Mean Streets

He won't admit it, but Nadarajah Shan-Mugam's vanity saved his life. The 49-year-old Malaysian handyman was riding his motorbike to work in Kuala Lumpur one morning last year when an irritating drizzle suddenly billowed into a blinding tropical downpour. Spotting a flyover a few hundred meters ahead on the highway, Raja raced for shelter. A dozen fellow bikers were there already. As three lanes of rush-hour traffic continued to roar past, more bikers squeezed in, huddling together and turning their backs to the windblown rain and the heavy spray from passing vehicles. Raja lit a cigarette, then tilted one of his...