13 July 2012

man, bus, rain, - first aid

Man, bus, rain.

Strings of water, poured down over the city and traffic plunged around in the wet lakes on the road.
I was comfortably settled in the Traders Hotel,  because it has the fastest and most stable wifi internet access I've been able to find in town.
Unlike the usual short shower, this one lasted over an hour and half, and eventually settled to a comfortable drizzle.

Trying to go home, Taxis were hard to get.
That's ok, exercise is good for you, payment for all that time sitting still, eating  chocolate cake.
I make my way along BoyokeAung San street, past the Railway station ticket area, past the cinemas, and under the bridge with the huge LED screen showing advertisements.
(It's all a bit like Blade Runner, the rain the darkness the advertising sign, people milling about, the rich the poor the glitzy cars.).
Just before the Asia Plaza Hotel, is a bus stop.
A bus pulls up its engine roaring, the driver isn't in the mood to stop for long. In fact it he doesn't even pull off the road, he just stops and people push in. The rain gives them an extra urgency.

For some time I've noticed the crazy aggressive way busses in Rangoon/Yangon drive. Greg, explained it's like that because the crew rents the bus, for a flat fee. The more passengers they transport and the faster they go, the more money they make for themselves.

Then another buspulls up, engine running fast, growling and shooting out exhaust way more than is necessary.This one undercuts the first, it screeches to a halt and takes the space between the sidewalk and the bus in the middle of the road.
Clever but risky.
I get a bad feeling about this. There is lots of rain, it's dark, people darting in and out of traffic and the roads are slippery.
'These guys are pushing their luck, something's got to happen to get them back to earth. These thoughts go through my mind.
I feel bad because I realize, that if not now, sometime, somewhere enough people have to get hit and injured to drive the message home.
I wish it wasn't like that.
This situation simply can't go on like this and NOT hurt people.

I remember a time 11pm at night, when I caught a bus back from north of the Rangoon/Yangon airport. I was the only passenger. The driver and the conductor drove the bus like a racing car, overtaking every other car and truck. Then behind me another bus pulls closer. They are racing all the way to downtown Yangon. I get scary images of the bus rolling down the road on its side.
But it didn't.
They kept overtaking each other. 
I have to grip the supports with both hands to avoid being tossed around the inside of the bus.
I thought about getting off and catching a cab.
But I didn't.

The bus that's squeezed in loads its passengers faster than the first one and it pulls up ahead of the first one. Oh, I get it, they are racing (again).
I can almost hear the driver snicker and laugh as he pulls out and passes his rival. The engine is howling in pain.
The other bus can't let this go unchallenged: Smoke pours out of his exhaust and the crunching of gears and whining of the engine as he gives chase.
Suddenly the leading bus stops. 
Very fast. It crunches to a halt. 
That's weird I think why would he stop in the middle of the road ?
The pursuing bus has to brake really hard not to run into it.
I'm impressed, those breaks really work.

As I get closer I see a middle aged, 40 ish well built man lying on the road. I think the bus went over him. There is no external blood but he is totally out of it. 
Like a doll. Leg at funny angle. 
Everyone stands around in shock, keeping a meter of distance from him.
I hold his hands and feel for a pulse. Can't feel anything much, but I'm calling on the higher guides and all spirits/gods/Buddhas out there to help.
He gives some mumbled grunts, makes a few movements, but does not regain consciousness.
Internal injuries could be horrific. 
I don't want to think about it. OMG.
Who knows what's going on inside him.

The crowd moves in now, and I'm part of the crowd and a few guys decide to move him. Out of the way of the road.
Others collect his wallet, bag, stuff money from his top pocket back into his chest pocket, which is ripped.
At this point I drop his hands and let them take over.
Only later do I realize it would have been good to put him on his side, check the tongue and  all the physical first aid stuff that I thought I knew.
Head knowledge versus real knowledge. Hm...

Not knowing what to do and losing my own head a bit I call two Burmese friends who live  in town, but there is not much they can do. There are lots of local Burmese helping  already and soon a pickup truck arrives and takes him away.
The last I see of him,  he is being cradled by one of the younger men, as the car takes off quickly.
Should I have gone with them ?
To do what ?
Do energy stuff ? I can do that from the hotel room.
No, that's fine.
Though the CPR of first aid would have been useful.... hm...

I realize how little I'm prepared for this kind of emergency, and that I need to brush up my first aid training.  Once I'm working for RMIT again, I'll ask for first aid training again. The lady that taught me last time was a dedicated soul who told story after story of applying her first aid knowledge. Hm....

Actually as I write this a few hours later in my room, I feel the man has already crossed over - he's on the other side.
He said thank you.


Road safety stuff would help, but the system of charging a flat fee for the bus encourages the crew to drive as fast as they can, cramming in as many people as they can.

On top of that, the bus drivers have a  kind of mucho bravado about racing each other. It's a deadly combination where muchismo aggression and profit motive all combine and meet in one point: drive as fast as you can with as many people as you can and beat the others guys.
Even if it rains. Your are big and powerful.
Roar the engine, scare the pedestrians out of the way Yeeeehhhhhhhhhharrrr ......
Kings of the roads we is.....


Outside the hotel I stay in , a particular bus line's busses scream down the road with the engine howling and the bus swaying up and down side and back like a mad horse. It's always loaded with people.
The slightest error or unforeseen carelessness ....
I don't want to think about it....
And I managed not to,  -- until tonight.

I really understand the links between how a financial system shapes what happens on the ground, and how it happens.... 
The rules made on paper, translate into a different reality on the ground. 
Some saves lives, 
others cost lives... 

12July2012, Rangoon/Yangon,
Heiko Rudolph,
Motherland inn2 Guest house.


  1. More than 100 people have died in southern Nigeria after a tanker carrying petrol crashed.

    The authorities say the vehicle did not immediately burst into flames, so nearby villagers rushed to collect the fuel.

    But the tanker then exploded, burning many of them to death.

  2. Very interesting reading, at the same time horrifying experience it must be for you. I do hope the guy makes it. You wrote it so beautifully like a novel and I wished it is just a novel. very tragic. I hate those bus and truck driver in Laos and Thailand. They have very little regard for bike's riders and pedestrian's life. It seems like just a game, a power game to them

  3. Sadly the motor vehicle is treated with more dignity than human life


Aswan, Egypt, Tombs of the Nobles