As I read the news of a fatal accident involving a 6 year old girl (Shruti), I couldn’t believe what I was reading. A big hole on the floor of a school van, big enough for the little girl to fall through and for the van to run over the girl is not acceptable. It has taken this innocent girl’s death for the authorities to conduct a series of checks on school buses of all sizes and shapes. Now we hear that the schools bus owners are being harassed by corrupt officials. Let us not go there for now. While this Shruti incident is sad, I hope this is the last time we hear about such an incident ever again.
Today, on my way to office, when I got an official call that I had to answer, and my Bluetooth didn’t work, I decided to park the car on the side and answer the phone. Next to where I parked, on the footpath, was a manhole, about 3-4 ft diameter, that was about 20% open. Yes, part of it was uncovered! The manhole cover was broken … probably broken isn’t even the right word to use here. The manhole was so old, that it seemed like a significant portion of it had corroded or eroded. Whatever the right term, the 20% open area was big enough for anybody and definitely a child or a pet to fall through. But people kept crossing it, some skillfully jumping over it while sending a sms and others simply looking below to see how deep the hole was. This one is right opposite Ascendas / TICEL.
As I finished my call and drove away, another incident came to my mind that has been disturbing me for the last month or so. While I was driving towards Navalur on the busy OMR, I saw a crowd watching a gang war of sorts. Basically there was one Dada type guy who had a couple of sidekicks standing behind him. There was a man lying on the road, probably dead. Another man who seemed to the dead man’s friend or accomplice stood outnumbered by this rival gang. The rowdy used his elbow to hit the helpless guy (who was pleading and was already beaten up quite badly) on his face. The man shook a little, unable to stand still and fell on his back almost in slow motion. It was clear that he was about to die unless the cops arrived on the scene and (not or, but and!) the ambulance picked this guy up. I drove past wondering what the crowd was up to and how they could watch so quietly. I was and am not aware of the details, but such an incident in the middle of a road like OMR has left me very disturbed. The next day’s papers didn’t carry details.
Why am I writing this now, you may wonder?
Some years ago, my friend and I had gone to have coffee at about 6 am at Malleswaram, Bangalore when we witnessed a gory accident. A guard lost both his legs as a lorry driver did not notice him when he was reversing his truck. In no time, a crowd gathered around the poor guy who was screaming for help. I immediately called the ambulance and while that scene hasn’t been erased from my memory and never will, at least I made a difference by calling the ambulance instead of watching him lose consciousness. I dialed the police too without fearing about consequences.
In 2 of the first 3 cases I described above, I regret my own actions. Expecting others to behave differently without looking at what I could have done and did not do – that realization hit me hard and I have been feeling miserable since. Life goes on, we get busier in our own worlds, and our definition of ‘OUR world’ gets narrower and narrower …. But unless we do something about the world around us, we do not have the right to expect others to do something about it. And expecting the babus to take care of your needs because you are an honest tax payer is a right expectation but only leads to never ending arguments. At least, I have made up my mind to not sit quietly the next time I see something that’s not right.
Also, if possible, take up a cause and champion it. Maybe a Shruthi could have been saved. I could have dialed the cops / ambulance when I was at OMR.
I am going to do my bit by targeting against driving on the wrong side. If you have suggestions on what to do, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org
To start with, If YOU CAN PLEASE send me pictures of bikes / cars that are driven on the wrong side, please mail me. I plan to load those pictures on a different site as the start of this ‘Drive on the Right Side’ campaign. More details on that in a while …