Saturday, October 29, 2005
Glorious Indian Culture
“Do people still throw things out of the windows? Here it was a New Year's Eve custom to throw out all the old stuff before letting the new year in. There was a woman near here once, who used to throw all her rubbish out the window and when somebody complained she said, what else am I supposed to do with it?”
Sounds like India? No that was a remark from Julia who lives in Savonna, in Italy. Julia had just read the first chapter of “Memoirs of a laidback Rebel” and figured out that Indian customs were similar to those in Italy.
Well, I looked out of the window yesterday afternoon and these are the things I saw lying scattered in the compound: a pile of chipped tiles, a large marble something or other (from where I was I couldn’t quite tell if it was a tub or the top of a table or what). An untidy pile of black gravel. Some untidy weeds sprouting in the gravel. Cardboard boxes. Piles of stones. It’s all been there for days. People in Bombay are constantly having their flats renovated and of course the entire mess lies outside the house, for the whole world to see. Inside it’s marble and parquet flooring etc. but the same people obviously DO NOT CARE A FUCK how the outside looks. I have actually seen people sitting in the back seat of a Mercedez Benz and spitting out of the window. Maybe the very idea of cleanliness is a Western import.
The other day, sitting out on the balcony of my grandmother’s house, which overlooks the sea, we were assaulted by a foul smell. It seemed to be burning rubber or something. The next evening a neighbour who dropped by informed us that the building secretary had attempted to keep the premises clean by organising a huge bin for the hutment dwellers who have taken up residence just outside the garden walls, on the seashore. To start with, he himself, together with a few people collected fifty big bags of rubbish from the shore and put it into the bin. That was probably the only time the rubbish was collected and thrown into the bin. To get to the bin people had to walk about fifty meters. That's too much of a walk of course. Thereafter rubbish has been collecting again on the rocks – paper, plastic bags, rubber tyres, boxes, you name it – and all this is periodically burned so as to be got rid off.
Well, I tell myself it is all part of our great Indian culture. Maybe to even suggest we clean up, that we put an end to this burning of garbage as and when, and wherever we feel like, to suggest that we stop spitting or pissing around the place would be an infringement of public rights. And of course we want to be faithful to this centuries old culture and not inhibit our people in any way.
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