Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Where's 911?

I had a helpless India moment last night. We were driving back from my MIL's after a typically delectable Punjabi feast after a Punjabi holiday that required us all to fast (well required me but Nitin did too). About a kilometer into the journey home, we came upon an overturned truck. It must have just fallen because we saw a man break out through a window. About four guys tried to hoist up the red cab of the truck with no luck. Seeing our car, they gestured to our driver to go help. He did.

And then jumped back in the car and attempted to maneuver around the remains. I gasped and looked down, then looked away. And then morbid human nature took over and I stared -- a man was on the ground, covered in blood and quivering. I could hear the men nearby in Hindi saying he needed help but shouldn't be moved. I looked specifically at his head and I am cringing as I type this but I couldn't tell where it ended and the road began and there was a thicker residue oozing onto the ground. I too began shaking. I thought only enough to cover Naya's eyes.

"Shouldn't we stop or help or call someone?" I said to the driver.

"If you wish," the driver said.

But who? I don't know the 911 equivalent in India. And truthfully, while there are efforts to launch emergency services etc, they haven't quite taken off nationally yet. I scrolled through my mobile, wondering if maybe the presets had such a number. No luck.

I tried to call our health reporter, thinking she had just done a story on one such said service. She didn't answer.

We were nearly 1 kilometre away and I was feeling like the worst person in the world. Should we have just tried to fold the guy into our front seat and rush to a hospital? How could I leave a fellow human being on the ground like that? I might sound melodramatic but it's really what I was thinking.

Finally, I call my brother-in-law, who lives nearby and is resourceful. I started to tell him where we were and to ask if maybe he knew a doctor or hospital that could be dispactched when we saw it -- a police car.

Now you have to remember that the police (slogan in Delhi: with you, for you, always) have made a living in India never being there when you need them. And they are known to be among the most crooked of institutions. But I had a feeling like all my gods had planted that car there in that moment.

"Accident. Very urgent. 1 kilometre back," I yelled. The driver did the Hindi talking, while Nitin and I both made gestures to hurry and get help.

We proceeded on our way. I wonder if the man made it. I wonder what he said and thought. And sadly, I wonder hoe he felt when he saw our car veer around him.

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