Wednesday, August 17, 2011

An Accident in Bangalore... and the need for "Contacts" to survive Bangalore

A couple I know were travelling by car on the Hebbal road. All of a sudden, a motorbike hit their rear and the biker and his companion fell of their bikes on the road. The couple got out and asked if the two were okay when their nightmare started!

The bikers, who were speeding and rammed into their car, from behind, started verbally abusing the couple and they were immediately supported by people on the road, none of whom had witnessed what happened. A police man was around, quickly came and took the report, as told by the bikers and did not heed the words of the couple in the car. The couple were so terrified by the hostile crowd outside the car,that they agreed to take the bikers to the nearby hospital and pay for the treatment.

The bikers started demanding to be taken to an expensive hospital (Columbia Asia hospital) and did not want to go to Baptist hospital, nearby. They relented only when the couple refused to pay for their treatment in Columbia.

The couple’s car was taken by the police and they were asked to pay a fine of 2000 rupees. No assessment of the accident was done, their side of the story was never heard and they were in fact told by the police that they were lucky to not be jailed!

This sort of incident happens over and over again, all over Bangalore, many times a day. What I learn from this incident is :

  • It does not matter as to who is right or wrong….the bully wins.
  • There is no assessment of the cause of the accident, no questions asked to understand how the accident happened, who is at fault, etc. The police who arrive simply write down the statements of the loudest guy and not of both parties involved.
  • The crowd which gathers around the scene, (if mostly of the lower class), will support the guy on foot or the guy in the smaller vehicle….the guy with the bigger vehicle automatically becomes the enemy of the crowd….there is absolutely no logic in their reasoning.
  • The best thing to survive this type of situation is to be aggressive from the outset, be aggressive/assertive with the other party and call in all your ‘contacts’ in the police or anyone with power to intervene. Do not be cowed down by the threats but retaliate. Do not fear the crowd but call for support on your cell phones immediately if the situation seems to be getting out of hand.
  • DO NOT expect Justice.
  • Be bold and be a survivor and I hate to say this but maybe, you should hit below the belt yourself if you are in danger. The Bangalore mobs are dangerous and will be against you even if you are in the right…..if you are not a Kannadiga; or if you are a youth who knocked down an old man(even if the old man jumped in front of your car when the lights turned green); of if you are in a bigger vehicle and the other guy is in a smaller vehicle. The crowd seems to become insane if a woman driver (God save her if she does not speak Kannada) is involved, even if she is entirely innocent!
  • Expect to be robbed when you are involved in an accident in Bangalore and you are in a 
  •   helpless situation…the chances of getting help from the crowd is about 50-50 depending on whether you had an accident in a ‘decent’ area or another area.

I know of an old lady, who was trapped inside an overturned autorickshaw. She managed to extricate her cell phone from her bag to call for help and someone snatched it from her bleeding hands even as she was trying to dial! (a crowd surrounded the auto to pull it upright and this guy stole it from her in the process of many people pushing the auto! Upright!)
I think anyone who steps out of their homes in Bangalore, should mentally prepare themselves for all eventualities and have some sort of plans for each of them. I am bitter and disgusted by Bangaloreans’ behaviour; by the increase in crime in that city and the utter indifference of the police and politicians.
Anyone in Bangalore should have ‘contacts’ to survive these types of incidents.
Anyone, who does not have ‘contacts’ and believes that he will get along if he ‘ is right’ and follows the rules, is sadly mistaken. You will be targeted and victimized in Bangalore by the unscrupulous and you will receive no support or justice from the people around you or the police. I have seen north Indian students victimized just because they do not speak Kannada. I have seen house owners harassing these students. Non Kannada speakers are victimized by bus conductors and auto drivers. And God save anyone who has to get any work done in a state government office! The insistence on Kannada, the use of Kannada in official documents, the refusal to talk in English to the clients by these government officers, once they know that the person does not speak Kannada is so disturbing.(Also the bribes to grease government employees to get the work done!)

