What’s the solution to our filth?

Was in Argentina last week… and again that dreary feeling.

Every time I visit a new place my heart sinks. Why are we (Indians) so comfortable with the filth we live in?

In the more prosperous parts of Buenos Aires and in the slums, in the rural areas bordering Brazil and in the settlements of the indigenous folks in the rain forests I couldn’t find mounds of garbage or people pissing/shitting on the streets.

In the bleakest localities, garbage was packed away in bags and placed on the pavement for pick-up; and no one was pissing and shitting on the streets.

Even in places far poorer than India, with less literacy and a lot more problems — rural Botswana, shanties of South Africa, bombed-out districts of Lebanon (you can add your tripadvisor list to this) — it would be difficult to find the filth to match what our cities/towns can throw up.

Let’s not blame the civic bodies, and let’s not blame the poor, the homeless, the migrants — it’s OUR problem.

How many of us care enough to clear garbage that is not ours? And how many of us care enough to pull up someone who litters?

Last winter at the Aspire park, I got O and her friend to pick up empty wafer packets, juice bottles, cans etc and drop it in the bin — so that their play area is cleaner. A passer-by said: “Why bother. They (the official cleaners) will clear up in the afternoon.”

Yep, let’s wait for someone else to clear the crap we are responsible for!

In Chennai, R & I used to hang out at the Besant Nagar beach almost every night, and we would spend a good portion of our (date) time just picking up garbage (that was safe to handle with bare hands) or ticking off people who were littering. Well, he did more of the former, and I took care of the other task (of what use is a loud voice, if it can’t be used to shout at idiots?).

Let me tell you, it was neither satisfying nor gratifying a task. No one cared. We were just the idiots who had nothing better to do.

End of this session of my self-righteous vent.

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Umm Oviya + Nilah = Mother of Oviya + Nilah. Because in the Arab world a woman is first addressed as bint X (daughter of X) and then once she has a son (Y) she is Umm Y. I am not sexist, so don't mind surrendering my identity to my daughters.

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9 comments on “What’s the solution to our filth?
  1. This bothers me too UmmOn. We carry a bag in the car where ever we go, but are occasionally given a look that conveys the other person doesn’t think that’s a good idea. Sometimes I try to convince – sometimes I just ignore the reaction.

    And please do pick this tag – it would be a pleasure to find out if you have ever sinned against gender stereotypes –
    http://indianhomemaker.wordpress.com/2010/06/30/my-sins-against-gender-stereotypes/

    • UmmON says:

      will do the tag… been working on it, just to get my tone right :)
      and yes, we carry plastic bags in the car too. and on the days we don’t, we litter the car and clear it up later, instead of throwing stuff out on the roads.

  2. Nilu says:

    I was wondering where you disappeared.

    Believe me nothing exasperates me more than seeing other people litter!! And I am not as brave as you as to chide other people, I just do my own bit and hope others will follow my example.

    Nice to see a post from you after a while!!!

  3. sindhu says:

    I was hoping there would be more about the beautiful sights (the ones you mentioned on the phone) you saw there…
    Filth, well,I suppose it is engrained in our systems to litter our surroundings. And also waiting to see you do the tag mentioned above..am sure you have more than ten points to bring up.

    • UmmON says:

      one of the beautiful things was how people took pride in keeping their country clean.
      travelogue update only after the print one appears.

  4. chapter18 says:

    But Chennai now looks more cleaner and greener, perhaps the movement started by people like you really caught on in unexpected ways.

    Narayanan

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