Thursday, May 17, 2012

Would I now like to retire in Goa?

As one retires and grows older, the question of where should one live is important. Do we should spend enough thought on it?

In a number of discussions, one of the most important considerations was the availability of excellent hospitals nearby, which almost automatically seems to restrict the options to metropolitan cities.

However, how do we weigh the advantages of excellent health care facilities against the additional risks, like:
  1. Likelihood of being hit by a vehicle.
    A neighbour was hit by a two wheeler about six months ago. It was very minor but our neighbour still limps.
    I recall the frustration my father used to feel for crossing the inner road to go from Shanti Kunj garden to Rose garden. He wrote to the MP and the police to have a traffic light so that old people could cross the road.
  2. Likelihood of additional ailments from pollution and noise.
    When I used to come to Delhi from Goa, I would get a sore throat going from the airport to office or relations' place.
  3. Likelihood of being robbed and injured.
    Life in larger places becomes so anonymous that I am reminded of a Ziggy cartoon - It is amazing how alone you can be in a party!
The nice thing about Goa were the villages, which were more like suburbs.

The issue with the smaller towns in Goa is traffic. The roads are narrow and walking unpleasant.

 I was unhappy at the efforts to make Panaji into a major city as that pushes more people to migrate, leaving the smaller places in decay.

Still, there are villages which are off the main areas and not impacted by traffic. So, finding an area which is comfortable and healthy is still possible.

I now have second thoughts about the need for excellent heath care facilities. I want adequate health care to be easily accessible. Easy access is not at all easy in cities. Beyond a point, the ability to save a life may even be a disincentive.

Chandigarh used to be a great place for retired people. The traffic has made it quite unpleasant. I find it ironic that the police are making a lot of effort for people to stop before the Zebra crossings - yet I see very few pedestrians. Where the pedestrians want to cross - within the sectors - there are no traffic lights or the signals are strange. The driving culture is such that it is hard to stop and let the pedestrians cross.

There are lots of open spaces in Chandigarh. We wanted to take my mother out and it finally struck us. Access to these places in a wheel chair is just not possible. The open space just behind our house has a protective railing and a rotating gate. It ensures that two wheelers cannot use the open space as a short cut, which people would given half a chance. Bicycles do not have a problem as they can be lifted and taken across. However, we can't lift the wheel chair with my mother sitting in it.

Solution - we need better people in the city so that such blockages are not needed. Ernst Lubitsch's Ninotchka had a memorable line - Mass trials in Russia were very successful. Now there are fewer but better Russians :)

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Amazing - Complaints about "Out of Syllabus" taken so seriously

It is depressing to see such silly complaints being given prominence.
This is the second time such an error has been detected during the ongoing law exams. On May 1, the second semester students complained that a 15 marks question was out of syllabus in the unit-IV of examination of Family Law. The two questions that appeared in the Unit III of the same examination were from Unit-II following which majority of the students couldn't attempt the unit.

I kept wondering whether I should be getting upset at the students.

I keep recalling Eugene Ionesco's The Lesson. It had obviously made a deep impression on me when I read it over 30 years ago. Are students dumb or have the teachers killed whatever curiosity and creativity them may have had? I think in India, it is the latter :(

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Traffic lights - timer is useful but may be not for green light

Roy Sutherland gives an example of traffic lights in Perspective is Everything. In Korea, there is a timing indication on red light only and it works to reduce accidents. In China, there is timing indication on both red and green lights and it doesn't improve accident rate - it may even be worse.

Chandigarh uses the 'Chinese' model. I wonder if its effectiveness was ever tested.

It is pretty obvious that knowing how long one has to wait helps cope with waiting. Uncertainty is disturbing.

In the case of a green light, there are conflicting goals. If the traffic is light and a driver knows how long the green light will remain on, he may speed up to reach the junction before the signal changes. On the other hand, knowing that there is not enough time may help us to stop in time before the zebra crossing.

In the case of the green light, it would be enough and, probably, safer if we get information that the light is about to change and nothing more than that. This signal should be obvious.

So, it might be better to have the timer only for red signal. For green signal, it may be useful to have amber light on about 5 seconds or less before the green light goes off, letting the driver know that it is time to slow down and stop.