A Crappy Affair

World toilet day
The UN has declared Nov.19th as the world Toilet day.
We have lived and grown up with toilets, of course during our younger days when we travelled we never used public toilets since we were worried about hygiene with the advent of pay toilets those are taken care off too.
The impact of open defection never really struck in, after all at school we were thought that one method of seed dispersion was undigested seeds in the faecal matter.
At the medical school the impact of water borne disease and zoonosis kind of seeped in.
Last year when I went with the Banega Swach Bharat drive of NDTV I realized the greater impact of it, there was a man who wanted toilets constructed because he wife died when she slipped as she went out the fields. Gone were the days people looked at costing, the issue that the public presented was know how, they knew they needed toilets, they wanted the toilets too, the issue was how would the sewage handle it self they did not want it let loose into the fields and rivers as it would cause contamination. The knowledge partners organized by NDTV addressed this fundamental issue.
maybe if a year back somebody told me that the international toilet day was linked with equality, dignity and gender violence and sanitation I would have rolled with laughter. But the exposure a year ago and working with the migrant workers have really opened my eyes to something larger.
I heard stories of villagers who want to send their daughters to school but the fact that there were no toilets and the trees had been cut off to widen the roads made them aware of the desperate need for toilets and trees.
On the flip side were elders who were psychologically comfortable doing their daily rituals in the open environment so they had bowel constriction when they had to use the toilets. Interestingly the resource person suggested roofless toilets and planting of trees, or keeping flower pots.
When we are dealing with the migrant labour and informal work force things take a different turn. In a supermarket or a mall there are staff toilets and toilets for the public, but in a village market, or construction site we have neither.
Some village markets have now come up with pay toilets but construction sites are still open. The workers have nowhere to ease themselves through their 10hrs of working. Neither do they have access to potable water unless they are carrying it.
It is easy to say that India as a nation has no sense of hygiene/dignity/whatever, to a certain extent yes, but if we do not provide the toilets where on earth are the people to go, they have to ease themselves so they will go into the shrubs if they are available or go in the open.
An year back I met a company that dealt with portable toilets, when we asked them why were these not used in places where temporary toilets were required, we were told
• Their initial costing is high
• They were western toilets and Indians were not comfortable using it.
By the way the company has come up with an Indian model this year. The waste was dealt with chemically so there was no odour emitted.
The sanitation maintenance people on the Indian railway have another thing to say. Yes, the train toilets are public places. The Indian railway has recently shifted to bio-cleansing toilet units, they put up signage’s to tell people not to throw their diapers, the sanitary towels and tissues down the toilet , yet people do so, particularly in the first class section which is supposed to occupied by the more educated aware citizens as opposed to the plebiscites of the sleeper class.
The international toilet day would be a great point to start an awareness drive, and toilet training—yes I use it deliberately because we need to learn how to use a public toilet, keep it clean and conserve resources.

Etiquette in Public transport

A man sitting on a seat designated for women
A man sitting on a seat designated for women

Candles are being light this evening in memory ofpeople who died in road accidents, maybe we should look at making our roads, and public transport safter?

My scooter has conked off, and I am taking the public transport from the university to Kala Academy and back.

It is quite interesting to watch people.

I have this happening in the Vasco locals too.

There are seat designated for women, where men sit quite comfortable and women are standing, neither does the conductor ask the men to stand up, nor do the women exert their rights. One time when I told a woman it is a women’s seat sit down, she told me how can I? My husband is standing. I could ignore that as her call.

Then we have teenage boys who don’t give up the seat, they avoid making eye contact so that the women won’t draw their attention or point blank ask them to get up.

Oh! Yes there are mothers of teenage boys who plonk and get their sons to sit next to them they don’t let the boys get up when another woman comes by. If the boy is asked to get up then they create a ruckus.

