CHENNAI: Watching the might of India’s best and brightest space scientists strutting their stuff when there’s a launch at hand, is quite a stuff. Space being the final frontier and what not, it goes without saying that most things associated with the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) are cutting-edge, space-age technology.
Unfortunately, some habits die hard. Recently, when the space agency had scurried a media contingent across to their launch site at Sriharikota to witness the take-off of their GSLV rocket, the cameras were set for the moment of truth - as the voice on the speakers started the countdown. Call it coincidence or just bad timing, one of the space agency’s scientists was talking about how they had several advanced new systems installed in the rocket. ‘Everything about ISRO is out of the world,’ said his rigmarole, to cut a long story short.
As the countdown wound down to zero, a monotone jingle, heavily inspired from that announcement beep that Southern Railway has proudly preserved from their paleolithic era to announce trains, blared on the speakers. Space may be calling, but the rocket certainly has a super-archaic calling bell.
Stop, Look, Click!
Recently, this reporter and fellow lens man were on the way back from an assignment when they happened to spot a fire in a petty shop beside a government building. There were spectators aplenty, but none ready to do anything other than whipping out their smartphones to take photos, ostensibly to run to social media to report a fire that they just witnessed. It even took common sense to the trash bin, as there were two LPG cylinders inside the shop, around which the crowd was swelling. This, despite the police trying to keep the audience at bay. Thankfully, there were one or two who helped control the fire with buckets of water, before the Fire and Rescue Service personnel arrived. At the traffic signal, one is advised to ‘stop, look, cross’. Here, however, it was ‘stop, look, click away’!
This reporter was being taken from one branch of a noted diagnostic centre in the city to another that had some extra facilities. The driver of the ambulance turned on the siren and started honking incessantly. Other drivers on the road began making way frantically, giving way to the ambulance. This, despite there being no urgency. Also, it was early morning, and there was only moderate traffic on the road. When asked why the siren was on, the reply was a rather mocking “Oh! Why, what happened? Are you afraid?” Finally, a warning that he would be reported to the police for misuse of the siren, made him turn it off.
Having seen hospital operation theaters only in movies, for this reporter it was associated with a serious aura — four bright lights flashing from the top, hurried nurses and doctors making every move with great care.
So, it was shocking when this reporter recently found peppy Hindi songs being played on a big flat screen TV in the theater of a leading multi-specialty hospital, where he was taken in for a laparoscopy. Even under the trauma of having to undergo a surgery, it was amusing to find the casual attitude of nurses who were humming songs played on TV even as the anesthesia was administered. The reporter was hoping the TV will be switched off once the surgeon arrives. But that did not happen.
The songs were running throughout the procedure. Only later it was learnt that playing songs in operation theaters is an internationally-accepted practice as it helps surgeons and patients keep their cool during the process.