Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Emerging power

India comes tinged with the whiff of Ammonia. This ancient land of Bharat; her air is acrid; this subcontinent called Hindustan and a culture soaked in the smell of piss, pee, piddle.

There is no air tight, vacuumed, sealed space that is completely free of the smell of urine in our country. Neither a seven star hotel, nor the fanciest of our five star hospitals and certainly not the closely guarded cantonment, leave alone the footfall heavy, squeaky mall. The stink is omnipresent, omniscient. There is no getting away. Walking down the road, stopping by a highway, ambling along a lake, racing over a corridor, the pungent waft never leaves you, nauseating, overpowering, and repugnant. I have come to expect it; I go looking for it if it does not hit me in the face right away. It never fails to disappoint. It is always there, lurking, dark and heavy.

At Padmanabhapuram Palace
Just fancy our extreme hypocrisy. We call ‘dharti’ our ‘ma’ and then we go right ahead and urinate on her. We don’t spare our neighbours too. Indian soldiers have been known to step across the line of control just so they can dangle on record their disrespect for the enemy. Bushes, roadsides, debris heaps…it is all ‘janani’ or motherland; I want to tell these numbskulls. What makes them think the rest of the population deserves this extreme disrespect, this total lack of consideration, this consistent absence of plain human courtesy.

You have to see them. All shapes and sizes, making water with that air of right.There is such an unquestioning cultural acceptance of this horrendous habit of personal and open irrigation that no one bats an eyelid at a man parking himself for relief against a public wall. I have had a deranged urge to pick up a thick baton and swing it across those busy rears. Obnoxious, gross, odious.

Facility at Padmanabhapuram Palace
But naturally, the eternal excuse of a lack of toilets. How come one half of the population fitted with smaller bladders can hold it till they get to a proper receptacle? What if they too began to bare the butt and squat wherever and whenever? So much for tradition and conservatism.For one moment, I am willing to give the rural Neanderthals a benefit of doubt. But the urban Homo habilis? Why is he giving us a fissured nasal septum and a permanent twitch of the nose? The sulphurous stench gags you, it cuts through the heat and dust induced haze to graze harshly like long nails across the consciousness. No matter how hard you try to stamp it out, the stink envelopes one’s personal space, swirling and settling in with a final, vaporous curl.

It does not bother the public piddlers that their streams might carry bacteria or be virulent moreover, with some other mischief making germs. It does not concern them that others around are studiedly looking away from the unsightly spectacle in an effort to shut out the sound. Whatever happened to the Delhi government billboards shaming Shri Thu-Thu Kumar (the spitter), Shri Kuda Kumar (the litterbug) and Shri Su-Su Kumar (the person who pees in public).

India most certainly is an emerging power. Emerging from the pants! 

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