Call It A Day

There are people who wish to call it a day even before the day breaks. And then there a few people who strive to call anything and everything about our existence a day. We are aware of the number of bizarre International Days that we all celebrate. Most commonly celebrated are the days for different relations. If India had it its way, we would have had to celebrate some relation every day and all of 365 days of the year would still fall short of accommodating all the duur-ke-hai-par-apne-bahut-kareeb-hai rishteys. I was just going through the UN’s list of such days, and I have realized that we have a day for everything that we would rather not celebrate in life. Like Cancer Awareness Day, World Tuberculosis Day, Refugee Day (yes, we have a day for people who do not have a country), Sparrow Day, etc. We probably need to figure out how and why Fathers’, Mothers’, Daughters’, Sons’ Day made it to the list. But erm..

So today is World Toilet Day, or as I like to call it To-Let (out) Day.

On this auspicious day, I would like to put end to one discussion once and for all – Wash It, Not Wipe It! Let’s face it guys, beneath every excited scream – “Yaay, I am going for a Euro Trip!” there is a – “Oh hell, toilet paper again!” Why west, why?

Let’s try and imagine what must have happened. There was an early human, fascinated and astonished at something stinky coming out from his body, while looking at a beautiful sunset view across the lake! And then thinking – Shit, this feels dirty! He looks at all the water and wonders, “I used it for cleaning the house, having a bath, washing, rinsing. Oh my God, that’s too much for something so fluid. How can I use it to wash my poop?” Amidst all this worrisome thinking, he sees a tree, and goes like – Idea! And he cuts the tree, slices it, makes paper, and rolls them, and pats his back while patting dry his…IT DOESN’T MAKE ANY SENSE!

Well, anyway. I am getting so carried away, as if I am going to Europe tomorrow! Meh. Let me come to the reason why we need this day. To put things in perspective, there is about one-third of the world’s population that doesn’t have to choose between water and paper, because they do not have a toilet!

Fun Fact: There are more number of mobile phones in the world than there are toilets.

Untitled.pngActually, people are building toilets these days. In my two years of experience in this field, let me take you through the easiest and quickest way to construct a toilet:

Step 1: Find an images of slums and villages, and play them on slides with sad music.

Step 2: Also attach photographs of toilets in disuse, toilets filled up with garbage, field sized areas of sewage and stagnant water, which accompany explanations of why we need to reinvent the toilet.

Step 3: Then add images of women in India walking into fields to relieve themselves with captions about their vulnerability and statistics of their likelihood of being assaulted.

Step 4: FIND pictures of happy people standing in front of their shiny, newly constructed toilets.

Step 5: Add a quote by Bill Gates or Gandhi for the effect.

Easy-peasy, bro!

PS: The world has a shit of a problem. Butt, don’t call it a day yet.

Oxy-Morons

What I am going to write about now is a actually a paradoxical situation, but I never leave an opportunity to use a bad pun! 😉

Morons – that’s what they actually are.

With ‘they’, I mean people in authority, people who think they have a right to decide who gets what resources, and impact the lives of millions, and people who actually do, but are not responsible enough!

With the work I have chosen to do all my life, I have to visit these tiny villages, sometimes located in the most mesmerising locations! This little world of people has a world of it’s own problems. Here they are struggling to live. To live at least till the next moment, next day. When you visit them, you realise the whole futility of trying to find life somewhere else when we can’t even respect most of them here. Now. At this moment. Alive.

Last week I set out to go to a tiny place, near Kasara.

At the first glance, it was a breath-taking view! Wow. What more could one ask for! I mean people pay crazy amounts to go live in a place like this – be it only for 5 days! I was standing at one of hills surrounding Upper Vaitarna dam, and this village was right in front of me on another hill. What beauty!

But there was no road to get there. So we climbed down the hill we were standing on, and climbed up the adjacent one! No connect, no roads is the just the beginning of their miseries. It did not hit me so hard till we actually reached the village, and oh my, what I saw was what I used to think was just a sure-shot formula for a successful movie! People had no water to drink. TO DRINK. Forget spa, jacuzzi, have a bath, or even cook! Let us not even speak about water therapies! They did not have water to drink, when they were surrounded by a dam, that gives water about 200kms away! I cannot emphasize on this more!

Government is trolling them. In their face!

Can you see the little rocky trench? Can you see a little wet portion above the 3 buckets in the trench? So what actually is happening is, there a few drops of water coming out of those rocks – and this is “paani aaya” situation for them! This is how they fill water. Drop-by-drop. And can you see the queue of vessels? By the time even one fills up, we would have wasted 10 of those – just putting things in perspective!

We have heard this a lot. I mean I won’t say I haven’t seen millions of pictures (award-wining) or videos where people are struggling to fill their bucket. It doesn’t hit you so hard, till you don’t see it. For yourself. It was the saddest, the most helpless moment of my life for me. Very clichéd,  but this was like a “swades-moment” of my life.

