Monthly Archives: April 2014
Yikes, That Was A Close Call!
I really didn’t need that. It made my heart go wild and crazy, for all the wrong reasons.
Sunday morning – just a peek outside when I woke up showed me what a yucky day it was going to be, even more so after the wonderful day before. No bright sunlight today, just heavy rain, fog, wind and clouds. 😦
By early afternoon, we were on the road again heading back home for the work week ahead. It was an uncomfortable drive, not just because of the usual Sunday blues but because it was coming down so heavily. Visibility was terrible and you had to be hunched over the wheel, peering through the windshield to make sure you were on the road and in your lane.
Quite suddenly, an 18-wheeler zoomed by to our right splashing great amounts of water onto our path. Before I knew it, our car was fishtailing, slipping and sliding all over the highway, going from the extreme left to the right lane, then spinning out of control in circles before spinning right off the road onto the shoulder. It didn’t stop even there but continued into the now swampy, grassy undergrowth and kept going for about 50 feet before coming to a stop at a tree line. [I understand now that the scary feat that our car performed was hydroplaning].
Thank goodness for the trees!
Heart beating fast, we checked ourselves. Wow, everything checked out okay. We hadn’t even been touched! Well, except in our rapidly beating hearts and scared-out-of-our-mind minds.
The car was pretty much stuck in the wet mud and would not budge. It was barely visible from the highway. But in this connected age it was not a great hardship to get help, get towed out of the mud and be on our way again. Especially when you consider the possible alternatives!
In that torrential rain and since we were in the boonies, traffic was sparse. Yet some cars stopped to inquire if they could help. Given that we were not easily visible, way off in the distance from the highway, the cars had to pass our location to even spot us. If they happened to see this car oddly stuck in the mud, they took the trouble to stop on the shoulder and back-up in that pouring rain to see if we needed a helping hand. It would have been so much easier for them to keep on driving.
It begged the question, how many times have I gone out of the way to help others – strangers at that – the way these folks had?
Need I even say how lucky, lucky, lucky we were? That was the first near-major accident I had ever been involved in and it (most definitely!) could have been so much worse. Just thinking about all the possible scenarios makes me sick to the stomach!
Kinda puts everything into perspective, it does…
Life is short, folks. Live gratefully.
Our mini-adventure in pictures [click on a thumbnail to view the images]:
A Massive Scale Democracy At Work
The world’s largest democracy (India, in case you didn’t know) is voting now to choose its new government. The sheer numbers that India is dealing with are enormous and astounding – some that the rest of the world will never witness.
As of Feb 2014, the number of people from this 1.2 billion strong country who are eligible to vote is an amazing 814 million+. Compare that to about 150 million registered voters in USA.
In fact, around 120 million voters in India will be voting for the first time since the last national elections that were held in 2009….they are the new grown-ups with a huge, new responsibility to help guide the country into their future.
930,000 polling stations will be used with 1.4 million electronic voting machines. Thousands of police and paramilitary personnel have been deployed to polling stations to provide security. Truly a behemoth project!
The actual voting is taking place over a period of more than a month, that began on April 7th and will go through May 12th in a phased manner across various regions of the country.
The national level elections for the Lok Sabha or the “House of the People” (the lower house of the Parliament of India) is represented by members of Parliament from a total of 543 constituencies. The leading party (likely an alliance of parties) will need 272 seats to form the government of India for the next five years. By mid-May, India will have a new leader and government, elected to take the country forward.
Sadly of the more than 3300 candidates contesting the national elections, more than 550 have criminal charges filed against them, with 328 of them being serious charges (murder, kidnapping, rape…). 😦 How is this even permitted?
But even with all that said and done, this is truly a marvel as it unfolds…democracy in action at a truly massive scale. And whether one likes the outcome or not, the country has to live with it because the majority has spoken. Did I say, democracy?
[Click here to know everything about this election in 2 minutes, video by BBC].
I can safely say that the leading candidate scares the bejesus out of me.
I lost my right to vote when I immigrated and became a citizen of the great democratic nation where I now live. But I didn’t lose my right to care. Or to have an opinion (a strong one at that).
I tell myself, just look back in history and you can see that democracies around the world have survived despite electing some terrible leaders, sometimes coming out even stronger for it. In fact, you don’t have to look too far, simply see the current highly ineffective, corruption-ridden government of India that is forcing people to choose change.
I tell myself that the nation is strong enough to survive, whatever happens. Until the next election.
I tell myself that someday more people will vote for clean, progressive and secular versus the alternative. And someday there will be a viable alternative. Perhaps even multiple alternatives.
I tell myself that I will eat my words if I am proven wrong this time. Happily.
I tell myself that ultimately, even with all its flaws, democracy in action is a beautiful thing.
Statistics courtesy of Association of Democratic Reforms (ADR), India