Thursday, January 22, 2015

The Great Indian Litterbug

A few weeks back I attended my cousin’s wedding in Bangalore. Although I hate going to weddings where there is an unnecessary need to make small talk with strangers, I couldn’t think of an excuse that would get me out of going to this wedding. During lunch time, after much jostling and elbowing and few minor bruises, I finally found myself at the front of the buffet queue, when an elder lady nudged me aside and took my place. I was about to complain when she gave me a look, a look that clearly said that her age and her girth would be no match for my words. I controlled my anger, after all this was not the first Indian marriage I had been to and I knew how old women played the seniority card to embarrass the younger girls, badgering them with questions about marriage and kids.

As I sat down to eat along with my daughter, I saw people piling up their plates in one corner of the room. Even though it was a buffet, where people had a choice to select only the dishes that they wanted to eat, most of the plates were full with uneaten food. Obviously, the guests believed that it was their right to waste food that the bride’s parents had painstakingly paid for. But what perplexed me more was the complete nonchalance among people. Although there was a huge basket to throw the dirty plates and glasses, people kept piling the food laden plates on the floor. Within a few minutes the dinning hall’s corner turned messy and the same people who had strewn on the floor complained about the filth. Talk about short term memory loss!

But it’s not the first time and definitely not the last time we Indians show a complete disregard to rules and proper conduct. Recently Bangalore Municipal came out with a guideline about segregating dry and wet waste which would help in better waste management. Our apartment, following BBMP rules set up large garbage bins, labeled dry, wet, garden and hazardous waste. There were meetings held, warnings about other apartments being fined for neglecting to follow waste segregation, circulars posted on notice boards on how to separate waste. And the result? Plastics bags strewn around the waste bins, sanitary pads and dirty diapers thrown in the hazardous waste, scraps from kitchen thrown in garden bins. Complete mayhem and disagreement amongst the residents on which waste should go where. Apparently men are intelligent enough to travel to moon and back but they are totally clueless when it comes to litter management.

We want to etch and leave the symbol of our individualism on everything that we see, that’s why we like to take a leak on walls with notices such as “Urinating here is strictly prohibited”. The lovey-dovey couples cannot romance in public places, lest they are dragged by a gruff policeman and fined for exchanging couple of kisses behind the bushes. So what do they do? They proclaim their love for each other to the whole world by engraving their names inside a heart on historical monuments using stones. Their love may not last forever but their carving will be forever imprinted on history, see? So don’t be too surprised if you see the same name carved with multiple partners on the walls of Red Fort.


“Raju Sheela” “Raju Nisha” “Raju Meena”. Poor Raju! What a hard time he has had with all the etching he was forced to do for his lovers.

We strive hard to keep our house clean and then throw the garbage outside our home. Of course, we don’t own the road, the government does and it’s the government’s job to keep the road clean, isn’t it?

We spit, throw junk out of moving vehicles and if our trash drops on people driving behind us, then tough luck. They should know better! Perhaps along with a helmet the man riding a two-wheeler also needs a full body armor to protect him from the junk being thrown by the vehicles surrounding him.

And although a public toilet is available within ten feet distance we would prefer our children to pee on the roadside. Public toilet? Ugh! They are so unhygienic! And why suffer in a filthy toilet when we can make use of the abundant nature and the greenery of the bushes to make our Chunnu/Munnu take a leak. Anyway once the boy grows up, he would mark the territories of the walls of this great nation with his holy water! So we are just doing our bit in his early education, no?


We look down upon the cultures of the western nation but when we visit their countries we look at the clean, spotless roads and wonder why India is so dirty and polluted. Maybe we could take a leaf out of their book and learn to pick up our crap and filth from public roads.

This is OUR country, these are OUR rivers, these are OUR monuments and these are OUR roads. WE have a responsibility of maintaining them and keeping them clean.

 This post was written for "The Great Indian Litterbug" contest by Times Of India hosted by Indiblogger.

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