Garbage has raised a huge stink but we’re still obsessed with one end of the problem alone — that of disposal. Maybe we’re staring at the wrong end.
What do you do when buffaloes mysteriously eat away your green cover? Hunt down the real thick-skinned culprits that wallow in public funds!
Until the mid-eighties, our groceries came bagged in old newspapers. We brought home rice and sugar in packages emblazoned with last week’s headlines. Fish and meat were first wrapped in banana leaves and then with brown paper. Beer bottles were surreptitiously swathed in double-rolls of weekend editions. Steel tumblers clanged at the nearby restaurant, then not yet suffixed with Darshini. Weddings were messy affairs even then but stray dogs industriously polished off discarded meals while cows champed on leaf plates. Recycling waste used to be a tradition, until we turned a new leaf.
Some old-timers fondly recall that much-reviled historic event, the Emergency, for a dictatorial government’s efficacy at enforcing law and order. “Trains ran on time, even criminals were shot at sight,” they reminisce with wistful pride. Sure, but why does a democratic society need a schoolmaster to rap its errant knuckles?
Ask your councillors where the parks have gone, and they will point proudly to a software park within ten minutes’ drive. Car parks, they promise, will follow. But a park by any other name doesn’t feel as green.
As man and best friend clash, no one is sure who’s the underdog. Dog-haters growl genocide, arguing that there are too many mutts for comfort. On the other hand, the overzealous Assisi-tants of St Francis whimper that every dog needs a home, never mind that some of us can’t afford the nutritional equivalent of a pack of bow-wow chow. Wait, aren’t we wagging the dog here?
This is Animal Planet of a different kind. Amber traffic lights blink undecidedly as cabs race each other, ferrying early birds to work. Walkers, joggers and cyclists are under constant threat from vehicular predators. Their habitat, the fragmented footpath, has been driven (literally) to extinction. In farther reaches of the galaxy (such as Bellandur), footpaths have not even troubled the imagination of the authorities.
I’m curious about how a wall becomes a magnet for micturition. Back when Sulabh complexes and Nirmala Bengaluru toilets were figments of fantasy, public toilets were fortresses of glazed tiles guarded by cows and dogs and hidden behind foothills of garbage and other fragrant surprises. Forget about pay-and-use, most people wouldn’t accept payment to use them. They preferred to commit the deed at a safe distance. In time, the toilet’s circle of influence extended a good fifty feet from the inner sanctum. These communal relief zones also performed another important function – olfactory land marking.