Thursday, July 05, 2007

I consider myself fairly averse to risk-taking. If the category had existed in my senior high school yearbook, I'm pretty sure I would have been voted "Most Likely to Err on the Side of Caution." Every once in awhile, though, I tend to do something stupid and ill-advised. After I think, "Hmm....not a good idea," I sometimes follow up the thought with, "but I think I'll do it anyway." Where does this tendency come from? I don't know, but it seems to make its appearance in India more often than in the States. Example: what was I thinking last summer when I rode from Nehru Bazaar in the old city to Jawahar Nagar side-saddle on the back of a strange man's motorcycle with no helmet? Couldn't tell you, other than "Not a good idea, but I think I'll do it anyway."

Last night, when Elliott called me to say that a bunch of students were setting off fireworks on the roof of the Institute at 8:30 in celebration of U.S. Independence Day, the first thing out of my mouth was, "Wow, that sounds dangerous." The second thing out of my mouth was, "Okay, I'll see you there." Let me just say: there's a reason that fireworks factories in India burn down a lot more frequently than they do in the U.S.: they're incredibly fucking dangerous. So, going to the roof a building while a bunch of undergraduates were playing with matches and unregulated fireworks was just a stupid idea all the way around. Somehow Julia and I thought, "Well, maybe it will be okay," so we went.

I really can't type out all the profanity I used last night, but lets say it was repeated loudly multiple times. There is no way any civilian should ever be playing around with that level of explosive, particularly young people who have no sense of danger. The first one that went off probably could have been heard up at Nagarh Fort, it was so loud, and if we'd been in the States, someone would have called the police. The second was slightly smaller, but the third one, which shot balls of green fire into the air, and then subdivided into more green balls of fire, was lit without warning the people standing around. No one got hurt, but I could see disaster coming when people started scrambling away from the firework. The fourth one exploded after it was done shooting sparks, sending flaming pieces in all directions.

Julia and I decided it would be a good time to leave.

I haven't heard of anyone getting hurt, and I'm really surprised. I know I'm old and cranky, but it really is stupid to allow college kids to play with such dangerous toys, particularly when it's no secret that the fireworks industry here is far from regulated. So, hopefully that's my stupid decision for the summer, and I won't have to flag down strangers to ask for rides to remote locations, or go mountain climbing in inclement to get my adrenalin fix.

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