Saturday, June 14, 2014
THE CITY YOU PISSED IN
Case 1.The other day stopped at a red light, a few seconds later an Audi A6 pulls up along side, the man at the wheel, well heeled with a Hublot on his wrist, lowers the window and casually drops a disposable plastic glass out the window.
Case 2.On Sunday last, I went to the Darya Ganj book market, and I got there before time, the sweepers where still cleaning up, you could see small piles gathered at regular intervals. Piles of dust and dirt, wrappers, used condoms, syringes, stubbs, bandages, and unrecognizable things, all being collected and then disposed of into a hand pushed cart – by hand.
Case 3.At the Mehrauli bus terminal, there are toilets, that are not used, but a wall is – the toilets are kept locked. I wonder if they did put up toilets would people use them?
My questions then –
A. If we throw garbage outside our gates on the street side, or just some where when people are not looking. And if we have no qualms about dropping the empty chips bag down the side of the auto. Or out the window in the middle of wilderness on a train? Would you piss in a toilet if there was one?
B. Is cleaning up some one else’s job- the governements? The oppositions? The sweeper you so generously pay 50 rupees a month to carry your dirt?
And so –
You can cry hoarse about how bad/unsafe/unlivable/uncivic and third world the city is and so why you like London or Paris or whatever white skinned city is vogue this season.
You can vote all you like for progress and development and safety and whatever other Sh%# you would want - till the day you don’t drop the disposable glass, or flick the wrapper or spit on the curb or stop right across the zebra lines - the city will smell just as it does to me right now –
LIKE A PLACE YOU PISSED IN!
The pattern of growth, urban development and progress of the city doesn’t give you much choice in the matter. Needless to mention is the abysmal lack of civic facilities or the upkeep of the miniscule number of those provided, that is only the tip of the iceberg sized issue.
Systematic privatization and /or restricted access to the city’s so called public spaces has reduced the actual truly democratic spaces of the city into spaces that are often not accessed by and thus uncared for by the citizens who most wield the power to have this spaces well kept.
(We do not want to be in our city any more. We don’t walk its streets, we don’t play in its parks or stroll its boulevards. Our desire for the more progressive energy burning and upmarket and marketable lifestyle has removed us from the city into pockets of isolated synthetic environments which we shudder to move out of. And as consequence the city becomes a monster, not because it is but it is a sort of chicken and egg situation that once set in motion the city presumably remains unsafe because those who want to/can make it safe are no longer willing to be present in it.)
The only truly democratic space in the city is the street, that the middle class and upwardly mobile would be loath to set foot on. They are only fit to drive thru and to make condescending glances at the less fortunate who have yet not risen to the point being able to drive through them. Or the truly economically destitute – the homeless and the nomadic sellers at street light and beggars.
Most public space in the city bears a stance of “Do Not Enter” either in terms of access or control or by a necessarily requiring financial transaction that in self-reflexive manner polices and thus keeping large parts of population out.
So what is left of the city - that you, me, the guy in the fancy imported car and the Metro, the homeless under the may flyovers and the vegetable vendor is that common denominator that you cannot avoid but would never want to possess – It would just be a place you would take a leak in if you if you had to.
Of course another thing is that no one actually belongs to Delhi – no one is a Delhi-ite if that is a tern you can use. You are either Punjabi, or from UP or from Bihar or Bengal or Gujju, or from Kerala or from Bangalore or Lucknow or some other place. Delhi Belongs to no one except the Jatt boys riding about on 350 cc bullets without helmets! And even they are dying to get out!
In some way its like a thru’ station – everyone is passing through – here while it lasts , taking what they can while they can take it and then heading out to some other place. Much like something/someone used.And that doesn’t help.
It’s all cyclical – it’s a city you piss in, because it is a city you piss in!