrating their son’s exam results at Karishma Dhaba. Their paths would soon cross, and with unfortunate consequences.

Janhavi got into her Audi at 12.55 am and drove 11 kms on the wrong side of the road at over 120 km/hr and rammed her car full pelt into an incoming taxi. That taxi – which was being driven on the right side of the road -– was carrying home the Saboowala family. Janhavi killed the taxi driver and the father of the family and grievously injured four others. The Saboowala boy spent the day after his exam result celebration burying his father and tending to the rest of his family in hospital. Janhavi escaped because her expensive car’s airbags inflated and saved her.

Dear Janhavi Gadkar How difficult was it for you to call a goddamn cab

Image courtesy: IBNLive

Few incidents reduce me to such shock and outrage as this. And here’s why: This “accident,” or as I see it, homicide, could have been easily avoided. All it would have required was a modicum of good sense and responsibility

It’s not about the alcohol. I have no moral issues with people drinking and even drinking themselves into a stupor. But why is it that someone who can afford a Rs 40 lakh car (that’s the on-road price for a low-end Audi 3), and spent a couple of thousand rupees on drinks, refuse to hire a driver or call a taxi to cart herself home?

This inexcusable lack of basic common sense is not unique to Janhavi Gadkar. I’ve met many people – men and women alike – who can easily afford a driver (which would cost Rs 20,000 a month, tops) or an Uber or a hotel cab. Yet these people prefer to drink themselves silly and then get behind the wheel of their fancy cars, with scant regard for what may ensue.

Many have told me it’s because they feel they can’t be drunk in front of their drivers, because after all, what will the driver think of them? Saving your image in front of your help should be secondary to the possibility that you may kill someone – a logical position that somehow eludes them. Another reason is that they don’t trust their uber-expensive cars with drivers – sober drivers, mind you.

Ok, how about getting a cab? If you don’t like the yellow-black variety, every hotel has hotel cabs which they can arrange for you. Gadkar, moreover, was drunk in Mumbai, the city with the safest public transport in the country. Surely, she would be far safer, however drunk, in a taxi than the Saboowalas were with her driving her Audi.

And it’s obviously not the cost of taxi fare, because hey, if the Saboowalas could spring for a cab, I’m sure Janhavi Gadkar could. It’s just that she didn’t feel the need to. According to Mumbai Mirror, when asked if she was okay to drive by her friend, she said, “I’ve done this before.”

Actually, Jahnavi was being entirely truthful – but not in the sense she intended.

This was not Gadkar’s first accident. A couple of days before the Saboowala tragedy, she supposedly banged her car into two BARC security guards who were riding a motorbike in Govandi. She and the guards were treated at Shatabdi Hospital. Ironically, this detail came to light when the Mumbai police took her to the same hospital following the June 9 incident and she was recognised by the hospital staff.

Guess that wasn’t enough of a wake up call for Ms Gadkar.

In her police statement, she says she had whiskey “for fun”.

“I had two pegs of Ballantine's Whisky and had dinner after that. Our total bill was around Rs 2,000. I paid the bill. Around 10 pm, we left the hotel. Then, I was in my car, alone, at Marine Drive for two hours. At midnight, I left my friends and drove away in my car. I took a U-turn from Marine Drive towards Churchgate station and then went to P D'Mello Road to take the Eastern Freeway.”

The hotel bill indicates that Gadkar had 6 pegs of whisky. And there is enough indication that she didn’t stop there. Her own statement – “left my friends” – indicates that she wasn’t alone in her car between 10:00 pm and 12:30 pm, trying to “sober up,” as she claims.

The police now claims that Gadkar went to The Irish House Pub in the Fort area. We don’t know whether she drank more at the pub, but after two celebrations, she got behind the wheel of her car and decided to drive back more than 19 kms to Chembur. As for her friends who allowed her to drive in this inebriated condition, less said the better.

Drunk driving in India is perhaps the easiest way to get away with murder, or get off lightly for it. The maximum sentence is10 years. If you have the right amount of money and know the right people, you may not even go to jail. Or if you do, and behave yourself, you’ll be let off early. Small price to pay for killing someone because you couldn’t care less to call a cab or get your driver.

In 2010, 27-year-old Nooriya Yusuf Haweliwala a beautician who lived in Colaba rammed her car into a motorbike driver and a policeman at a checkpoint, killing both. She was driving under the influence. Booked for culpable homicide not amounting to murder and rash and negligent driving, she finally got a sentence of five years simple imprisonment and a fine of Rs 5 lakh in 2012. Of the five year jail term, she spent four months in jail after which she was released on bail. Kill two people, spend two years free, and then four months in jail and dish out a few lakhs. Is it really that bad?

This love for getting behind the wheel cuts across drunk drivers – from Sanjeev Nanda to Salman Khan to Alistair Perreira. None of them have emerged the worse for wear afterwards. Nanda can be seen on Page 3, Salman is making horrible films like Bajrangi Bhaijaan which are a travesty in themselves and Perreira got 3 years in jail for killing seven and injuring 8. He’ll be out this year, so yaay to that.

All this makes life for the rest of us way more deadly. After all, what is the point of me staying sober or hiring a cab or going home in a car driven by someone sober, if some irresponsible drunken rich lout may bang into my car with his or her super-fast fancy car and kill me or cripple me for life?

The only silver lining in this case is that Salman Khan may have finally found his perfect match. After all, Mumbai Mirror, not wanting to discriminate between celebs and non-celebs, has described what a “good and hard-working kid” Janhavi is. I’d suggest that the good and hard-working drunk and homicidal drivers find solace in each other’s arms and stay off the roads.

Updated Date:

also read

Rajasthan: Six die in collision in Sirohi, 10 more killed in four other road accidents
India

Rajasthan: Six die in collision in Sirohi, 10 more killed in four other road accidents

Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot offered condolences to the bereaved family members of the deceased and wished for speedy recovery of the injured

Uttar Pradesh: Accident on Yamuna Expressway leaves five dead, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath condoles loss
India

Uttar Pradesh: Accident on Yamuna Expressway leaves five dead, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath condoles loss

Seven people were in a Bolero, which was on the way from Agra towards Noida when the car hit a dumper truck from the rear side near Jewar toll plaza

Highway to hell? Yamuna Expressway already sees 93 accidents in 2022
India

Highway to hell? Yamuna Expressway already sees 93 accidents in 2022

As per data available for 2022, till the month of April, 33 people have died and another 154 have been injured in mishaps on the 165.5 km road