Mostly Thoughtless

Tam Brahm, thank you ma'am

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Accidental etiquette......

My college is situated in Tambaram which is quite a way off from the centre of the city and although a fleet of college buses is available to ferry students to college everyday, I find that the quickest and most convenient way to get to college is by taking the suburban train service. Most of my trips are uneventful and slightly boring even but occasionally, it gets interesting when the train runs over somebody. (There's no need for that look of horror, it happens quite frequently in this city.) These occasions generally leave a bad taste in my mouth and I'll tell you why shortly. The reason why I'm telling you all this is that I was prompted to write this particular blog because of a related incident that occurred yesterday.

It was going to be just another routine trip and the train hadn't even left my station when the driver braked and the train slowly came to a screeching halt. Immediately, all of us knew that something had gone wrong but what happened later was just plain pathetic. Scores of people, even from the compartments towards the far end of the train were running towards the engine, wanting to see what had happened and some of them had highly expectant grins on their sorry faces. An old lady had stumbled on the tracks and some onlookers had pulled out of harm's way before the driver had braked. So, in actual fact, nothing had happened but the way the people had gone running in the hope of seeing a dead person made me think about what a sorry life they led. In fact, it's pretty common to see huge crowds of people at similar train-run-over sites. They always manage to disgust and nauseate me. Hundreds of onlookers creating an almost festive atmosphere around the accident scene, willing to wait for hours before the bodies are extricated.

And always, in these crowds, there's a certain unspoken set of rules - an etiquette, if you will, that everyone follows. Let's call it the accidental etiquette. Here is what I think is a small list of the salient points…

Hang your head down with a look of dejection on your face, occasionally turn to person standing next to you and mumble philosophically about the beauty of life and the unpredictability of death.

If you're one of the closest to the body, don't forget to crouch 'cos you don't want to rob the others of a clear view.

It's generally considered bad manners to eat at such a scene but if you're really hungry and don't want to miss the action (although dead bodies generally don't have much action), chocolate bars a small bag of crisps are ok, I guess.

Hold a loud discussion about what to go about doing with the body but lifting a finger to actually do something is more than what is expected of you.

Looking at the incident optimistically, if a routine run-over case can manage to attract such large crowds, then it means that the folks here in Chennai are that starved for entertainment. So, maybe Bollywood flicks have a more than reasonable chance of succeeding down here.

Coming back to a more domestic problem, I can't hear any sound from my speakers. The power cord is connected, the speaker is definitely on. The connection to my CPU is also pretty firm and the real clincher is that (I have a 2 OS dual boot system) the audio works fine on Windows 98 and refuses to do so on XP. Some of you wise guys may be going, "Check Volume Control to see if mute is checked." But unfortunately, I've done that too and I don't have a clue as to what's going on. If anybody has any ideas, feel free. Till the next time, bye and take care.

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