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Saturday, September 20, 2014

Of feeling safe

So how does one define feeling safe? Being in a safe region? Being in the arms of someone who makes you feel secure? Being in the home one grew up in? Being comfortable wherever they are? Being in a place that is protected?

This is not something that I have really thought about in details ever before. But this is something that has been a matter of great significance to me in the last few days.

I am on an assignment in a region that is considered "unsafe" by parameters defined by a certain world geographically and politically more powerful and secure. I do not know what these parameters are, I do not know how these "secure" worlds define the safety that people from this region feels. Or whether they think that the people of this region do not consider their lives precious enough to be protected, their families are more dispensable and their happiness and joy more compromisable than mine.

To ensure that I am safe and secure, I am put up in a highly secured housing complex that has electric fences running around it and manned by guards 24/7. I am driven to my work and to all my chores (including grocery shopping) by a company provided car. I am not allowed to take a walk outside my housing complex by myself and I am not allowed to travel outside the capital city. If I am in a shopping mall, I am accompanied by my driver always, pushing my shopping cart around or taking me to the ATM to withdraw money. I depend on the driver on the route he chooses to drive me to office or to drive me back. I am not allowed to drive myself around or take any form of public transport. If I need to travel to remote areas for project work, I need to take prior approvals and will mostly be driven by my company provided car.

I have never felt so unsafe in my whole life...

With all these security measures taken to keep me secure in this region for the duration of this project, why is it that I feel so unsafe?

I tried to analyse this observation further. I have done my bit of travelling. I have been to unknown places all by myself for the first time. I have been to precarious situations and managed to get myself out of those. I have travelled at night, by myself, in train compartments through foreign countries where I did not even understand the language. I have walked through dark lanes in some notorious parts of my country and have managed to come out unscathed. I have travelled at mid-night in NY tube with drunk hobos. Was I plain lucky all those times? Was I foolish to have done that? Did those experiences teach me nothing but the fact that I am an idiot to have found myself in those situations?

May be, yes. But may be, just may be, I survived all those situations because I allowed my natural instincts to settle in. My inherent sense of survival was sharp and vigilant and that made me feel confident and secure about my surroundings. I do not have that now. If today I am attacked on my way to office, I will never know how to get myself out of the situation. I will simply be dependent on my driver. 

So truely what makes someone feel secure? Not the fact that they are in the arms of their loved ones, but the fact that they know they have the option to protect themselves in their own way if required? Not the fact that they are living in a secured complex, but the fact that they know their surroundings and can find their ways out of it? Not the fact that they have financial security but the fact that they know how to use it?

I have always tried to look at life and the experiences that it offered as opportunities to know myself better, to appreciate this life that I have and to be a better person. This is also an experience that I have never had before. I would like to think that at the end of it I will get some positive learning out of it. But for now, I hope, I do not end up being paranoid so much so that I do not feel secure anymore once I am back in my natural surroundings and lose my basic instincts of survival.

Are people who live here not happy? Are the kids who go to school everyday or the youth who go to the discotheques do not feel secure? When is it that you feel safe? And when is it that you do not? Should one really allow someone else or some set of procedures to define their respective safety and security? What are your thoughts? Please share.

*I typically refrain from writing vivid personal experiences in my blog. But this is an observation that's been bugging me and my blog is the only place where I let out anything that affects me, so please bear with this ranting if you find yourself here.


Ayon said...

Good one and very insightful as ever D.

Stay safe !

Cheers !

Navoneil said...

Engrossing as always but also something I vividly identify with as I've had some similar experiences and thoughts on this exact subject (and for somewhat similar reasons, although not quite as extreme).

If you ask me, I agree completely that it's the paranoia born of overly safe and ultra-pasteurized measures (which themselves owe themselves to the real or perceived notion that one is an especially vulnerable target) that leads to the feeling of physical insecurity and lack of safety.

But, having theorized and philosophized as usual, I would still end by saying that I'm happy that you have these measures for your protection, and pray that you are and remain safe.