Save Our Souls

save-our-souls

When I realised I had to go into the city — about 50 kilometres — to get a document signed at the local government office, I groaned. That’s neither a fun nor a cheap ride.

I booked a cab. As soon as I got into the vehicle, I sent the vehicle number, the driver’s name, phone number, and my destination to a close friend of mine. And then I called my friend and enquired — loud enough so that the driver heard me — if she had received my text.

It’s the safest way (until proven otherwise) to travel in India. And to cope with the local needs, cab companies have now introduced various options for riders to call for help with just a tap. As soon as you book a cab, you’ll get a message prompting you to share details of your ride to at least three people. During the ride, you’ll see a flashy red banner that’ll call your emergency contacts in seconds.

It’s protocol.

Having wound up a rough week at work, I was home texting a friend of mine. He had just moved abroad and had been busy unpacking and settling down. It was the first time we got to chatting in weeks.

We were discussing work when my friend said he was considering a job as a cab driver. He mentioned Uber, but anything similar would do too. Plus, this friend of mine loves driving, and the street plan in his area is great for that.

We were still talking about Uber when he informed me that cabs in that country don’t have the SOS option.

It took me a while to register that. I thought back to the previous day when I had hailed a cab and realised — with shame — that I live in a country where caution is ingrained so deep into our brains that we want them even in our apps. We don’t trust our society and we’re proud to showcase SOS as a marketable feature.

People halfway across the world, however, don’t even see the need for it.

It seems insignificant, but it says a lot about our lifestyle. We’re so obsessed with being careful that if a cab company doesn’t have the emergency feature, we look down on it just because it doesn’t have the emergency feature.

Well, that says a lot more about us than it does about the cab company’s morality and ethics.

Our conversation lasted a good 40 minutes. But every minute after that, I’ve been thinking about the SOS. So we’ve become a nation that deprives the assurance of basic safety to our citizens. Who’s to save our souls now?

—|—

And with that question, I’ll wind up this year. It’s been great publishing a post a day, every day through 2016. It’s made me realise a lot about myself, all of which I’ll cover next year.

Have a happy new year, folks.

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