What is with us Indians and our litter happy ways? It is disgusting. Repulsive. Shudder worthy. Plop, thump, whoosh, phusshs….we drop, chuck, flick garbage with impunity, there is nothing like too close for comfort.
Is this gene for shabbiness hereditary? Did we inherit the litter chromosome or was it imported by our various occupiers? Between nurture and nature, what is responsible for our completely casual disregard for our environment while all the time clearing our throats, washing our hands, sweeping out our homes. There is no end to the Indian fastidiousness as far as personal and domestic space is concerned but an inch beyond and watch us loosen up the belt and exhale.
I replay my growing up years, looking for that culprit moment that taught me to carry a mess wherever I went. I fail to pinpoint where and how this daredevilry with trash starts. All I can recall are some terribly embarrassing moments. On a Continental flight from Newark to New Delhi, I can never forget that cringing shame filled walk, along the aisle, on way to the exit door….there was muck and mayhem all around. Sloth and slob writ large on the cabin, blankets strewn in ugly heaps, plastic covers plundered to jagged remains, earphones hanging over arm rests, half eaten sandwiches and cartons kissing the floor, newspapers lying in untidy stacks. I also have a crystal clear memory of the ground crew lady who stood shaking her head at the boarding counter, rolling her eyes, “This flight….this flight…”, she kept muttering under her breath.
At a children’s’ function I attended today, there was no dearth of dustbins but the acceptance of filth is so deep rooted and conditioned, everyone walked over the throwaway plastic, no wincing, no commenting, no exclaiming.
We have got to de-clutter our surroundings. Perhaps then we can move on to debugging the minds.
Note: Puppets by Chhaya Pandey and Bhawana Ahuja