Tuesday, 2 July 2013

The Dirty Picture

What did you expect? Vidya Balan in polka dots? 

This is far more real, and despite my camera cringing to this hateful view, I shot this a few years back while travelling in West Bengal, not really knowing why. Today, I make it my centre piece of what is to follow because it is time we realize - that which disgusts need to be discussed too, and rather urgently.

We keep our homes spotless clean. We hawk-eye the maid as she sweeps, use a magnifying glass to check if the bathroom tiles are dirt-free and keep our thick-lidded dustbins far removed from all that we call healthy. Or divine. Our family deities are cleaned and fed as a routine, resting on slabs which shine like mirrors in dedicated spaces never short of a penta-sensual treat, full of scents and colours. Colin shines the TV, Mr. Muscle the kitchen, Lizol the floor and Harpic along with its poorer cousins the bathroom. We work our muscles and our minds out to assure ourselves and ours a spic-and-span living. Within the four walls of what we call our home.

 But, ‘Cleanliness is next to godliness’ only at home. Everywhere else … we practice a different religion!

Missed the garbage truck in the morning? Look left-and-right once, then leave the knotted polythene bag under a tree, forget about it and feign complete ignorance about the used diapers and beer cans strewn around by the dog. Finally, blame it on the said dog in the next RWA meeting, and dash a letter off to MCD to do something about these stray canines, such dirty menace each one of them is. Go home, wake-up to another day of shining the crystal and dusting the divine.

Enter the mall bathroom. Use half a roll of toilet paper on the WC to spread under your spa clean behind to keep it further clean, and then quickly crumple it and throw it in the corner. Dustbin? Why bother opening it! Flush? I pressed the button and zoomed out so it must have gone. Wash hands, let the water drops fly, and the fallen soap drops dot the slab, and hurry - need to powder and paint before the movie starts. Don’t forget to drop a coin into the cleaning woman’s hanky and certainly don’t forget to share notes with your friends about how ill-maintained this mall’s bathroom is. Yuk!

God is great and so we have come to the temple on a holy Tuesday. Step over the beggars, banana peels and what’s left of the day’s holy happenings and find your way into the sanctuary of the divine. Bathe him and her, alike. Then, touch your eyes and ears, head on the ground, hands joined in surrender and contribute your 2 cents in the donation box. Grab the prasad in the leafy plate, eat it with relish after a little prayer and throw the empty plates right outside the temple gate, where a hundred other plates wait - with sniffing dogs, wary cats, dying flowers, happy flies and disease - waiting in prayer too perhaps for deliverance from this holy mess!

Here is another picture from the same holiday. We do not like to read the writing on the walls. Even if it says ‘please’ or 'thank you' and especially if it asks a favour of us in the form of basic civic sense, which we have no time or will to grant. Within our mansions the walls do not carry messages, but photographs, show pieces and precious paintings. Without, it’s not our problem and neither our job. Is it only that we don’t like to follow or obey, and that we don’t like to be told to behave a certain way? Or is it actually a contradiction – between the inside and the outside, of not just our homes but of our very being.

Something that we know is called Hypocrisy. 

Really Dirty Picture. Don't you agree?


  1. We Indians are much like the Italians...both keep the PRIVATE space clean and occupied as FAMILY and the PUBLIC space as that of the NOBODY's or GOVERNMENT's responsibility...very much that of a moron....he he he..thats what the PREFECT picture is of the public place..if it is clean WE are the ones who has the RESPONSIBILITY to make it dirty...perfect contrast to our HOMES which are clean and not that of GOVERNMENTS...but OURS...WE confuse 'OURS' as PRIVATE and 'ours' as that of GOVERNMENTS...

    1. I read your comment aloud with the right stress on the right words. :) I agree with you, including the emphasis on all caps. :) Thanks for stopping by!

  2. What did you expect? Vidya Balan in polka dots? Seeing the 'dirty picture' of the toilet and read this line made me laugh. Jokes apart. I cringe and squirm at the thought of using a public toilet on holidays. Sakshi , you have rightly pointed out our obsession for cleaning our homes but dirtying public places without giving an iota of thought for civic sense.

    1. That was the idea. What starts with a laughter does not usually displease. :D Plus, it gets one to pay more attention to what you are trying to say. And civic sense, what do you mean? What is that? The name of an extinct bird or something? ;) Thanks for reading, Kalpana. :)

  3. I agree...we Indians have almost no civic sense at times. Like Kalpana said, loved your opening line :)

    1. Oh, we don't. We have sense only within our homes.
      Thanks for reading, Sugandha. :)


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