27 November, 2005

Holidays and afterwards (3)

Few things troubled my mind during my holidays in Chennai. The traffic, roads, rain, health care, discipline, and people. I wanted to enquire about the charges for sea mail and started walking towards the post office near Habibullah Road, North Usman Road, T Nagar. I walked casually until Habibullah road, trying to notice down something unusual. Nothing was happening in order. There was chaos everywhere. A rich man stops his car in the middle of the road, without worrying about the Traffic users and so many other things. But when I had to cross the road, which was just 50-60 feet wide, I started struggling. This is just because of having been disciplined in abroad and forgot the road ethics of Chennai Managaram. I stood there for 15 minutes and still there were no signs of the traffic stopping. In the meanwhile, I noticed atleast 20 people would have crossed from my side. I lost all my talents of crossing the road. I found a old lady in her mid 60's waiting to cross the road. She was beside me and I murmered that I have been waiting for long and how risky it is. She never showed any attention towards me though I became more cautious about her than me. At one point, I was about to grab her hand and pull her when an Auto just missed her. Somehow while safeguarding her and crossing, a motorcyclist was there with a pillion rider and were talking loud over the mobile and did not bother about her and suddenly after coming near her did a twist like stunt in the movie and passed us. After crossing the road I noticed the lady entering Post Office along with me. Inspite of my repeated grumbling about the traffic, she did not respond and later found she was deaf when she was talking with a staff across the counter in the Post Office. It shocked me. Oh..... was this the reason she could not respond to whatever I grumbled when we were crossing. If she could not hear me how she could have heard the traffic. Suddenly she walked towards me and sought my help in filling up a Money Order form. I started filling it up. After I filled the form for Rs250/- and handed over the form to her, I noticed tears rolling down on the lady's cheek. She told while sobbing that the recipient is none other than her mom. Somehow I could not tell anything. Definitely the other lady must be in her late 80's or early 90's waiting for the postman everyday for this money. How much of strain this lady has taken to send this MO to her Mom. She would have been narrowly hit by vehicles while crossing. I would have not preferred my mother to do this job at that age. Her tears meant a lot to me. I wondered and asked her to take care of herself while crossing. This was only one old lady whom I met within 20 minutes of being on the road, in one part of a huge road. How many old persons would be crossing like this for different reasons in this kind of traffic, where there is no safety measures, like Zebra crossing, Pedestrian Crossing or Signal. I tried to locate any of these safety measures while crossing back and I could not find anything on this busy road. I did not want to do any permutations and combinations but I understood the city is developing, but not for good. There is no balance in the developments. Common public is not safe.

While thinking about such things in life and reading a newspaper in the balcony I noticed a Fruit vendor with his son selling fruits. My cousin said that they are Father and son and though the son was in his mid 20's, never co-operated with his father and has to learn lot in the business. I was watching them quarelling while selling fruits. The father was always criticising his son. Suddenly I noticed the father walking towards a shade and sitting down. My cousin asked whether he was not feeling well. He said he was tired. My cousin went inside to prepare a cup of coffee. I saw him vomiting suddenly and shrinking on the road. I told the son to take care of him and rushed towards the fridge to take a glass of water. Suddenly I heard the son crying loudly..... aiyo...aiyo...aiyo... I rushed towards them. Within minutes there were few people around us. We handled the situation calmly and helped the elder man to lie down comfortably. We enquired whether he has had any problem before. He told me that he is a heart patient and had tablets in his pocket. I found that he had sweat and suspected it to be a heart attack. We called an auto and tried to convince the fruit vendor to visit the nearest hospital. For few minutes, he was reluctant to go and was adamant to continue his business. The son new nothing and was just crying. I had to force both of them to visit a Doctor immediately. We pushed their fruit cart inside my cousin's house and asked them not to worry about the fruits. My nephew called the nearest Doctor immediately and informed him about the arrival of this patient. The Doctor who happened to be a cardiologist was ready to receive him. All this took more than 45 minutes. Anything could have happened. Later we heard that there was nothing serious and the elder man was asked to take rest. We saw the son doing the business for the next few days and said that he will be taking his Dad to his home town for Diwali and come back later. After two weeks I saw the Father and son strolling with their Fruit cart again and quarelling with each other during their business. On seeing me he thanked for my help. I enquired about his welfare. What I could wonder is about the public health system that prevails in our place. Those 45 minutes were crucial. He was lucky that nothing serious had happened. Whatabout millions of people in the country. What is the emergency medical care? When will all such thing come. Most of them are ignorant about their health. If we had not forced, he would have continued his business without seeing the Doctor. People talk about developments happening in the city/country. Where .... Where....?

