Dr A K Ramdas
Safety on the road is a growing concern for all the denizens of this lovely garden city. It is necessary to create the awareness so that all can take some preventive measures that would safe guard their interests. This article is based on actual experience.
Walking on the Road: The other day, as I stepped out of my house and was closing the main gate, I saw three ladies and a child of about 3 or 4 years old, walking on the 17th D Main. I hailed them and, said, “hello, ladies, may I have a word with you? One lady turned around and said “what about?” I said, it is about your own safety and security, as you are walking on the road. Can you please get on to the footpath, so that we can talk…and I continued to say, that “this is my house”. They looked at each other, and the lady (oldest in the group), moved up, to be followed by the younger two ladies, presumably, her daughters and possibly her grandchild… I continued…
Madam, before I came here, I worked for ten years in a hotel chain in Washington and had security training for the safety of our guests and how they should take precautionary steps when walking on the side walks….So, please permit me to share my experience with you, for your safety?
Addressing the lady on the extreme right on the road, I said: “you are walking on the road; your right hand has a hand bag, while, the child on your left is holding your finger; his left hand is being held by the lady in the center (older of the three ladies) and she in turn is holding the other lady on her left”…And you are walking on the road with the vehicles driving past you i.e. they are coming from behind… So if somebody grabs your bag, your first reaction is the child safety before you realized that the bag is gone!
Here in the city, we have regular bag and chain snatching every day; and the miscreants come on two wheelers and whiz past you so fast that you do not have enough time to react and protect yourself!
May I suggest you walk on the footpath, not four abreast, but in twos and watch out for broken and missing gutter tops. Sometimes you may find vehicles, push carts and even cars on the footpath, and
You need to negotiate your way. Even then, it is safer than being on the road! They thanked me and promptly took to the footpath on the right. Where there are no footpaths, as this happens in most places, the safest thing is to walk against the traffic as it flows; because atleast you can see what is coming on to you…
No sooner they had moved on to the footpath, I saw a young woman, walking on the road, with a clutch bag in one hand (left) while she held a cell phone on the other, with her ear-plugs on, presumably listening to music or talking to someone…I tried to call her attention, but she was so engrossed with her cell phone that she did not hear me…What can you do in such a case?
Travelling in Auto-rickshaws: You will hardly come across any auto-driver who will give you a ride unless you agree to pay “extra” over the meter; most will whiz past you when you tell them where you want to go; in any case, when you are “lucky” to have a driver who welcomes you, you may find that he is readjusting the mirror (if you are a young woman); sometime, he will try to talk to you. So, what are the preliminary steps that you should take? First, be brief to say where you want to go, even after reluctantly agreeing to his “extra” demand over the meter fare; no conversation and observe if he has the auto license properly displayed; if so, remember to note down the number; if the license has expired, you may casually mention that it has to be renewed soon..do not open your hand bag in front of him to settle his dues, but have a separate small pouch to keep the money, including small change, as generally most will “claim” that they have no “small change”. As it is, they are over-charging and on the top, they make a few extra bucks by not returning the full balance. Finally, unless it is your office or big residential complex do not get off in front of your residence, as a safety measure. After all, why should anyone know where exactly you live?
The best place to pick your auto is generally near the bus stops, where you may find a number of people waiting for the bus. If you have a bus service to where you want to go, and it is available, take it as a god sent opportunity and use public transport; use the auto where it is unavoidable. Many times you may find that, your own colleagues in the office are living close to where you live and you may find it safer to share the auto with them; similarly, you may also find that there may be some in the bus stops who travel close to your final destination and you may find it safer to share an auto with them, particularly of the same gender..
If anytime the auto driver begins to talk “loosely” or make any untoward suggestive remarks, please use the cell phone to record his utterances and stop to get off at some road crossing or crowded area like the bus stop and holler for help. When you do that a miscreant driver will drive to speed away from the site; use the cell camera to take a quick photo of the number and report to the police immediately.
Best is to avoid travelling in auto alone in the evenings; any known person, neighbor or a friend would be the person to contact to accompany you where you want to go if your own family member is not available…Just as a matter of safety, get a pepper spray and keep it handy in your bag…you never know when you need it!