Bodyguard (55 Fiction)

A funny thing happened on my way to work today.

There were huge crowds outside all schools.

On enquiring, I was told that, since all parents had signed forms saying that the schools and their staff are not responsible for the safety of students, almost all parents had sent a personal bodyguard with each child.

This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda. (Prompt: Include this line in your post: ‘A funny thing happened on my way to….’)

When victims of an unfair system become perpetrators of corruption

I am re-posting, with a few changes, Not my problem?, which was my first blog post, originally posted on June 15, 2013. The incident described took place a couple of decades back.

My neighbours had 2 children: a 12-year-old daughter and a 9-year-old son. All the neighbours observed that only the son was regularly treated to goodies like chocolates and ice-creams by his parents. The daughter never got such goodies. This was blatant discrimination, but none of the neighbours was close enough to the parents to raise the subject with them.

I was puzzled by the fact that the daughter, who was only 12 years old, never seemed to be perturbed about being denied the goodies that her brother enjoyed. The mystery was solved when I learnt that, whenever she was sent to buy provisions from the neighbourhood grocer, he ‘over-invoiced’ (for those who don’t know, this means he prepared a bill for a higher amount) and passed on the over-invoiced amount to her. She would use these amounts to buy goodies without her parents’ knowledge.

An underprivileged person had decided not to accept the unfairness of the system. She used ‘unfair means’ to compensate for the system’s unfairness, but she probably had no option. It was sad that her own parents had unwittingly led her to dishonesty.

There are many persons who do not have access to all or some of the basic necessities of life only because they happen to have been born in an underprivileged family. Wouldn’t such persons want to acquire those basic necessities? If they cannot acquire those basic necessities by fair means, wouldn’t they be tempted (perhaps compelled) to resort to ‘unfair

A person who has successfully achieved something by ‘unfair means’ once would be tempted to do it again, leading to some more such episodes, ultimately resulting in corruption becoming a habit.

How do privileged people like us (yes, we are privileged people!) react when we come across persons who do not have access to all or some of the basic necessities of life only because they happen to have been born in an underprivileged family? Do we try to do something about it, or are we indifferent since we are not directly affected?

We may not be affected by the suffering of today’s underprivileged person. But we certainly could be affected by the corruption or any other crime that today’s underprivileged person is pushed into. If, by helping an underprivileged person, we prevent that person from being pushed into corruption or crime, we are not just helping that person; we are helping ourselves and society at large.

Helping patients survive heart attacks and other medical emergencies

Please spend a few minutes to view the video

In a case shown in the video, a patient in India, who had suffered a heart attack, died because the ambulance reached him very late.

The ambulance reached late because:
1. A private vehicle was parked in the hospital in such a manner that the ambulance was blocked.
2. On the road from the hospital to the patient, many drivers did not give way to the ambulance.

The video asks a pertinent question: “Who is responsible for his death? The law, the police or us?”

The video also shows how vehicle drivers in an unidentified foreign country give ‘Right of way’ to ambulances.

In the video, the driver of the ambulance in India says that, if people in India give ‘Right of way’ to ambulances, many more patients suffering from a heart attack or a life threatening injury can be saved. He says that many people in India do not give ‘Right of way’ to ambulances because they don’t know the value of somebody else’s life. He adds that these people will realize the value of life only when they or their dear ones are the dying patient in the ambulance.

The video states that we must change ourselves. Whenever a person driving a vehicle hears the siren of an ambulance or any other emergency vehicle, (s)he should give ‘Right of way’ to the ambulance or emergency vehicle by moving the vehicle to the left and bringing it to a complete stop.

I have myself seen how ambulances get held up in traffic because other vehicles do not give them ‘Right of way’. However, I do not completely agree with the view, expressed by the ambulance driver, that this is only because people in India don’t know the value of somebody else’s life. I believe that:

1. In general, in India, human life is not given the importance it deserves. Most people realize the value of human life only after they or one of their dear ones face a life-threatening situation.

2. People do not realize that the chance of survival of a person suffering a heart attack or a life-threatening injury reduces drastically by the minute, if not by the second.

3. Most vehicle drivers in India do not know exactly how they should respond when they hear the siren of an ambulance or any other emergency vehicle.

4. Often, in dense traffic during peak hours in big cities, the siren of an ambulance is not loud enough. It is heard only when the ambulance is only a few vehicles behind. This gives vehicle drivers less time to react.

