A dash of Pepper…

…with a splash of Mint

The two extremes

Posted by Pepper on October 21, 2010

I was at the bookstore today, and there were two other desis standing within earshot. Going by their accents, I assume they were ABCDs (American Born Confused Desis). I caught a few bits of their conversation.

ABCD 1: Yes, I don’t know how Indians travel in those autos. Those auto rikshaws are nothing but metal boxes which are open on both ends. It is just so unsafe. And with their kinda erratic traffic… Gosh!
ABCD 2: And imagine, they don’t even use any seat belts while travelling in those open metal boxes. I’d be so scared all the time.
I looked around to see if the books around me were in place, because I was sure my inward cries of horror were loud enough to rock the entire book store and knock the books off their oscillating shelves. Auto rikhaws are metal boxes? They are unsafe? Need seat belts? Should I laugh or cry? Hey Bhagwaan, what kinda place do I live in? Why are people in this country so paranoid? I still cringe when I think of it.
This brings me to the topic of safety regulations in both the countries. It is something Mint and I often argue about. One of the reasons he does not want to move back to India is cos of the lack of safety regulations. He says they do not value human life in India. Heck, they don’t value any life, human or not. I do agree with him to an extent. Our country shows complete disregard to any kind of safety law, which is the cause of a lot of accidents. Bridges and buildings collapse because builders do not use adequate safety measures, citizens get run over, kids fall off faultily built ledges in restaurants, planes crash while landing on unsafe runways, the list can go on. To add to it, we also have to face the numerous terror attacks. But we’ve all learnt to live with the chaos and the insecurity. Mint does not think it is worth it. Anyway, I do wish India would implement some kind of safety laws, and most importantly, adhere to those laws and make the country a safer place to live in.
While I genuinely appreciate the safety measures taken in the US, I also think they go overboard and instill paranoia in you. For example, I appreciate the speed limits, the use of seat belts, etc. I am not too sure about the strict laws concerning the use of child booster seats that have separate parameters for height, weight and age of the child. I think that is going a little too far. Or perhaps I just grew up in a very different way. Or the fact that most houses do not have a gas stove and only use electric plates because they are so worried about fire hazards that come with the use of a flame. I think a lot of these ways take away the joy of living to an extent. How can I expect these ABCDs to be free spirited individuals who enjoy auto rides while feeling the rush of the wind when they are brought up in such an environment?
Do I have a point to make? Perhaps not. I just think both the countries are a little extreme and it would do them good to adopt a more balanced approach.
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14 Responses to “The two extremes”

  1. Scribbler said

    I think you partially have a point there…a mix of both basically..too much care that side and this side of the earth may be not very much carefulness ..so that's what makes those ABCD types more confused and paranoid 😉

  2. ummm…1 billion ppl alive and kicking…some 30% of that alive and kicking and telling us about safety…Hmmmph amrikaan's.!But on a serious note…i feel irrespective of where u are, ppl no more value life…look at the campus shoot outs in US, similar stupid incidents of road rage in India – no one values life!

  3. I agree with Nuttie… nobody values human life anymore… its pathetic and disgusting, that we live in a mercenary and shallow world.Btw, I too think of how 'unsafe' India is… but you know, when I walk through the streets in Chennai or any city for that matter, I realise that with our sort of population… what ever can the Govt. do?!!!Install video cameras? Where all? We don't even have sufficient lighting on the roads at night!!!With the crowds that we have in India, people milling around… there is NOTHING we can do to ensure 'safety'.Except, perhaps… keep all our 10 fingers crossed, if that was possible!

  4. Pepper said

    Nu: Yes, I think a mix of both would work perfectly :)Nuttie: People do not value life on the whole, but I am not talking about terror attacks. I was referring to the safety laws that concern every day life – they have way too many in USA, and too few in India. Pallavi: I do think the Govt. of India can be less callous. Of course it is not feasible to have cameras everywhere. But I am talking about safety at a more basic level. Example – they can have constructions that are safe, without letting corruption getting in the way.I think the Govt. does take measures only after the country has been struck by some tragedy, accident or calamity. That however, makes another post.

