Can we change?

If I had to pick one thing I hate about living in India, it’s the garbage. More than the garbage itself, I hate what is symbolizes. To me the garbage on our streets indicates that we are indifferent to the condition of our country. We only like to talk about all that’s rotten in the system but never act. We see the filth around us but we still shrug “Chalta Hai” and learn to live with it. But rarely do we do anything about it. I wish we could change that.

Living in Chennai, the first thing I see when I take my coffee into the balcony is women coming out to wash their doorsteps and draw beautiful kolams to welcome visitors home. When I put on my shoes and go for a walk with Chotu, the first thing I see is garbage dumped by the entrance of our compound. What’s worse is that there is no garbage bin in sight. The garbage has been dumped there for no reason at all. Worst of all is that a municipal worker comes to our doorstep every morning to collect garbage. So why is our garbage there? It’s being dumped there by the domestic help who work in this neighbourhood and we just can’t be bothered to handle our own garbage.

As I drive out, I watch a little “construction camp” that’s sprung up nearby recently. The workers who live here build apartments valued in crores but live in little tin sheds. We force people into these living conditions (if they can even be called that) and then can’t even be bothered to give them access to drinking water or toilets. But Oh! The audacity with which we complain about the added garbage and other side-effects such as stench and mosquitoes! Listening to our righteous indignation, one would think they were living there out of their own free will. Either way, we’ve lost our clean pavements and a space to walk.

Driving further I see the roads dug up for water lines but never laid back again. Garbage litters the piles of dirt dug up. The filth attracts rodents and insects. I drive past a bus stop where the tops have been taken off stools and the signs indicating bus routes have fallen off. There’s nothing to identify the bus stop except the crowd waiting there with handkerchiefs pressed to their noses. Empty snack packets, cigarette butts and assorted rubbish litters the area.

The assault just doesn’t seem to stop. Garbage in parks where children should be playing. Garbage on the beach. Garbage in a pile next to every roadside vendor. Garbage on top of the borewell and in the rainwater harvesting pits. Garbage in our oceans and rivers. There’s garbage everywhere.

But our homes? Those are sparkling. Swept clean. Aired out. Dust wiped off every surface. We’re a clean people, you see. Not like the “Westerners” who never bathe*.

* I’d really like to know where this awful stereotype comes from. It’s so false and so common in our country.

This post was inspired by the Indiblogger’s IndiSpire topic of the week.

10 Replies to “Can we change?”

  1. Very true. How we hate it!
    Garbage on the sides of streets and all the places where it is not supposed to be…
    We need proper civic-training as such mindless disposal can cause serious health & hygiene issues.

    1. Thanks! Yes, we cannot see beyond our home or understand that the garbage on the streets ultimately affects us not “the government”. I’m not sure how we’ll ever change…

  2. Really! HATE is an under emotion here. In my colony people have dogs. They send their dogs on a stroll with hired helps and these dogs just relieve themselves around other homes and other people’s car. Maddening!

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