The other day, there was a senior citizen who was standing. In the seat designated for senior citizen was a  staff from the Manipal Hospital. I got up and gave my seat to the elderly gentleman, at the university stop another elderly woman got in, when we told this staff of Manipal Hospital to get up, she says what’s wrong if I sit I am getting off at Manipal hospital.  I knew the staff of Manipal Hospital Goa is rather rude but this kind of takes the cake.

What is this entire thing of education, and making the public transport women and senior citizen friendly?

What does the conductor do if he cannot ensure things are functioning the way it is meant to?

image courtsey internet
image courtsey internet

It is bad enough that in bus that allows 11 standing passengers the  number of standing passengers are 22, one time the conductor insisted that I stand of the steps, when the bus stopped I feel off.

With these blatant flaunting of safety regulations does it really make sense to have this light a candle to remember people who died in an road accident?

Travel Etiquette,

xammi-goa expressThe Goa express is late as usual.

The schedule arrival time being 4.20pm flashes on the Pune Junction display board, its 4.20 the platform is not yet announced. Neither has the Indian railways been kind enough to tell us that the train is delayed.

Anyway at 5.20 the train chugs in, and we get in. in all my years of travel here was a group that I really found interesting. That’s another blog anyway.

There were a senior couple in their late 70’s another senior citizen in of the same age the rest of us in our mid or late forties. As we enter the carriage we find a steel trunk that is just along as the berth blocking the pathway.

We did try to enquire who it belonged to. No passenger seem to own this baggage. The staff of the railways were extremely rude, when we asked their help to move, the box was too cumbersome for us manipulate it. eventually out sheer disgust we pulled right to the pathway so that it obstructed the path of people who wanted to move about. This particularly effected the railway vendors.

the box was now moved, when a youngish man came charging at us, shouting abusively because the trunk belonged to him!! Anyway having moved the box we saw volumes of garbage underneath the berth where the baggage was to go, so much for “swatcha bharat abhiyan.”

Probably some things we could follow to make everyone’s journey a little more comfortable.

  1. Do not hog the berth space.
  2. Do not hog the luggage space.
  3. Do not smoke in the public space.
  4. Do not carrying smelly food.
  5. Do have loud conversations have music blaring.
  6. Do not intrude on the other passenger’s space with inquisitive questions.
  7. Do not litter the carriage. If the dustbin is full collect the garbage in a carrier that can be disposed into the garbage bins at various stations.
  8. Do not use the toilet when the train is stationary.

At the Museum.

DSC_0062Somewhere the definition  of public spaces and private seems does not seem exist in our culture.

I am not talking about the shomeall social network nurtured culture. I am talking of people who in their 50’s too.

Just look at our temples, we are so noisy so crude and me first. we don’t even attempt at being civil.

A month ago my husband I were at the Salar Jung Museum at Hyderabad. The peaceful ambience suddenly disturbed by a bunch of teenagers, absolutely loud, foul mouthed, jumping the  separators to click photographs. They definitely have not been taught how to behave in these spaces.

The poor caretaker went berserk at the Kittur museum stopping people from clicking pictures, he kept telling them that the flashes damaged the exhibits, the visitors either ignored him, or bullied him or blatantly laughed at him for they thought they were cats whiskers by breaking rules.

Loud rowdy behaviour comes when the viewer is bored. So if  you don’t like a museum or an exhibition do not go there. sit out at the cafeteria and flirt with guard, but don’t be a nuisance to people who enjoying themselves.

is it so difficult to maintain decorum? Lets us what is do able—

  • Do not touch the exhibits.
  • Keep your voice down.
  • Do not photograph, if you have to do not use a flash. These exhibits are ancient and light sensitive.
  • One major nuisance are the people who pose in front of the exhibits blocking the view of other viewers.
  • The velvet ropes are to keep us back, lets not jump it.
  • While reading the Plaques, reading it softly without blocking others view.
  • Not snacking or smoking within the museum premises.

Museums in uncle Sam’s land apparently have started handing out museum decorum handouts before people enter the museum. Maybe we should do the same.