Monday, 27 February 2012

In Praise of India...

We often fail to see our positive side untill some one from out side makes a fair comparison with an illustration.

A young Indian returns from USA, after a few years, for good. Here is a fascinating story of 'good' that he saw in us during a critical moment...

Here is a reproduction from his blog..

It happens only in India!
Welcoming? No, Sniffing us!

Your car breaks down in the middle of a sparsely traveled state highway at 11:00am. Your friend needs to catch a flight at 5:00pm. It happens 200 kilometers away from the airport and the closest city where the car can be repaired is 50 kilometers away. What would you do?

Had this incident occurred in the US, the only option I would’ve thought of is to call the AAA. They take up to an hour to answer your distress call to get to your vehicle. If you’d been forward thinking enough to enroll in an AAA plus membership, it will get you a free tow for up to 100 miles but if you’ve penny pinched by opting for a standard AAA membership, you’re out of luck after three miles, unless you pony up the extra for the remainder of the tow. I’m not sure how much towing would cost but I’d hazard a guess that its over a 100 dollars at the very least. Here again, you either opt to drop the car off at the garage, try to get a rental car if you can find one to drive your friend to the airport and get back to your vehicle spending a significant sum, or opt to get the damages assessed and repaired if a rental isn’t readily available, which probably can take the better part of a day for the mechanics working on your car before it gets road worthy again. During this agonizing decision making process, your friend has kissed his flight goodbye. Maybe he already called the airline and got his flight rescheduled. But he has an international connection and his travel plans have irrevocably been postponed 24 hours due to this technicality.

This, fortunately, did not happen in the US. It happened in India. The road where the car broke down was a twin lane state highway 17, fifty kilometers away from Mysore, connecting it with the Kabini forest reserve. The only vehicles plying the road were tractors towing farm produce, the odd lumbering truck and bullock carts few and far in between. The friend had to catch his international connecting flight at the Bangalore airport. I knew the inevitable: its going to be virtually impossible to reschedule his flight by calling the airline or the airport. I was already thinking up of an alternative to try and salvage his flight.

What happened in the next twenty minutes was unbelievable!

Elephant ride
I christen it the human network. My first phone call was made to dad where I informed him about the situation and the possible damage to his car that I had borrowed. Meanwhile, on the other line unbeknownst to me, his business partner called up the factory’s Mysore office and informed the head of operations there about the problem. Incidentally, this head honcho was a relative of mine and dad passed on his number to me. No sooner had I called him to brief him on the problem (that he already knew about), all he asked me was where I was, what my vehicle make and number was and if I needed a ride to Mysore. I crossed my fingers and asked for a ride all the way to the Bangalore airport! Done deal. I got a number in response and was told to hold on to it, which I duly did. Within the next five minutes, I received a call from the this number I was just to hold on to --a taxi driver’s cellphone --where he told me that he had already left Mysore and was on his way to the broken down car in the middle of nowhere, with only a description and the license plate number of the car!

It was close to noon when I saw the speeding Ambassador taxi from afar. As he saw our car, he slowed down and made a U turn on the highway, preparing to get off the vehicle. I interjected urgently and beaconed him to stay put, hauled my friend and brother into his car and told him to drive home --to Bangalore, pick up the friend’s luggage and race to the airport as soon as he could. His reassurances of the highway worthiness of his car were more than encouraging. His only request was we pay both ways --from Mysore to Bangalore airport and his ride back to his hometown of Mysore. As the taxi left in a cloud of dust, I received another call from an unknown number. This was from the driver of a tow truck that was already on its way to pick up my car and deposit it at the garage in Mysore.

It was after this frantic rush of activity that I settled down in a contemplative mood in the noon sun, waiting for my ride to arrive when I couldn’t help but think of the different outcomes of the same situation in a developed country like the US and a developing country like India. In the US, you are left to your own fate. This nation, that pushes and strives for fierce independence places the burden of the problem squarely on your own shoulder to face. Alone. Compared with the outcome here in India --the subconsciously taken for granted interdependence on the human network shines bright and strong. My friend, after all, caught his flight from Bangalore, nearly missing it being just half a kilometer away from the airport thanks to Bangalore’s infamous rush hour traffic!

The total taxi fare for unscheduled pick-up in the middle of nowhere, drop off in the nick of time at the airport and back --a total of four hundred kilometers: $50!

Twenty minutes for nine people at five different locations to get the job done right the first time: Priceless
…it happens only in India!"

And still flows Kabini..


  1. Coming from the US I can appreciate everything that you say here. We take pride in our independence, but have created a society that removes us from the interdependence that other societies enjoy. I believe that no one in the US would have a network that would be this efficient. Well maybe if they could afford a staff of hundreds this might happen, but the average person would not.

    The interdependence is what creates a society that does not create anxiety and worry. It is that interdependence that will create a secure attitude that will foster the compassion that will keep the secure attitude in following generations. When we realize that people and relationships are more important than things, only then will we be able to live a life that will not breed anxiety and foster greed and avarice. This process is what has destroyed many societies, despite how history embellishes the truth. It is that which is destroying the world right now. When a politician can criticize the current president by saying, "How can a president put the saving the Earth ahead of people." that one has to gasp in horror, for what would people be without the Earth. I cried when I heard those words, as I see us doomed without clear thinkers in our govenment.

    You go India, keep the thread of humanity strong in your country. It will keep you strong and stable.

    1. Thanks Shatril (Lynne) very much for your very matured outlooks. Interdependence, and working against greed and avarice at an individual level, world over alone can help us save the Earth. We have only one for ALL OF US.


  2. That was a wonderful narration Dilip :)

    And for a welcome break someone noted and narrated the different contexts and philosophies between the two countries of US and India. Keep writing sir!