Posts Tagged ‘safety’

Safety and security, STL, 170814

August 19, 2014

Yesterday I went to

<a href=”″&gt; this event </a>

at the St.Louis Zoo auditorium.

I had not read in detail about the extinction of Passenger Pigeons in the US (where a population of several billion birds was wiped out, purely because of human intervention), and it was a revelation to me.

However, I did not want to call on DnA to pick me up from the Zoo auditorium and I walked back. As I did, I mused on safety and security. There was nothing different about my walking back at about 9pm from the Zoo auditorium, across Forest Park, back home, I usually do it during Muny shows, Shakespeare-in-the-Park, or the Royal Philharmonic on Art Hill (it took me about half an hour, you can go to Google maps and look at the St.Louis Zoo, and look for Christ Deliverance Ministry, Enright Ave…you’ll know where I walked) I usually cut across the grass, not always keeping to the roads. I was wondering, yesterday, if walking in the dark was a wise thing to do. Then I told myself that the fears were mostly in my own mind and perception…in fact, it was probably safer now than before the Ferguson incident,
(here’s a video of John Oliver’s take on it:

…actually, with so many police cars on the prowl ! I walked uneventfully back home. (It does help that I am a “black” person, not white, I suppose, in this area!)

So much of our fears are in our own perceptions, coloured by our own prejudices…where should we draw the line between genuine concerns and our own timorousness?

The trouble in the US is the stupid gun culture. I might be walking far away from any know source of trouble, and might get cut down by a stray bullet! Well, at the end of it all, I believe it’s Fate…and I walk briskly, not loitering. And when I’ve got home safely, I like the feeling that I didn’t give in to the feeling of “Oh, what might happen to me!” and just call DnA to leave their hectic chores and come and pick me up!

But IF something had happened, I would have been reviled for my foolhardiness…how to know, in advance, if my fears are well-founded or groundless? No way, alas, but to put it to the test, and walk home!

All over the windshield….

January 24, 2012

It’s all very well to decorate one’s car with the symbols of one’s faith:

drwng on wndshld 220112

But this seems to leave, quite literally, a very small window of vision for the driver, and almost none at all for the passenger in front.

Are such “windshield decorations” legal? More important, are they safe?

A visit from the police

July 20, 2011

All the residents on our block got this email from the residents’ association (or whatever it is called!) a few days ago:

“Two Officers will be in the neighborhood tomorrow 7/18 from 4-6pm to properly mark your property, assets such as flat screens laptops, desktop computers, ipads, other electronics that can be taken from your home. They will also pass out safety information to help protect us against crime. For more information contact the officers directly: Officer Michael Butler and Officer Kathy Suarez North Patrol Special Operations.”

Sure enough, at about 5pm, several police officers rang the doorbell, gave us a sheet of paper on which we could list out our valuables. They also brought a special pen with which they marked the TV, the laptops, and few other valuable items around the house. They also told us that we could make the list at our leisure and keep it ready.

As they left, I went and asked if I could photograph them, and they agreed:

police 180711 stl

How lovely to have such an interaction with the police force! Instead of the usual “us-and-them” feeling that I often get in India, here I got a feeling of committed officers, working hard for our welfare. I watched them talking to many of the neighbours, too, in the sweltering heat of the day, before they finally left. One of them was in casual clothes, one in full uniform, and the others had “POLICE” tees!

They can’t have an easy job….in a society where, especially, guns are so prevalent…so I appreciate their efforts all the more.

I emailed them the photograph, and got an immediate reply from Janice Y Bockstruck (who’s in the photo):

“Thank you for sending us a copy of the picture. It was a pleasure to
serve the community in such a positive way and meet such nice residents
as yourself who support our efforts!

“Lt. Janice Bockstruck”

Wow…I’m hoping for the day when I can email Karnataka Police, and get a quick reply like that…..but meanwhile, thank you, St.Louis Metropolitan Police Department!


November 14, 2008

Of how much use are the locks and keys and other security devices that we use?

Very little, if the onslaught is determined. Mostly, our home security devices are deterrents, not prophylactics.

If someone is determined to breach the defences of a home or living/working space, I think that person can do so, in most cases. Very few us are perpetually prepared for worst-case scenarios.

Once, my friend’s front door key was lost and I brought over our local “key person”.

This guy seems so archetypally the “burglar” type that I used to joke that he used to make keys by day and use them nefariously at night! But he has been peacefully plying his trade in Jayanagar 9th Block for at least 12 years now, though I am sure that by now, he would have made keys to the front doors of practically every flat in our apartment building, and quite a few of the houses in the area!

To get back to the story, this guy came over and opened her front door in about two minutes’ time. Rather shocked, I asked him, “Can you do this with all locks?” “Yes,” he replied calmly. All these ‘nightlatches’ and ‘navtal’ and other locks are for YOUR peace of mind, they won’t stop the determined housebreaker at all!”

I realized, then, how much we rely on our social fabric for the security of our households, and how tenuous and weak are the defences that keep our homes intact and inviolate. In a typical Indian household, the domestic help, the people who deliver the milk, newspapers, ironing, and even vendors…all have access to a home, and it is a network of implicit trust.

Dogs as house guards may be generally reliable, but I know of at least two instances where burglars regularly fed them food and then walked into the house and rifled it.

A joint family, where there is someone in the home almost all the time, is one of the best forms of security…but alas, it’s no longer very common.

Abroad, security systems and neighbourhood watch programs have now taken the place of family and guards…but they, too, can be breached.

So…security, and the perception of it, is mainly in our minds…so perhaps the simplest thing is not to have too much of valuables at home, and be prepared to do without some material possessions….but is this always possible?



January 25, 2008

Wouldn’t each of us like to have one of these?

safe place fire station st louis 240108

Charles Schulz, who created “Peanuts”, once defined childhood as the ability to go to sleep in the back of the car (which reminds me of one of yathin‘s posts about safety and driving, but I won’t go there now)….each of us would like to have a “safe place” where harm and sadness and loss cannot reach us….but in reality, the safe place is what we create, in our own minds and hearts. And there is, truly no absolutely “safe” place in the world; because we bring our problems with us; unless we shut them out ourselves, no haven can be one.

Reminds me of the story of the king whose astrologers foretold his death; he decided to create a safe place for himself, and completely sealed himself inside a “safe” room. At the appointed hour, he died because the room collapsed on him. Yathin, that story, too, was brought to my mind because of your latest post on fate!

Fate…but as the Gujrati said, fate is at least more tasty than carbohydrates!

PS. this sign was outside the Fire Station. Ironic that the fire engines (fire trucks, out here) , a few days ago, put out the fire and made a soaking wet charred ruin of what someone, until the day before, had probably considered THEIR safe place….

Why do we assume rules are not for us? Why do we think accidents will happen only to others?

September 3, 2007

Feeling rather sad that I couldn’t catch up with this young mother and warn her about the terrible risk she was taking:

Can I say I love my child if I am willing to expose her to this kind of risk?

Why do we assume rules are not for us? Why do we think accidents will happen only to others?

September 3, 2007

Feeling rather sad that I couldn’t catch up with this young mother and warn her about the terrible risk she was taking:

Can I say I love my child if I am willing to expose her to this kind of risk?