I know for a reader like you, this will yet again be another story, heard from someone else-you will empathise with it, may be even agitate a little, but it will not make you think twice before the hot water shower bath! Still, on my end it is attempt to show the reality. And our so-very-efficient government!

You know what was worse? I came home and told about this to a few people, and the reaction I get is – “yeh toh kuch bhi nahi hai, waha toh aisa hai, yahaan toh waisa hai, aur woh toh sabse bura hai!”

Seriously?! Signing off before I can’t stop myself from adding another bad pun!

50 shades of Ban

No one told me when the Make in India was replaced by Ban in India. It is not even funny the number of things we have banned in the last one week.

The only thing that is common in all these bans is our inability to tackle sensitive issues. Banning is running away from the scenario. It is a reflection of our hypocrisy, narrow-mindedness, bias, and cowardice. It shows that we have no faith in our thousands of year old culture and value system, that we are questioning its sustenance.

Having said that banning does not deter the fact that we are what we ban.

I mean if we have to ban anything, implies that it exists, that it is our value-system, a trend now. And banning a video doesn’t change that! Whom are we kidding? Do the policy makers really believe that banning products, actions, videos, and words really curbs their use?  In fact, all it does is people looking for more illegal ways to do “it”, eat “it”, watch “it”, and all this while saying “it”.

Seriously, don’t we all know where to find alcohol in Gujarat? And by now, beef in Maharashtra? Don’t we all use cuss words? Haven’t we seen the AIB Roast or the documentary? In fact, banning the video gave it more popularity, and all the people who did not even know AIB exists, have access to the aforesaid video. And don’t even make me question banning 50 shades of grey.

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I think this simply shows the power of the words don’t, no, ban has. We just have to do it. Cannot explain the psychology more simply. That exactly is how it works, government! “Ban” is not the solution.

There are 50 shades of our mentality to be tackled, and putting even a fraction of our energy in that direction will get a lot more achieved than banning these things.

PS – Let me know when we Ban Janata Party!

Dog-Opoly

A city of dogs – underdogs of the city!

Dog-Opoly is a dog version of the famous board game Monopoly, but it really is the monopoly of dogs on the Indian streets!

And for a dog-fearing person like me, I have always wondered why is the stray-dog population in India so high, as compared to the negligible numbers in the west? Besides being a nuisance to the locality, chaotic, catastrophic for children, unhygienic, noisy, etc., it can actually be quite scary to walk on the lonely streets at nights with howling noises in the background. The fear quotient in me is so high, that it almost makes me feel that I am a part of a “Conjuring” for real! While it may not be appropriate to generalize, but stray dogs have proved to be calamitous for humans in quite many incidents and places. In fact, a number of road accidents occur, of which a few prove almost fatal to a person walking, in order to save the-dog-sprung-from-God-knows-where, and I am not eliminating the chances of their deaths here as well. Thank God for the law in 2001 that forbade the killing of dogs, which was a good-step but has further added to the stray population. “Why doesn’t government create better infrastructure?”, a dog-lover or any person-with-a-heart may ask. But in retrospect, we do not have proper facilities for more than half the population, let alone the thought of the thick-skinned people on top melting at the their plight. And we haven’t even started talking about pigs, donkeys and other more “bechara” animals on streets yet!

Quite a few people by now probably must already have started hating me for my perspective on this particular situation, but in all practicality it makes sense. I mean I understand that they also are a breathing, eating, pooping, moving, barking-but-unable-to-talk-and-express-their-plight (and so are chickens we eat?) kind of creatures, but in my view we need to re-think the extent to which we take things emotionally and start introducing practical solutions to the existing grave problems- a journey from sensitive to sensible.

When I did my research I realized the main reason was our hygiene habits. It is the unattended litter on the roads, which actually is a feast for the strays, and hence they survive for long and strong. This is the prime reason. We as a culture are quite messy, always blame the incapable and inactive government for improper infrastructure, and on the other hand don’t even maintain sanitation regime on personal level! We really do not need to wait for a few intellectuals to instruct us, “do not litter” boards everywhere, Satyamev Jayate, or a Prime Minister to start a ‘Swacch Bharat Abhiyan’ to know the importance of cleanliness. It is only clearing of litter, and not killing the strays, that will solve the problem – quicker than anything! It is common sense to not litter, and should be followed as a protocol, otherwise the efforts of a handful will go to the dogs. Literally.

Apart from that, there are a lot of organisations that neuter and vaccinate the stray dogs – all thanks to the unlike me dog-loving people out there. Let us at least help them help us using whatever way we can – volunteer, provide resources, financial aid, inform about unattended or bruised stray dogs, adopt and get them vaccinated etc. Also encourage more and more people to make stray dog as pets, instead of buying ’em. These solutions may not be quick in their eradication, but probably are first few steps in the planned scheme of reducing their numbers!

Every dog has its day, but with our collective efforts these dogs will have a life. Amen.