When you walk in Chennai roads, you are sure of being greeted by one person every few minutes, with this question...." Sir.... Yenga sir poganum...?". He is none other than our Auto driver. They never allow you to walk. I even joked with few of them...."Yenga...naanga roadla nadanthu pogavey koodatha.... Udaney auto-vai niruthi yenga sir poganummnnu ketakareenga...Yennakku poganummnu than thonradhu ....aanal yenga poganummmnu theriyalaiye..?" (Shivaji Ganesan, Gowram Style). One morning when I wanted to visit the Visa office at Egmore, it was tough to get an Auto. None of them was prepared to come. Suddenly there was a nice gentleman who stopped his Auto and took me without asking. I just told him "WCC.." hoping that he may not know UK Visa office. He asked whether it was to UK Visa office. I was surprised. Later he found that I am in abroad and enquired whether he will get any chance in his future births to visit any foreign country. I started my humble talk to him..... motivating him, that it is not impossible even in this birth. Suddenly he came to the topic, and cursed for Love marriages. I could not understand. He said that due to Love marriage he was in a difficult position. His wife has been admitted in a Hospital, with complicate delivery, and he has been driving Auto like mad without taking a break even the previous night, to earn Rs.3000/- to pay the hospital fees for his wife's delivery. I encouraged him to be bold and he will surely succeed in his life. He showed his fingers which reflected the signs of tiredness of holding the clutch. He wanted to note down my phone number and thank me once his wife delivers safely. I just wished him good luck deep from my heart. He started conversing in very good English, about his fate and family. Because he married against his parents wish, he could not go to them for help at this time. He hesitatingly asked whether I could help financially. Probably he found me too friendly. He was ready to take me to the hospital and show his wife. I did not have time. He wanted to touch my feet while getting down from the Auto. I told him not to do so. I started doubting for his behaviour. But still I decided not to go to great extent to help him since I could not afford to. The maximum I could do was donate him 150% more than what I was about to pay for the trip. He was very happy with that and thanked a lot and drove away. I had a doubt whether he conned me. But if he had done so, I cannot do anything. He will reap what he sows. I just carried my business, by not worrying too much and felt happy that I could do something to someone with good intentions.

Finally when I said bye to all friends and relatives and went back alone to the airport after completing the formalities, started thinking about my holidays in the waiting lounge..... Great experiences, heavy rain, flood, people,traffic, Diwali, Noise pollution in West Mambalam, Mambalam Mosquitoes, Mobile phone nuisance. There was announcement for my flight, and I walked towards my plane........ thinking of the best of all 'The bloggers meet' in Chennai... and all the other bloggers. My next meeting will be more lengthier... Who knows I may land in one of our blogger's house. Let us blog.......regularly.


Sundar Narayanan said...

india poi romba naal aachu pola irukke.. you can measure the time between your last india trip by the time it takes you to cross the road the first time.

under 5 minutes - you visited <2yrs ago
under 10 mins - you visited 3 years ago
more than 15 mins - you havent been there in more than 4 years.

adhu oru exponential curve..

Jeevan said...

That is our people, they know how to cross the road. In chennai at least 5 people are killed in road accident every day. What a lady, she is 60, send money to her mom!!

Wow! Well said, we are just talking about our country develpment, not involving in it. Helping a fruit vendor, simple you are amazing. I am very proud, that I have a friend like u. where every u go, u are making Friends.

You have a great experience in chennai. I think because of u r arrival to chennai, the rain god has given us much water. Please u come every year on rainy season, so we will get much rain.

Ram Viswanathan said...


Hope you had safe trip back home..

