We in India and we Indians, like to either play with death or we are born with a death wish! This is a very bold and blunt statement made by me. But what we read in many news items are the proof of what I am saying.
On Dussehra day around 5000 people had gathered to see the Rawan Dahan (symbolic burning of Rawan’s effigy) done every Dussehra, an old tradition of burning the evil spirits, near Amritsar in Punjab. The capacity of the ground was not more than around 400 people. All additional people decided that they must watch this show and thought that it is ok to stand on the railway track along the ground. The frequency of train movement was every ten minutes. A train came rambling down at a good speed and people elegantly avoided the train by moving to the other track. The crackers had started bursting, there was a bend on the track, one train was already passing, producing a big noise. Almost within ten seconds, another train came from the opposite direction at a speed of 80 km. As soon as the driver saw the people on the tracks, he started honking continuously; he put emergency brakes but to no avail. 59 people were crushed to death! How can one explain this? How can this happening be justified? Were these people unaware of trains passing at high speeds? Organizers were giving instructions all the time to not go on the tracks but it fell on the dumb ears of dumber people! Why did the organizers NOT stop the ceremony? Was this so important to continue with so many people on the tracks?
I do not have the statistics of different ways people get themselves killed. On Mumbai rail tracks, everyday average 10 people are killed, most of them are killed while crossing the tracks. This means every year 3600 die. I am sure a large number also get seriously injured, maybe with lifelong problems. Though these figures are known people do not stop crossing the tracks. What really is the hurry? Why not leave home a few minutes early and use overhead bridges? Do these OH bridges have the capacity to handle the crowd if nobody crosses the tracks? Do people cross tracks simply because OH bridges are overcrowded or simply because they don’t care for own lives? I am sure each person who dies such a death, has a brother, wife, husband, father and mother. As a human being is it not the right thing to follow the basic rule of going home alive? There can be accidents but what we are talking here is about a death wish. Who are these people who die? I am quite sure they must be from the cross-section of our society. But does education not teach you these basic things about living a safe life. I remember years back a classmate of mine from engineering days, a professional, died in the train accident in Mumbai. He is supposed to have fallen down from the running train. Why the hell was he standing in the door (rather hanging out)? This definitely is a capacity issue. It is so simple, the train should remain locked if all doors are not closed! This is not some rocket science.
Another death wish is special to my beloved Pune. We have a rule that we must wear helmets while riding two-wheelers! Pune’s smart people have taken so many protests meets, they have fought with authorities with the classic argument, “It is our life, who the hell are you to tell us.” Though it is your life, in many cases accidents are minor but the when you don’t wear a helmet it turns into a major event. You need hospitalization, you may become maim, a paraplegic and there are many choices. It is the business of the authorities to try and reduce the burden on health care and hospital systems which are for us. You have no right to overload them because of your stupid imbecile thinking. I know it’s your life but you have no rights to overburden us! The reasons given for not wearing helmets are naïve, to say the least. I am just riding for two minutes, I get suffocated (ventilator in a hospital is more suffocating), I cannot hear sounds properly (you cannot hear properly because you have earbuds on all the time- get them surgically removed), helmets are heavy (your head is also equally heavy- keep it home along with helmet if you have one), helmets are expensive (Oh, your life is cheap!) How reasonably large numbers in other places use helmets? What is so special about brains of Pune folks? Some organizations in Pune have made it mandatory for bike users to use a helmet while going to office; so do some families. Our friends wear the helmet when they leave home, after some distance stop, hang the helmet on a hook on the bike; stop just before reaching the office, wear the helmet and go inside (brain fade, no it’s a “no-brainer”)
Advancement in technology has helped us Indians to upgrade our methods of dying too! Yes, I am talking of selfie deaths. 25 years back when there were no cell phones in use, there could be no deaths while taking a selfie. India has become the capital of the world, for taking selfies. I am told that in a day young folks take god knows how many selfies! Why do they do it? It is ok when you buy a new cell phone, the camera is new etc. But your face hardly changes every hour and it’s the same for your friends’ faces too! Another thing is why do people make their faces crooked while taking selfies? Every couple of weeks we find new methods of achieving the “Selfie Death”! If they could use this ingenuity in doing something different, the world will be a better place. One Indian couple died recently at Yosemite in the USA. While taking selfie they fell down 800 feet in the valley. They were both engineers, travel bloggers. One week before, they had published a selfie, in their blog, taken at Grand Canyon. Their feet were dangling in the canyon, they were sitting on the age! The caption said, “Never attempt this, winds here can be so nasty, you may get swept away down the canyon”. Their death wish, of taking that last selfie when they were swept away at Yosemite was not granted by Him!
Friends, I was simply so much worked up while I read about the death of these two, I think I have just blurted out something that came to mind. I get really upset when people have no considerations for their near and dear ones, their friends, their parents. We are not alone in this world! Don’t forget that you are inflicting lifelong pain on the dear ones. If I am irritated so much about these deaths, just imagine the life of those near and dear ones after such incidents! I am praying to God that somehow, He will be able to convince these folks to go away from the death wish!