THIS IS A TRUE NARRATIVE of a very scary event that took place at the crossroads of the Nana Chowk junction of Mumbai, India, several years ago when I was still a school-going girl. It is embedded in my mind for good reason.
Someone noticed an abandoned, suspicious-looking shoe box. There was high panic and high drama followed by frantic calls to the police station. The latter sprung immediately into action and called out the Bomb Squad to the scene of the crime. The Bomb Squad dropped everything in hand and rushed at once at the spot in full protective gear, garbed with helmets and with their sensitive bomb detecting equipment. They approached the box very slowly and gingerly – forever fearful that the bomb would imminently explode. A ticking sound was heard and this led to further desperation and high paranoia.
The box was, at last, carefully opened – only to discover a woman’s shockingly black, discarded petticoat in it. I will leave you to imagine the untold relief of all the bystanders gathered around. It was so funny after all the melodrama – we had a good, hearty laugh.
This is what happens when there’s an unnecessary hype and panic in a group of gathered people – it leads to a chain reaction of unwarranted actions. I learned about this phenomenon in Social Psychology during my college days.