If you are visiting Bangalore,I strongly recommend that you acquire ‘locals’ who are your friends and can help you in these types of unexpected difficulties
 . Contacts and greasing go a long way to making your life smooth in the current, corrupt Karnataka. I am a Bangalorean and I do know there are several decent people in Bangalore, but this couple’s accident and the people’s experiences I am hearing about now, is disillusioning me about Bangalore.
In my circle of about 200 families of friends and relatives, I have observed that the handful of families who have contacts (police and political and in high posts in the government), face less hassles in life than the several families without contacts! These privileged few seem to get seats in schools and colleges of their choice, face little difficulty in matters such as getting work done at a government office, getting jobs, etc. Because, these people happen to be my friends or relatives, I cannot even get angry! I am glad that at least some people have contacts/help which reduces their struggle! But I am sad that even simple things such as admission at a good school in LKG is such an enormous struggle for my family members and friends without  contacts (or enough moolah to bribe our way through)
I am advising a young lady, (currently in USA and planning to return to for good) to come back to Bangalore if & only if she has a powerful set of contacts in order to survive here.
In the USA, she was able to get all she wanted without having influence/contacts and without having to pay a single bribe….. She was able to get into a good university, get a good job, buy a house, put her kids in school, without any hassles. She thinks she can do the same here at Bangalore! No amount of my pessimism is able to suppress her bubbling optimism ! I hate to think of the let down she will experience when she finally comes to Bangalore!
I am off track again(from the accident) but let me add one last thing.
I may be a little biased in my perception but I am observing that youth from rich and or politically well connected families seem to want to return to Bangalore after their studies in the USA while the youth from less affluent families(without political connections) prefer to stay back in USA, Canada or wherever they go to study. The youth from certain areas of Bangalore want to return to Bangalore while youth from other areas, do not want to return. This demonstrates the impact of different experiences on the children who grow in different types of families and parts of Bangalore. Those who want to return had a great life in Bangalore as kids; those who do not want to, seem to prefer the life abroad than life in Bangalore.
I met a South Bangalore Girl (in USA)who said she misses her family, the eateries in Jayanagar, the shopping trips with her friends and wants to return.
I have also met a North Bangalore(Yelahanka) girl who faced so many disgusting experiences while growing up in North Bangalore …she hated the way women are treated by road Romeos in the buses and on the roads, she hated the autocracy of the professors in her college, the crowded buses, the attitude towards women at college and work places, even at home in families; she saw the difficulties her parents faced economically and other wise, and she does not want to return to Bangalore.
The sons and daughters of industrialists, politicians, etc return after they get their foreign degrees as their life in India is more comfortable and they can get in India what they do cannot get abroad…drivers, maid servants, cooks, VIP treatment in various places, huge bungalows, huge incomes and ability to evade taxes and connections which get them whatever they want as the law does not apply to them…they are ‘above the law’!
Life in USA or any of the other countries may have much to offer them  but they do not  relish being 'equal to others'. They  prefer the feudal hierarchy of India, where they are the top-dog!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Women driving in India: Please be careful especially if you are in a two wheeler; if you are driving alone; driving after dark, driving in lonely places or driving in places with boorish men around. The chances of a guy in another two wheeler or a 4 wheeler, deliberately hitting you and driving off are very high.

Shocked? Wondering why the hell would someone do that? My analysis is that Indian men get a kick out of hurting or humiliating women. It maybe something to do with the massive complexes they have or their upbringing or the cheap Indian movies they watch. It could also be rage or jealousy they experience when they see women in the ‘driver’s seat’ and impels them to ‘cut her down to size’.

Women driving in India, please be doubly careful. Try to dress, so that you appear to be a male, at least from the back. Indian men simply cannot resist, hitting a female riding a two wheeler or driving a car. They have no concern at all whether she is injured or killed. The kick they get during the one second act of brutality is something they cannot give up.

Last walk at Sunnybrook park by the stables

Last walk because I can't take the mosquitoes.  I found this tree unusual... I dont know what these red berries are but th...