Red or Green

About Rishi Kapal

Rishi is currently the Chief Executive of EDUGILD, India’s first edtech startup accelerator and consulting Faculty with Leading Educational Institutes. He had a corporate career of 21 years in coveted roles with leading organizations namely Sony, Qualcomm, Castrol, Ericsson and Tata Lucent to name a few. Rishi has handled strategic and leadership roles in sales, marketing, business development, people management and corporate strategy. He holds a Bachelors Degree in Electronics Engineering, Degree in Law(LLB) followed by two masters degrees each from IMI New Delhi and Pune University. He is also a Performance Coach, U.N. Speaker and Author.

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In a freak accident my car had got bumped and was in the workshop! A biker decided to hit my Innova while it was waiting at a traffic signal. The service center had assured delivery in 8 days and only 4 days had gone by yet. So I was at the mercy of autos and taxis. Till now it was not such a bad experience. However, a fateful day was waiting for me to change that opinion.

I took a cab in the morning for office and dozed off the moment I slipped in. I woke up and rubbed my eyes to see where the hell we have reached. I looked outside and my eyes popped wide open, sleep disappearing instantly. We were stuck in a major traffic jam near Safdarjung Hospital. All I could see till a distance were cars, buses, trucks, cabs, autos and more cars. I asked the driver, “Where are you driving to dude, we need to go to Nehru Place(NP). Why are you in an entirely opposite area??”

He looked back and said, “Nehru Place? Sir, you sat inside and instructed me to take you to Bhikaji Cama Place(BCP). So we are now close by to BCP. If you would have said Nehru place then I would have turned that side.”

S**T, I did it again….!

I had recently changed jobs and my earlier office was at BCP. While driving myself as well, I had been headed to BCP a few times and then took a route correction to go to NP. I couldn’t believe that I gave out wrong instructions to the cab driver also. Anyhow, poor chap, he was in stuck in the wrong place because of me and not the other way round.

I asked him to usher towards NP, for which we would have to take a U turn. We managed to do that in 20 minutes and took another hour to hit office. I was late and couldn’t help it. God has always given me signals in advance to warn about how the day would be but I have always turned a blind eye.

Today was going to be one of those days. It was 7PM and I was through for the day. I asked the reception desk to get me a cab. I got a call from reception after 20 minutes that cab is not available and radio taxi’s waiting time is 40 minutes. Well, I decided to walk down myself and hire a cab from the road. I left the office building, walked towards the road side and started waiting. Well, actually all cabs were full and after a long wait I realized that an empty auto rickshaw was standing close by. It was dark already. I didn’t want to waste more time standing around.

I approached an auto rickshaw and asked him if he would take me to my destination. He looked at me, kept silent for a bit, then mumbled something counting on his figures and nodded his head. Now don’t forget his mumbling and counting; those were the signals I should have picked. I sat inside and he manoeuvred the auto at such pace that I was thrown to one side and could also feel that one of the side wheels of the auto lifted up momentarily. Anyhow, we were now in the middle of the road and the auto was moving ahead, bestowing ample jerks. All I wanted was the auto should not breaking down and it must take me home quickly. The auto driver was somehow overtly cautious and suddenly applied brakes on the first traffic signal. We are about to be hit by a jeep behind, since it was a green signal. In a few seconds the auto moved ahead. We crossed the signal and things started looking up. I closed my eyes for a bit since this was going to be a 20-25minutes drive. Alas, my estimates were so very wrong. The guy was driving cautiously and then suddenly he jumped the next signal. It was RED. Our auto was in the middle of the signal with vehicles coming from both sides. It seemed we will be sandwiched in no time. People started throwing abuses, the auto driver sheepishly came out and started pushing the auto, with me inside, backwards. I am not a feather-light physique and realised how tough it was getting for the driver to push back. So I got down and helped him, during which my bag fell on the floor of the auto with most of the stuff thrown out. I had forgotten to zip the bag. So half of the stuff was inside and half on the road!

Imagine my plight where the auto driver was desperate to push back and I was collecting my goods from the road. Finally, the ordeal ended. I gained my composure and sat inside the auto. Our signal was green and the auto driver was sitting idle, sweating and drinking water. The vehicles stuck behind our auto started hurling abuses and I told the driver, “Hey, the signal has turned green, why are you not moving ahead?”

He merely said, “Oh” and started driving. Something was just not right there. He would go slow at some signals, land in the middle of a red signal, act very nervous and I was equally lost. Finally I asked him, “What’s your problem?” He sheepishly looked at me and said, “Sir, I can’t differentiate between red and green colour. Doctor says I am Colour Blind.”


I was speechless after hearing the auto driver’s last sentence. Colour Blind! Can’t distinguish between red and green? So he would not know whether to stop at the signal or go in the midst of heavy traffic as there was no other way for him to know whether the signal was red or green. I was aghast. Why do such things happen only with me? I could have died in an accident because the auto driver just wanted to be on the road and break all signals. Well, I asked him to halt on the side, buying some time to think with clarity.

Finally, I took a deep breath and asked him to drive slow, easy and assured that before every signal I will let him know when to stop or proceed. The driver readily agreed as if he was waiting for this duty to come my way. “Thank you sir, please let me know the colour at the signal in time. Else I won’t know whether to apply brakes or hit the accelerator.” He said gladly. From then onwards, half my face was outside the auto to check the signal from enough distance. I kept on telling him to drive slow, stop, go, wait, on the basis of the colour at the signal. What a joke! Eventually we covered a journey of 11kms in an hour and I was much relieved to reach our locality. I dropped off and advised him to get proper treatment. He replied, “Sir, mostly I get helpful passengers like you. Sometimes ladies start shouting and shrieking but for most times I am able to manage.”

Well, this was my first encounter with someone suffering from red-green colour blindness. I kind of pitied the guy but then it was my life as well at stake. Till date, whenever I sit into an auto, there is a suspicion running in my mind whether the guy can see the right colors or no.


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