Happy Gandhi Jayanti to Everyone!
When I went out jogging this morning, I saw something that was a treat for the eyes. I saw middle-aged, pot-bellied, khaate-peete ghar ke aadmi (and I mean “aadmi” in the gender-ic sense,) going around the colony with gardening scissors, dust-pans, and brooms. I almost dropped dead! Any Indian knows that khaate-peete ghar ke aadmi (men of affluent families who can be identified by their paunches and receding hairlines) never touch a broom or a dust-pan. Even their women-folk don’t. It’s beneath them. Why? Even the Chhotu who has a rehri in the colony market has a chhotu who sweeps the 6 ft square around his master’s rehri and dumps the kachra in the naali that’s in front of the market.
And yet, here they were. Pot-bellied and avuncular, with their MIG/HIG status worn with pride on their shiny hairless bald pates, going around the park with dust-pans and brooms! Awesome sight. I did a double-take. I looked again to see if there were one or two who had jumped across the naali to face the park to take this opportunity and empty their bladders. I know as well as any other Indian that if such an opportunity presents itself, most of them won’t be able to resist their urge to unzip and unload.
They painted quite a picture. Their clothes were free of dirt, washed by the kaamwali, pressed by the istri-wallah (dhobi); their faces were lit with a righteousness that they had earned through 15 minutes of back-breaking effort! They picked up all the clean kachra – the crumpled paper, the twisted plastic bottle; they left the other kind of kachra like rotting fruit & vegetable peals, damp leftover tea-leaves, sticky broken egg-shells, soggy rotis/double-roti behind. It shall be picked by the municipality guys. What the hell? They were at least doing something, weren’t they?
- I wonder if they’ll ever do it again…let alone every day?
- I wonder how many of them reached home and took a nap, because when you’ve not lifted a finger for fifteen years, fifteen minutes of holding a broom-stick could actually give you carpel tunnel syndrome.
- I wonder how many of them will not throw a chocolate wrapper or empty plastic mineral water bottle out of their car-window.
- I wonder if they’ll actually start walking to the bin in the park corner instead of littering the park.
- I wonder if they’ll learn to hold their bladder until they found a public urinal and stop peeing against the walls.
But then, at least a beginning is being made.
So Hooray for Swachh Bharat Mission and Hooray for all those MIGs and HIGs and BIGWIGS who have finally taken to the broom!
Hindi to English Dictionary:
Khaate-peete ghar ke aadmi: Indian men of affluent families who can be identified by their paunches and receding hairlines. Note that Paunches and receding hairlines = Respect and Status…and the title of Uncle. (I dread the the inevitable!)
Rehri: Road-side cart
Kachra: Waste/Household Garbage
Istri-wallah: The guy who’s got a temporary establishment in residential areas where he presses the clothes of the khaate-peete ghar ke log (people.)
MIG: Middle Income Group
HIG: High Income Group
BIGWIGS: Who doesn’t know them?