Sunday, November 3, 2013

Inkling on the Drive....

"E.M. Bypass? Damn."- She had already started panicking.
" was just a disembodied episode"- I tried my best to persuade her. I was rather languorous to say the least. I had to travel all the way from Salt Lake to Dhakuria to drop her after the party.

"Damn! Who's gonna pay for the fuel?"- I muttered. It was damn annoying to say the least; nobody had persuaded her for that extra wasn't my responsibility either.
But then those recent bit of unpleasant incidents occurring in and around the city has indeed raised the eyebrows.

The matter had started adulterating after the late night Park Street trauma that shook the country; but then, the aftermath wasn't as conspicuous as expected. The protest marches, predictable increment in security personnel, improved crowd monitoring, regulating the pub infiltration and other mitigation plans constituted pretty much, the outer sheath. The inner instinct still remained audacious, undaunted...the malevolence still prevailed.

"Sammy, I'm counting on you man"- She was stammering through her words, I could see a glistening tickle at the left hand corner of her eyes. She was scared.
"You know these taxi drivers man...they are so erratic" - She was almost on the verge of breaking down; Yes these taxi drivers fall under the "pain point" category when we analyse the current list of bottlenecks in the genre called "safety".

I thought for a moment and made up my mind.

"Come! I will drop you...but then, I have a condition"- I conjectured.
"What?"- She sounded skeptical alright.
"You'r in for some free 'gyan' tonight; that should take care of your hangover"- I divulged.

Driving through the deserted boulevard of "broken dreams"...the profound "emptiness", crossing the Beliaghata connector.....

"You were supposed to tell me something"- She sounded insouciant then. Perhaps my presence was comforting enough.....

"Oh lets being then...."- I responded with a smile. *Music volume down* 

"Okay then.....
The Gyan Part....I would finish it in one go, don't worry "- I started.... 
"So, you were talking about the Taxi Drivers, right? Hmmm...perfectly right; but then what are the mitigation plans against the late night frequent Taxi Refusals or the on-road atrocities that we often face? There goes the first step towards ensuring safety...the Kolkata police has already announced a couple of toll free numbers for calling or text-ing in times of distress. Make sure that you have those readily available in hand; the best practice is to note down the vehicle number, the moment you step into the cab and text it to a family helps immensely to track it down. You can make a note of the driver details as well, if available on the name-plate inscribed inside some of the cabs. Refrain from picking up a fight with the cab driver, if he charges you more...a bit of diplomatic arbitration could solve it without any haste.

Okay then, what comes next is the use of technology...I guess you have a smartphone readily available with you, correct? Great. Turn on the GPS or the Maps application whenever you board a cab...that would actually help you in terms of determining the "route undertaken" would require a 3G Connection, at least for the maps functionality to work accurately. Do not get carried away with statements like 'Madam, there might be traffic congestion out there, let's take the short-cut'. A short-cut can never bear the right trails. The 3G internet connection can even help you in terms of sending photographs (driver's images, car number plate, road, by-lanes etc) through instant messaging services. And of course, you do have the bliss of a "Smart Suraksha" application on your smartphone...make full use of it, if needed! And yes, please ensure that your phone has been "charged" to the capacity before leaving home.

Being street smart is also a key; I would rather say, "mix it up adroitly" ...keep altering your routes that you regularly follow while coming back home (from office, school or college). It's always better not to become too predictable with your moves; hindering close lit up vigilance is indeed judicious. It's important to stay in control for the major part of your journey "alone"; keep an eye on the landmarks that you encounter everyday. It's so very important to know your own city; every bend, every corner, even the aroma attached to the nook and corner...INDEED! It's absolutely laudable to "Stop by and protest" against an unruly remark passed from a dark and shabby corner; but it's advisable to walk away when you are all alone.

Sometimes you need to develop your reflexes well, especially, if you are travelling through the derelict stretches of New Town, Rajarhat or Salt Lake, you might just need to "flex your muscles" a bit. You just need to block that part of your mind that says "You cannot match them in terms of physical strength"; Mate!! A forceful jab into the traducers' eyes or a football kick could just be enough to earn some precious bit of seconds to restore yourself; you need to target those key "zones of sensitivity" for maximum impact. I'm not really asking you to enroll yourself for the Karate classes, but shove off those pre-conceived notions; "you CAN if you wish to"!

If you are befuddled, like you are right now, try not to go out immediately. Intoxication is a curse when it comes to restraining your moves; when you'r in a trance, your senses tend to misdirect you. Make sure that you are "within your limits" to help yourself; for a house party like the one we had today, try to come in early and leave early so that all the ends are matched. And of course, it's okay to seek help from a friend...but not from a stranger in such circumstances; you do know the consequences, don't you?

Okay...coming back to our "treasured traits"; the "flaunt-frenzy idiosyncrasy" ...when you live in a community, it's important, not to share extremely personal bit of information...not even with your maid, house-keeper or the driver. I have seen this from time to time; it's pretty important to draw a line when you decide to "unfurl your flaunt centric itineraries" shouldn't divulge into details regarding your relationships, bank balance, salary, gadgetry etc. It might just work again you buddy!!

When we talk about Kolkata, there's an automatic impetus on the festivities that encircles Durga Puja. Indulging in the spirits of boundless joy and unscripted frolic is indeed the order of the day; but there needs to be a threshold. Since the major concentration is focused towards crowd control & traffic regulation, there might be sparse cases of female molestation amid-st the human-wave. It's better to stick in groups during Pandal Hopping; keep a check on the precious possessions and of course adopt familiar routes while tracking down a particular puja pandal; seek help from the traffic police when needed. The same holds good when you're travelling via crowded public buses or the local trains....make sure that you manage to draw public attention when exposed to such kind of nefariousness.

Try to avoid filling up of online questionnaires that promise free gifts in return of your feedback and your personal details. This also holds good for the "lucky draw" coupons carried by specific sales-persons at the city specific shopping malls; most of them are fraudulent in practice. Personal experience says that the specific contact details are transferred to private agencies and are prone to profanation. Do not entertain any prank call seeking personal information through round-about-inquisition...Be very sure of lodging a local FIR if the calls are disturbing enough.

Make sure that you are well protected in your own dwell; a well defined security system, alarms, cinched locks could help you combat the thugs. Be ultra cautious during the lean periods of the day, especially in the afternoon when the over-inquisitive sales-persons or the courier-delivery infiltrate into the territory. Be very sure of their identity before you actually open the door.

And last but not the least....

Heyyyy.....There....Helloohh ???!! Are you listening??"

"Yeaah??!! Oh...Yeah sorry, I just dozed off"- She replied hesitantly; her tranquilized voice sounded rather funny on the drive.

"Yes, the last and the most important of the mitigation measures is NOT TO SLEEP...both literally & in should always be perfectly aware of what's happening around you; how you should actually react to the situation in hand and deal with it based on your instincts....and of course, you shouldn't sleep in a cab, especially when it's driven by a got that? "

"Yeah!! ..." - She nodded obediently. 

The Sumo creamed through the highway in blazing speed; it was a full moon night...the streets were baked in it's ravishing brightness; there wasn't even an etch of the blemished blasphemy in her eyes...I slowly sank in them!! ....we had already crossed the Ruby General hospital by then, we were almost there....

*I am sharing my Smart Suraksha Tips at in association with the effective Smart Suraksha App....!!

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