To ensure that ambulances reach patients in the shortest possible time, I suggest:

a. Each one of us must give every human life the importance it deserves. The government and the media have an important role here. Normally, an accident or event that results in a few dozen deaths is treated as a tragedy. Henceforth, even if only one life is lost in an accident or event, it should be treated as a tragedy.

b. People should be made aware of the extreme importance of an ambulance reaching a person suffering a heart attack or a life-threatening injury in time.

c. It should be mandatory for hospitals to have proper parking space with easy access for all ambulances. Other vehicles should not be allowed to be parked in any manner that blocks the ambulance.

d. Vehicle drivers should be instructed how to give ‘Right of way’ to an ambulance or any other emergency vehicle as soon as the siren is heard.

e. Ambulances should have loud sirens that are easily audible above the noise of dense traffic during peak hours.

Do you have any other suggestions?

India through the eyes of a child

Vyas, my nephew, is 9 years old, lives in USA with his parents, and is currently on his second visit to India. When he heard that I blog, he was all excitement! He read a couple of my posts and declared that he was privileged to be related to a blogger! I told him it was no big deal, and asked him if he would like to write a Guest Post. At first he thought I was pulling his leg, but when he realized I was serious, he was in seventh heaven!

As requested by me, Vyas has listed the things he likes about India and the things he doesn’t like about India. Each list starts with the thing he likes/dislikes the most. The matter has been written by him without any prompting from anybody. I have edited the matter slightly and have published the final draft approved by him and his parents.

Things I like about India

1. I have many more relatives in India than in the US.

2. The awesome food: mangoes, pineapples, fish, …

3. The people are more jovial, and laugh a lot more than in the US.

4. I had thought India is not as technologically advanced as the US, but I see technology in India is just as advanced as in the US. People use the same cellphones, laptops and tablets and also the same apps.

5. The view: more nature, more people, more different kinds of buildings; the urban, suburban and rural areas seem to co-exist in one place.

6. The currency: all notes have Gandhi’s picture on them. Different value notes have different colors and sizes, so it’s easy for a visitor to India. (US currency notes are all of the same size and color. There is a different President’s picture for different values. This is difficult for a visitor to the US.)

7. Ceiling fans are available everywhere. They are found in the US also, but in very few places.

8. The way things go on in India: no seat belts, children can sit on the front seat, no booster seats …

9. Billboards are seen everywhere; in the US, they are seen only in big cities.

Things I don’t like about India

1. People call me a baby! Some people even pinch my cheeks!!

2. Too many mosquitoes, cockroaches, spiders

3. Frequent power outs. In the US, I’ve experienced only one power out. This was for a couple of days during Hurricane Sandy.

4. Bumpy roads, which cause motion sickness.

5. Traffic is too slow in the cities. There are frequent traffic jams and too much honking.

6. The heat: I wish it wasn’t so much. It makes going out in the daytime difficult.

7. Too much rain during the monsoon.

Finally, if I had to choose between 10 million dollars and going to India 10 times in the next 10 years, I would choose going to India 10 times in the next 10 years.

What would YOU choose?

I hope you enjoyed reading Vyas’ Guest Post. Please post your comments and your questions to Vyas.

Free advice

A friend’s elderly mother’s health took a turn for the worse about a year back, resulting in her being completely bed-ridden. A nurse was engaged to be at their house for most part of the day to take care of her. In addition, all the immediate family members took part, each in her/his own way, in looking after the elderly mother. To start with, the family’s day-to-day life was disrupted, but they all made the necessary adjustments, and they soon settled into new daily routines.

The mother’s illness was not communicable. Other than the persons living in the house, nobody was affected in any practical way by the fact that there was a bed-ridden patient in the house.

One day, our friend’s neighbor, a young lady in her mid-twenties, who had moved into the apartment complex with her husband a few months earlier, told our friend in so many words that, instead of being taken care of at home, it would be in the interest of all concerned if the elderly patient was shifted to an institution where she could be under full-time professional care.

The young lady was not a doctor and not a healthcare professional. On being asked whether she or anybody else was inconvenienced in any way by our friend’s mother’s illness, the young lady replied in the negative, and added that she was offering the advice only out of concern for our friend’s family.

A few decades back, drinking water was available free of cost; now, it has to be purchased.
A few decades back, clean and unpolluted air was available free of cost; now, it is just not available.

The only thing that’s still available in plenty and is still free of cost is unsolicited, ‘well-meant’ advice from persons on matters in which they have little or no stake, and about which they have little or no knowledge!

How often do you receive free, unsolicited, ‘well-meant’ advice? How do you handle it?

More importantly, do you give free, unsolicited, ‘well-meant’ advice?