Case 1.The other day stopped at a red light, a few seconds
later an Audi A6 pulls up along side, the man at the wheel, well heeled with a Hublot
on his wrist, lowers the window and casually drops a disposable plastic glass
out the window.
Case 2.On Sunday last, I went to the Darya Ganj book market,
and I got there before time, the sweepers where still cleaning up, you could
see small piles gathered at regular intervals. Piles of dust and dirt,
wrappers, used condoms, syringes, stubbs, bandages, and unrecognizable things,
all being collected and then disposed of into a hand pushed cart – by hand.
Case 3.At the Mehrauli bus terminal, there are toilets, that
are not used, but a wall is – the toilets are kept locked. I wonder if they did
put up toilets would people use them?
A. If we throw garbage outside our gates on the street
side, or just some where when people are
not looking. And if we have no qualms about dropping the empty chips bag down
the side of the auto. Or out the window in the middle of wilderness on a train?
Would you piss in a toilet if there was one?
B. Is cleaning up some one else’s job- the governements? The
oppositions? The sweeper you so generously pay 50 rupees a month to carry your
You can cry hoarse about how bad/unsafe/unlivable/uncivic and third
world the city is and so why you like London or Paris or whatever white skinned
city is vogue this season.
You can vote all you like for progress and development and
safety and whatever other Sh%# you would want - till the day you don’t drop the
disposable glass, or flick the wrapper or spit on the curb or stop right across
the zebra lines - the city will smell just as it does to me right now –
PLACE YOU PISSED IN!
The pattern of growth, urban development and progress of the
city doesn’t give you much choice in the matter. Needless to mention is the
abysmal lack of civic facilities or the upkeep of the miniscule number of those
provided, that is only the tip of the iceberg sized issue.
Systematic privatization and /or restricted access to the
city’s so called public spaces has reduced the actual truly democratic spaces
of the city into spaces that are often not accessed by and thus uncared for by
the citizens who most wield the power to have this spaces well kept.
(We do not want to be in our city any more. We don’t walk
its streets, we don’t play in its parks or stroll its boulevards. Our desire
for the more progressive energy burning and upmarket and marketable lifestyle
has removed us from the city into pockets of isolated synthetic environments
which we shudder to move out of. And as consequence the city becomes a monster,
not because it is but it is a sort of chicken and egg situation that once set
in motion the city presumably remains unsafe because those who want to/can make it safe are no longer willing to
be present in it.)
The only truly democratic space in the city is the street,
that the middle class and upwardly mobile would be loath to set foot on. They
are only fit to drive thru and to make condescending glances at the less
fortunate who have yet not risen to the point being able to drive through them.
Or the truly economically destitute – the homeless and the nomadic sellers at
street light and beggars.
Most public space in the city bears a stance of “Do Not
Enter” either in terms of access or
control or by a necessarily requiring financial transaction that in
self-reflexive manner polices and thus keeping large parts of population out.
So what is left of the city - that you, me, the guy in the
fancy imported car and the Metro, the homeless under the may flyovers and the
vegetable vendor is that common denominator that you cannot avoid but would
never want to possess – It would just be a place you would take a leak in if
you if you had to.
Of course another thing is that no one actually belongs to
Delhi – no one is a Delhi-ite if that is a tern you can use. You are either
Punjabi, or from UP or from Bihar or Bengal or Gujju, or from Kerala or from
Bangalore or Lucknow or some other place. Delhi Belongs to no one except the
Jatt boys riding about on 350 cc bullets without helmets! And even they are
dying to get out!
In some way its like a thru’ station – everyone is passing
through – here while it lasts , taking what they can while they can take it and
then heading out to some other place. Much like something/someone used.And that
It’s all cyclical – it’s a city you piss in, because it is a
city you piss in!
Labels: architecture, Delhi, Democratic Space, Future City, new delhi, Piss, Pissed, progress, Toilets in the City, urban development, Urban Planning