Fear OR detecting danger - How to distinguish ?

I hail from India, where chaos, uncertainty and unpredictability rules. I love the way how rules, things and people are flexible back in India.
Or should I say, I used to love the way..?

Having lived in India for major part of my life, I had grown to protect myself from many issues a female faces in the society. But, living in Japan and Singapore for a major part of my adult life has subdued that fear considerably. In Japan, I used to ride a bicycle from work, around 1.00 Am, alone, along the same route every night, and never feared that somebody would attack me. I am not bothered if I to be alone in most parts of Singapore after nightfall also. So, I was under the illusion that I have become much fearless.

Something which happened today morning is making me question my stands on the fear in the public.

I usually take bus and train to work. Today, I was delayed on the roads due to the heavy traffic. I reached the train station after peak hours. There were considerably less people in the train. As I stepped into the car, first thing I noticed was 3 unattended luggage on the floor (Yes, even before spotting empty seats). One backpack and 2 bags from department stores which clearly weren't new purchase. I was very uncomfortable seeing the unattended baggage. Honestly, I was scared that the bag contained explosives.

For those who do not know, 'be-vigilant' videos and announcements are continuously broadcast in Singapore public transport systems to be cautious of terrorist attacks.

                                    One of the most common warnings
[ Not long ago, we used to mock the concept and videos so much that for one Halloween I asked manu to dress-up as the SMRT terrorist guy - He just needed a duffel bag, check shirt and cap pulled low! ]

I could see that most of the passengers were equally unsettled. After a while, when I couldn't bear the anxiety any more, I stood up and asked whom does the baggage belong to. Nobody knew for sure and they started asking each other as well. After few moments, a guy came forward and owned up. I requested him to man his bags as it makes people uncomfortable. I could visibly see the difference in the crowd. People started to relax and started concentrating on their own activities, after that. Some even thanked me for putting them out of their worry.

The moment I reached office, I went to the vending machine to buy hot chocolate with extra sugar, just to feel safe and comforted. That is when the impact of the situation hit me! I felt threatened by a guy who had put his few bags at a convenient place where he could keep an eye on them. (Only he can explain the logic behind putting them so far away from himself.) The very thing which I used to make fun of - the overcautious nature of Japanese and Singaporean society has finally caught up with me.

I can’t stop questioning my current level of trust upon the society and strangers. Should I be redrawing my limits, with a higher tolerance level ?

On a related note, my fear could be all because I watched Zero Dark Thirty, last night.

1 comment:

Shanks said...

I can still remember the day we had lunch at Technopark,TVM after you had just returned from Japan.

The annoyed look on your face - when the restau was buzzling -- 'just as usual' is what i felt.

Time to get a PR card madam. Its high time.