Thursday, January 24, 2008

Are you an exception too?

One lazy afternoon, I was engaged in some harmless office banter. After some uninteresting topics, we moved to discuss the perils of travelling by London's underground tubes.

We talked about the terrorist attacks of 7/7, how there are some weirdos who lurk behind you in the platform and push you off towards a train, and about suicide attempts in the tube stations.

Australian Colleague, Au: "Here's a deal - I would get under the tracks and stay there till a train passes over me. £10,000. Any takers?"

British colleague, Brit: "Not yet. You are not that irritable yet."

Me: "Same here, I'll wait for awhile too. I have to say, I am really worried about someone pushing me into the tracks while waiting on a crowded platform - it's my nightmare."

Brit: "I am scared of getting my leg caught between the closing doors and having to remain that way till the doors open again. Sometimes people in the tube don't help you when you get stuck. That's mainly because some people tend to act rude when offered help. So most people just pretend it's none of their business and pretend to be busy reading the fine-prints on the ads."

Au: "Hmm I saw something like that on the tube yesterday. I am scared about falling into the tracks as P mentioned. But what worries me more is will anyone pull me back to the platform or will they just watch me getting crushed under the train?"

Brit: "Well, it depends more on how you look."

Me and Au: "What!"

If I am not dressed as good as you, you wouldn't help me? If my skin is of a different colour, you wouldn't help me? If I am a beggar, you wouldn't help me? If I don't cry for help, you wouldn't help me?
I bet if I were a dog or a cat, you would jump in to help me.

Is that the age-old ugly-head of untouchability showing itself?

PS: I understand this could be an exception, people are almost always friendly here. But there's a difference between being friendly outside and meaning it in the inside.

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Within a week of writing this post, I had a bad fall in one of the tube stations. I fell on my knee and the pain immobilised me for 10-15 minutes. The only person who offered to help was an old man who was passing by. And the help he gave me was to pick up my shoe and place it near me.


5 comments:

Vishy said...

Arent you generalising a random comment in harmless office banter(as you yourself have put it) into something big?
~Vishy

Girl With Big Eyes said...

Possibly and I hope so too. But it gave me quite a shock to hear that.

Rinchen said...

Depends on how you look!?! Sure sounds scary.

Were people any different in Mumbai where you lived earlier since even that city's home to all kinds of indifferent people or what we've been led to believe?

Girl With Big Eyes said...

I feel people were much more tolerant and helpful in Mumbai without any regard to how you look. Btw, being a gal helps tremendously :)

Rinchen said...

And how :)