I am sure many NRI parents would have had the experience I am going to share. It relates to the security systems – both Burglar & Fire proof -installed in the homes of their kin in the USA.
I remember a visit to my cousin`s home in Washington almost 30 years ago.. My wife was with me on her maiden visit to America. On the first day of our visit, after a hearty dinner we had retired to our bedroom on the first floor in the two-level, 4 bedroom home. In the middle of the night I woke up very thirsty. Unfortunately I had forgotten to collect a bottle of water which I always keep next to my bed and consume first thing in the morning. My wife, who had also woken up, volunteered to go down to the kitchen to fetch the water. As soon as she got down and entered the kitchen area, the security alarm started wailing aloud, waking up not only my cousin but I think the entire neighbourhood! I also rushed down. My cousin, who realised what had happened apologised to us for not warning us about the security system. It seems the system could also be connected to the nearest police station when the family goes out of station, locking the home. If a burglar attempted to enter the house, the police station would get the alert and rush to the home to nab the burglar.
The next experience relates to the smoke/fire alarm installed at his home by my son in his one bedroom flat in Tampa, Florida. During my short stays with him every year I would volunteer to cook his daily meals, not only enough for us but also for a few of his close friends who used to barge in to partake the home cooked meals. I was a popular uncle because of the `Home Cooked Meal` service I provided for a few days every year. On the very first day of my visit I forgot the instructions my son had given me regarding the smoke alarm in the kitchen. So I was startled when it went off making a loud noise when I tried to fry something in the Kadai. I did not know what to do. It was a lonely neighbour hood and there was nobody nearby to help. I had to call my son to rush home to help me. To avoid a repeat performance from me, my son ensured that the alarm was covered with a wet tissue paper during my stay at his home so that it did not get activated by the smoke emanating from the items I was cooking. I was told that this smoke alarm is mandatory in any house in USA (as most houses are built on wooden structures) and if found not working when officials come for surprise checks, the owner would have to pay a penalty.
Today such systems are available in India too. Judging by the number of criminal cases that the police is able to solve thanks to the CCTV cameras installed in many residential/ commercial areas, there is increasing demand for such security systems. Senior citizens who stay alone will do well to install security systems in their homes for protection from strangers with malicious intent.
(This article has appeared in Adyar Times issue dt.7-10th January,2018 under my column Rajan`s random Reflections`)