  5. ajay said

    You've made a good point. Our disregard for safety measures borders on being callous and unacceptable even. Apart from corruption, a huge population is a daunting problem. I only wish India to be clean and organized country some day. On a lighter note, did you coin the term ABCD? It's hilarious 😀 Btw, you've got a nice blog 🙂

  6. Pepper said

    Ajay: Thank you and welcome here. I wish I could take credit, but no, I didn't coin the term ABCD. It is quite a common term in this part of the world 🙂

  7. I think there are rules..and then there is following of rules.Seat belts are a law in India now, but they are not used very frequently. So it is not only about the rules but ensuring that the rules are followed, no paying money to the cop involved.Carseats, now as a parent who has her kid in carseat, I think they are a blessing. When I am driving in peak hour traffic with a screaming toddler in my car and have to navigate around at 60 miles/hr plus speed, I can't be thankful enough for them to keep the kid in place. One less thing to worry about. There are some basic rules for car seats, but honestly I think the manufactures and us the parents are the ones who make the most fuss about them in the name of selling them and researching for them in the two cases.But as a whole, what we think is fun and safe and what that means for someone else is based on the environment each of us grew up in. I for one love an auto 🙂

  8. Pepper said

    Comfy: Totally agree with you! When I said India doesn't have sufficient safety laws, I meant laws that have been successfully implemented. Having them written in legal documents is of no use.I probably picked the wrong example by talking about car seats for kids. When I hear a parent's perspective, I do realise what a boon they are. But on the whole, I think people in the US lead curtailed lives, and so are completely risk averse and paranoid, which does snatch away the joy, to a small extent.Yes, definitions of 'fun' and 'safe' are very much based on the environment you grew up in. My own upbringing makes me feel this environment is a little restrictive.

  9. Smitha said

    Well, I would agree with you that both worlds could do with a little moderation. Although I have to say that I never thought twice before jumping into an Auto before, now after becoming a mother, I am not too comfortable taking daughter in an auto with me 😦 Guess safety worries creep in when you have a little someone to worry about. And the reason, we don't think about these things in India are 1. We don't have an option. An auto is the easiest way to reach another place.2. The speeds at which traffic travels in India are far lesser. For instance, here, at 60/70 mph, I would not even dream of not wearing a seat belt.3. Safety awareness. Here, in the UK, there are so many campaigns about safe driving, safe car seats, etc that we get aware of the dangers involved. In India, these things are never higlighted by the govt, so we never think twice about them.. So sorry – went on a ramble 😦

  10. Pepper said

    Smitha: I love rambles :).I agree with your reasons, and that is exactly why I said India needs to have more regard for safety. Even though we don't drive at high speed on Indian roads, seat belts should still be the norm. They're known to save lives. About autos, I don't know. I can't get myself to think of them as unsafe, but then, I am not a mom 🙂

  11. I totally agree with. To a limit..its all fine..But these ppl panic at everything. In other words..they are so used to the comforts of living that even a minor change can blow them away. I had seen an end lane cleanup on the free way once. There were three police cars behind this cleanup truck. Sigh.Anywy, hope people in India (i.e us) gain some common sense and respect for others..That would solve most of the problems.

  12. Pepper said

    DOR: You summed it up perfectly. That is exactly what I meant – people in this country panic at the drop of a hat. And yeah, lets hope India awakens soon 🙂

  13. roop said

    i'll have to disagree here. perhaps because i am an abcd. 😉 i don't think there is any extremity in being safe. i don't have any problems traveling in autos in india either. i do that when i am there, but that works for there considering the speeds they travel there at is minimal compared to here in US. if we were to travel without seat belts and without appropriate booster seats for kids at the speeds we travel at in US, accidents would more often than not result in fatalities. different situations call for different measures. both systems are working just fine in their given situations. can't compare one to other. u can feel that air in face with seatbelts on and the roof of your convertible down too … and at a much more exhilarating higher speed than in any auto in India. and of course, the air is cleaner too in comparison. 😉 so yes, we can keep making comparisons … but there is no point to it. both societies work in ways that keep them stable. stability as an end result is the law of nature in every free society. 🙂

  14. Pepper said

    Roop: I don't know if you realise the extent to which I support the use of seatbelts. That was never an argument. I said that in the beginning of the post itself, that is one of the things I appreciate the most.I don't think I'll agree with you when you say that both the systems are working fine. Perhaps the American system is, if you compromise on a few seemingly insignificant things. The Indian system is definitely not. Everyday there are thousands of accidents and fatalities that are reported and a million others that go unreported. The speeds are low, but people drive dangerously. Indian safety laws do need to be more substantial, and yes effective too. The point of the post was not to compare. It was more about my experience dealing with such different and extreme worlds 🙂

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