Friday, October 1, 2010

GARBAGE……………………… and its disposal

After a very “insightful” first blog ( your words…  not mine !) I am now going to write about Garbage!!!

My life is very closely associated with Garbage- there is a garbage bin right outside our gate. It has become such a permanent fixture there now that we have decided to formalize its presence  by mentioning it as a land mark – “ the house next to the Kuppa Thotti” is what  we say while defining where we stay. The years that it has stayed there undisturbed has led to the Corporation authorities deciding to designate the pavement outside our house as THE SPOT for residents of 2nd

Main Road  to dispose their garbage in- they have even built a small little alcove for it to rest in comfort!
So what happens when there is a garbage bin outside one’s home?

Garbage becomes an integral part of one’s existence!

We found  that our home took on the character of  the stands of a football/basket ball stadium. We, as strategically positioned spectators watched  when “missed goals” in the form of garbage bags aimed carelessly landed inside our compound wall. Unfortunately, we did not feel like cheering. In fact, the various maids from the surrounding flats who were the star strikers/shooters in this basket ball/ foot ball match did not pause for us. They left the spot even before we could say “hey”!!!

We thought often of putting up sign boards that say “ Please do not aim your garbage into the bin- remember to throw it in” . But  it was a little baffling to decide which language to use – Tamil or English. We were also not sure if the offenders would read them ( after all there are so many such “preachy” sign boards all across the city). My husband , who is more experienced than me  in communicating with people with lower IQs and shorter attention spans said that we should instead have a sign board that  that read “ Do you want to learn how to aim right? Contact xxxxxxxxx”

But as Indians we spend such a lot of our time making decisions  that when it comes to implementation we find that the situation has changed. This is exactly what happened.

Old age stuck the bin and it began to groan under the weight of its contents. The Corporation authorities decided to replace it – with an even older bin ( I think our bin was not old but “experienced” !) The last I heard , our experienced old bin  was seen on  Warren road (where many VIPS live)  reveling in celebrity garbage.

Meanwhile the new bin found the load of garbage on 2nd Main Road too much to handle. With so many twice born citizens populating the area, there was heavy cleaning of homes twice, thrice and often more in the name of ritual purity. While homes sparkled, garbage started overflowing onto the pavement outside our house . To add to this problem ,we found that all the inner road garbage was being collected by the Corporation authorities and brought all the way to this poor bin. So, we were literally surrounded by garbage which made its way inside our compound and right up to our front door!!

I was amazed at the kind of things that people were trying to dispose off - thermocole sheets being one of them- these huge sheets were flying all around the compound ready to hit any one who was not careful enough to avoid them. The sea breeze did not make life any easier as garbage lifted itself to higher levels moving on to our first floor balcony.

Complaints to the corporation authorities did not result in action. Garbage continued to pile up and be strewn around.

It was then that I decided to take action. Years of experience in the social sector with enough   interaction with “rights based groups” had taught me a few things. One of them being – Communities address a problem only when it is common to all its members. My daughter and I devised an ingenious plan- we would drag the bin to the middle of the road early one morning and topple it over! Garbage would then be strewn all across the main road ( not to mention bits that would take the aerial path into the balconies of the flats nearby). We were almost finalizing the last strategic bits when the daughter in all her enthusiasm decided to share it with her father.

Unfortunately, her father does not believe in “rights based approaches” to problem solving. Poor man, being a diplomat was horrified ( I don’t know what alarmed him more- the outcome of flying garbage across the main road or visions of his wife and daughter pushing a garbage bin across the road). He started leveraging all his contacts. To say I was impressed is an understatement! He called beaureucrats, he called elected representatives, he called opposition parties. As Sir Walter Scott writes in Lochinvar –        “ Fosters, Fenwicks, Musgraves- they rode and they ran”! Calls came on mobile phones, land lines – upstairs and downstairs. Before I could say "Garbage",  I found a fat new bin outside – this time with a lid!!

My daughter is really impressed that even the threat of “direct action” could result in such a quick remedy to a difficult situation. She has shared it with all who care to hear about it. I now feel like a small celebrity in my circle of friends and relatives. People ask me “ Would you really have done it?”. “ Why not ?” I ask.

A week passed. Other things began to occupy our minds and we forgot about this until we had a visiting relative from overseas. A relative. with whom there is no love lost from my side. I don’t know if she had heard through the family grape vine about my travails in the garbage disposal arena or not but I must tell you something- this wife of a high profile banker, brought for me all the way from the US,a “wonderful” gift – a pack of bin liners!!!!

1 comment:

Deepa said...

You must admit that it was a very practical gift. :)) And don't forget they are technically 'imported' bin liners!

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