Some months ago, I had recorded here the ideas of the Tathagata (It’s the small stuff, stupid) on the importance of taking care of the itsy-bitsy small bits. Today I was struck yet one more time about that truth. I was waiting at the Kandivali local train station when a huge board caught my eye. It was a listing of EMERGENCY and IMPORTANT PHONE NUMBERS.
There were about 20 phone numbers. Here is what they looked like:
Womens’ Aid 29846500
Rape Hotline 32647583 … and so on.
Perhaps there are people who have amazing powers of recollection and recall, Perhaps there are people who can memorize random sets of 8-digit phone numbers which they can recall in moments of stress and urgency. I am not one of them. I can at most keep one phone number in my head to be used in the rare occassion that I need urgent help. I would not be surprised, if confronted with an urgent need for help, I dial “911”. That is the number you can call from anywhere in the US if you need help. It is standardized, easy to remember, even a five-year old child can be expected to know that number.
Why, oh, why can’t we think? It does not require a rocket-scientist to figure out that there should be one small easily recallable emergency number. You dial that number irrespective of what sort of emergency you have. Then when you get connected, you say “Fire” or “Oxygen” or whatever is your need. The operator then appropriately directs your call.
OK, granted it may require some brains to think of that simple arrangement. But in this case it is not a closely guarded secret. Many parts of the world have that system. Could we not just imitate them? Could someone in Mumbai not realize that perhaps we could copy their system? We do ape them in every crappy thing, don’t we?
They have Hollywood; we must have Bollywood. We are not smart enough to come up with our own name. They have Burger King. We have Jumbo King (sells vada-pao.) They have idiotic synchronized hip-gyrating dancing in their trashy music videos, we have idiotic synchronized hip-gyrating dancing in our movies coming out the wazoo. Aping the US seems to be de rigeur in Mumbai, and the rest of India. They go so far as to watch the same crappy American sitcoms and worst of all, they even watch the insane American wrestling shows.
Aping the Americans, unfortunately, appears to be epitomize the “modern” Indian. Not surprising at all. What is mystefying is that among all this aping, there is not one bit that is aped that is good. I would probably have a heart attack if I ever saw Indians adopt a good idea, however small, from the US. Take for example, the way Indians write phone numbers. Here is a phone number written the Indian way: 7460137498. No spaces, no breaks. Just thenumbersallsquished. Will we ape the Americans (746-137-7498) or the French (18.104.22.168.98)? Not on your life.
The US has “911” as the number for emergencies and “411” for directory assistance. We could have a similar standardized system. We didn’t invent the idea of standardization of important numbers, but would it be so terrible if we copied that idea? The first degree of stupidity is not having the brains to come up with a good idea. The second degree of stupidity is not adopting a good idea when it comes up and bites you in the behind.
If you just ape the trashy bits of rich countries and never ever copy the good ideas, you might be a third world country.