A Little Civic Sense Goes A Long Way

Posted: April 6, 2012 in About Me

It was a hot Sunday afternoon in the city of Mumbai. I was sitting in an auto rickshaw on the way to a friend’s place at Andheri, waiting for the infamous Mumbai traffic to clear. I was gazing longingly at the cool, delicious icecream in the hand of the kid in the next rickshaw, when a loud “Aye” interrupted my thoughts. I turned back around just in time to see a fat, beefy man pull the driver of my rickshaw out onto the jammed road and start beating him up.  They caught each other by their collars and started a fist fight, disrupting the efforts of an elderly gentleman who, in the absence of a traffic policeman, was trying to direct the traffic. It didn’t take long to find the culprit. It was a big red smear on the fat man’s white Mercedes: my rickshaw wallah seemed to have spit paan on it. Luckily, after twenty minutes or so, the collar grabbing, scuffling and the choicest of Hindi abuses ceased. All of us emerged unscathed except the paan-spewing rickshaw-wallah(who stopped for another paan down the road) and the elderly gentleman who had his glasses broken. This was just thirty minutes into the life of a Mumbaikar.

We love satisfying our own means at others ‘expense.

Our hardworking autowallahs have done a brilliant job of painting the town red. Literally. Take a look at the betel-stained roads and you’ll know what I mean.  It’s not just the autowallahs and the roads. Walls, staircases and public toilets are dyed a fab shade of crimson.

The Famous Paan Stains

We Indians have a penchant for decorating not just the streets, but also the footpaths, with chocolate wrappers, gutkha packets and the occasional cigarette stub. We have an uncanny ability to litter every square inch of the ground beneath us. Footpaths are the new dustbins.

A fat commuter plants his bum firmly on the bus seat and refuses to get up for the little old woman swaying about in the aisle, who looks like she is travelling by public transport for the first time. The world is a wall for our macho males who never miss a chance to pee along the side of the road. The helpful commuters of local trains never miss a chance to grope a woman who by some unforgivable mistake gets into the general compartment. And oh, what fun for the Mawalis to see a Chikni in shorts at Juhu beach! Whistles, catcalls, you name it! We’ll just have a good time at her expense because no one will tell us anything.

The World Is A Wall

Public transport operators idolize Schumacher (especially those young autowallahs) and drive at breakneck speeds, with the slightest regard for pedestrians.
We honk at the vehicle ahead of us, at the hot girl jogging on the footpath or at the sun shining down innocently on the road. It’s like we believe that our honks will have the effect of Moses parting the Red Sea. Parades and processions throng the streets every day making it nigh impossible to navigate the streets. Also, traffic jams: they are not just a clash of cars, but also a clash of respective egos. They adhere to the adage, “Bigger is better.”

Indians and queues never go together. Everybody wants to get on and get off the bus or train at the same time, never mind the courteous protocol of letting the people on the bus/train get off first!

Our Definition of Queue

(above picture courtesy string_bass_dave)

No phone call is so unimportant that it cannot be answered while at a movie theatre where other people are trying to enjoy a movie. The call is not complete until we scream away at the top of our lungs!

While having a perfectly innocuous telephonic conversation with a friend on the bus, there are always some eager pairs of ears leaning in to eavesdrop.

A tiny scrape on the paint of a high end car and its driver will strangulate the driver of the vehicle which did it. With the full support of countless rubberneckers, some of whom have taken it upon themselves to give the perpetrator of the scratch a sound beating.

No You Don't Spoil My Car

These Indians, if and when they do go abroad, never forget to put their trash away in a dustbin, be good to fellow commuters and stand patiently in queue.

Can we stop this home-grown culture of impunity by donning “I am Anna” topis and changing Facebook profile pictures to “Stop Kony 2012” logos?

They say the Mumbaikars’spirit of unity shone through when the 26/11 deluge happened. Must we show solidarity only in times of crisis? There’s no harm in being nice to the stranger asking for directions. There’s no harm in not refusing the flustered auntie a commute in your rickshaw to Kandivali. There’s no harm in keeping the roads clean, if nothing else.

Is it so arduous a task to keep our public resources unspoiled?

We’re all in this together. Let’s join hands to usher in this change.

(picture courtesy debatepolitics.com)

This post is an entry to a contest by Stayfree India: Like their Facebook page here!

  1. damn are you giving the competition a run for their money 😛
    i gotta say, this is one helluva post. i doubt people have touched upon civic sense as a topic of change. everywhere i look (even at a mirror), people’ve written about education. well, this post proves that you’re made to be a lawyer!! you’d told me once, right, you wanna change the “chalta hai” attitude of our countrymen? well, i can gladly say this is as good a start as any for your goal 🙂

    • smartie94 says:

      Thanks 😛
      Haha, I’ve written about education too. 😀
      Yes indeed, I plan to. We must start somewhere…even if it’s an insignificant blog on this huge jumble called the internet! 🙂

  2. Seema Sharma says:

    Yeah you are right…its the time to change ourselves…nice post…all the best for the contest.

  3. Ramakant says:

    Thoughtful post. If everyone does their bit, we would have a much better India. And in the everyone, I mean the young literate population, who are pretty idealistic in many ways but tend to let the small things slip past once in a while. Unless and until, we make it a way of life, it will be difficult achieving western standards in India.

  4. Abs. right.. a little civic sense will such a long long way.

  5. Very sensible and witty article! Never get tired of “Utarneka hai kya”? questions in trains or buses. The best response to it was an elderly gentleman saying “Utarvayega kya”?

    Miss mumbai like crazy 🙂

    Keep writing!

  6. perceptionsofaconfusedsoul says:

    A different post. A fresh one. Most importantly, it broached on all aspects and I LOVE IT 😀 .. This is a great post girl! And I really hope you win.. This deserves it 🙂

    The pan-wala’s bother me.. oh and the queue photo, the old man looks so tired and pale.. aches to see that :/

  7. Rupertt Wind says:

    Ah! the good old Mumbai!

  8. kofykat says:

    brilliant post…. I agree with every one of it. if we can respect other countries why can’t we respect ours. and if we can respect other people, why can’t we respect our own?

  9. Sampath Cool says:

    Nicely written
    Well done yaar..cheers for the article :).
    Also Check out mine.Give your comment on it.
    Are Hijra’s(TransGender) not a Human being.?

  10. Just the same thing as Delhi. I hate that chinki thing to the core.

    Wish you luck for the contest.

  11. KayEm says:

    The photos support what you have to say a hundred percent. The huge number of cars and no lanes, the paan, those four dishing out “justice” to each other, the sideways line – amazingly telling.

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