Save your brain, wear a helmet

melvin durai - helmet






by Melvin Durai

It’s illegal to drive a motorcycle or scooter without
wearing a helmet in India, but you wouldn’t know that
from watching all the two-wheelers on the road. Only
a few people wear helmets, the ones who have decided
that their brains are worth saving.

The rest just shrug and say, “What are the chances
I’ll be in an accident? And even if it’s my unlucky
day and I’m in an accident and get thrown off my bike,
what are the chances that I’ll land on my head? And
even if I do land on my head and damage my brain, what
are the chances that I won’t be able to continue doing
what I do now ”“ ride around helmetless without using
my brain?”

With so many people exhibiting attitudes like that,
it’s no wonder the District Collector of Indore,
Madhya Pradesh, tried recently to enforce the helmet
laws by instructing petrol pump operators to bar
helmetless drivers from refueling. The “no helmet, no
petrol” rule remained in effect for a month or so,
compelling some drivers to wear anything on their
heads that resembled a helmet: a metal bucket, the
lid of a milk can, a hollowed-out pumpkin.

melvin durai - pumpkin_helmet (1)






I’m not sure if the pumpkin wearer was involved in
an accident, but if he was, he probably discovered
what researchers have known for years: pumpkins save

Granted, they mostly save lives through the nutrition
they provide us, but wearing a pumpkin over your head
is better than wearing nothing at all. And if you
choose the right pumpkin, you might even look more
attractive than usual ”“ and not just to hungry people.

The District Collector of Indore should be commended
for his initiative, even if it ultimately failed. Not
only did drivers find ways to circumvent the rule, the
Madhya Pradesh High Court decided to suspend it, at
least for the time being, until all the judges have
purchased helmets.

I’m not sure why it’s so hard to enforce the helmet
laws. Perhaps the police are just too busy with other
duties, such as directing traffic around the body of
the poor motorcyclist whose head met the asphalt.

But even with no enforcement, you’d think people would
come to their senses and realize the importance of
wearing a helmet. But they apparently have a number
of reasons for eschewing a helmet. Here are just five
of them:

1. Appearances. When you’ve just spent hundreds of
rupees getting your hair styled, you don’t want to
cover it up with a helmet. After all, no guy has ever
turned to his friends and said, “Check out that girl.
What a cool helmet she’s wearing.”

2. Discomfort. Until you get used to them, helmets
may cause you a little discomfort. But if you’re
concerned about discomfort, wait till your head hits
the pavement. When the paramedic asks you if you’re
feeling any discomfort, you’ll have a good mind to
give him some.

3. Heat. In the sweltering heat of India, the
discomfort you feel in wearing a helmet is often
multiplied. It can get so hot inside a helmet that
your brain may feel fried. But you should always
remember the wise saying that’s been passed down for
ages: better to feel fried than to have died.

4. Illusion of safety. In many cities, traffic often
flows so slowly that motorcyclists have an illusion of
safety, believing that they’re in no danger. It
doesn’t help that they’ve watched lots of Bollywood
movies. Even if another vehicle hits them and they get
flung into the air, they’ll just land in the passenger
seat of a convertible that happens to be going by,
with an attractive driver smiling at them.

5. Obstruction of view. Some drivers believe that
helmets obscure their view. When they’re not wearing
a helmet, their visibility is much better and they’re
able to see almost everything. They can even spot the
tiny crack in the road, just as their head is about
to meet it.

Melvin Durai is an Illinois-based writer and humorist, author
of the humorous novel “Bala Takes the Plunge.” A
native of India, he grew up in Zambia and has lived in North
America since the early 1980s. Read his humor blog at   Write to him at

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