Being a pedestrian is one of the toughest jobs on the Chennai roads. One has to be really "brave" and have lots of patience

Dubukku said...

Hi Balaji,
welcome back to the UK. Glad that you enjoyed and have lots to relish about in memories.

Nice account

Premalatha said...

Hi Balaji,

You have a very nice blog. :)

kichami said...

Dear Balaji: Namascars.Very intersting narration of "CHENNAI TO-DAY".Besides all that U have mentioned about like traffic health etc etc It is the attitude that is more worrying.Ram Viswnathan hit the nail on the head when he said about the plight of pedestrians.For long years(even now,as I am 75)I make a point to go to Kapaaleeswarar temple,Kesava perumal temple,Music academy and Naratha gana Sabha only by walk.It is not only the dangers lurking due to man made causes,but the way they sneer at U especially if U look old enough with epithets like'Ee Perisu veetile sollikinu vandutita'-'Kasmaalam''Kannu thriyalaya'.If I point out he driver or even vehicle owner that he has erred and not following the road discipline pat comes the answer'Enna lecture adikkiraya udambu punnairappovudu.It is this attitude that is worrying me added with absolute indifferane on the part of all agencies including Govt
I am sorry I bored U.All the best

Balaji S Rajan said...

Sundarji... India poi romba naal agalai. Once in a year I see to that I visit India. Every time, I visit I find the traffic volume has increased. But no extra care. Are not the oldies entitled to do what they want. It was funny to see lots of small parks among concrete buildings and people walking in those parks were looking like 'Robots' for me. Atleast for few feet they could walk without any traffic problem. It is very disgusting to see the way Government functions. Also the attitude of the people have to change.

Jeevan... Imagine people like you crossing road. As I was discussing in your house there are so much of privileges for Old and young people in these developed worlds. Jeevan... there should be millions of people like me in abroad, wanting to help our people, but helpless. I feel guilty at times, whether I am enjoying when my people are suffering at home. It is only those feelings which made me to write.

Ram - Yes... you need to be brave not only to cross. If that old lady had been hit by a motorist, everyone of the relatives would have said " Avalukku avvalavu than thalaiyula aandavan ezhuthi irukkan.." Nobody would have thought it could have been avoided. What I wanted to highlight is the 'Don't care attitude" of our public.

Dubukku - Thanks for your visit. Yes I am back from holidays. Your Tamil blogs are very humorous. Why can't you write for some magazines.

Premalatha - Thanks for your comments and visiting my blog. I missed you all during your Deepavalli meeting. Let us hope to meet in the future.

Mr.Kichami - Sir... Thanks for taking time to read my blog. On behalf of every single irresponsible Citizen of our country I apologise for the ugly things that have happened to you while you walk on the road. Even when I lived in India, I have volunteered in talking for those walking on the road, and have had enough quarrel. As you said, some of them have taken it against, and have tried to abuse me back for talking justice. Thank god.. for the natural physique I have, many have been afraid and have gone back when I have chased them. But we cannot be policing everywhere by taking more avathars. It is a shame that senior citizens, like you and millions of elders, could not enjoy walking on the road. I found some pavements in chennai, where you need to use ladder. It was really distressing to see that. You have said very well about the live condition. I feel very pity Sir... Avargalai manniyungal... I shall strive to do something for our older generation through my blogs... Keep in touch sir. We need your guidance in many ways.

Narayanan Venkitu said...

First 2 polambals, very true...Wondering what is Vatsan's comment for this.!!

I feel sad/scared about traffic in India.!! Nobody cares...they just swerve around people , aaadu, maadu, naai etc..and people manage to live.!! Very scary.!!

Second about the public health. We see this in a lot of movies.! I wish the situation improves.!

The auto driver might have be a genuine guy...who knows.!! I am glad you helped him a little.!! Nice work.!!

Time flies..before long you'll be in Chennai again.!! Until then..enjoy your winter in UK !!

Narayanan Venkitu said...

Sad to read Partha Sir's comment. I absolutely hate the word 'Perisu' etc.! A***S whoever introduced these terms.!

Balaji S Rajan said...

Narayanan you are right. I thought about you many times when I was crossing the road. I pity our people ...