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Turning our back to Urban Sanitation
"In cities men can be found answering the nature's call anywhere. Men out there with their backs towards public, doing the unmentionable things. Roadsides, walls, bus stops, busy intersections-anything goes."
Babuna Biswal: December 1, 2008
The other day I was waiting for the bus in Hyderabad, to see my boss off in the office bus. Four teenagers in their fifteens passed by hand in hand.
There was nothing unusual about it to distract us from a serious political topic which we were engrossed in. But suddenly, the persuasive arguments of my senile journalist boss could not hold my attention. I was found wavering to a sight leaving my boss clueless with my sudden distraction in the middle of the conversation. But soon after, he too also left agape with the sight.
The four boys who passed in front of us had suddenly stopped few meters away. Two of them stood facing towards the busy road and the other two facing squarely opposite locking the buttocks. And two of them who were facing opposite the busy road started peeing. And the game changed and the other two who were providing cover too did urinate.
I was just too amazed to say anything seeing the innovative dirty act, as my boss. We were just dumb struck at the sight. Soon after the job is over, the four boys started walking hand in hand as they were before our conversation. My curiosity just dragged me to catch hold of those smart guys.
I followed them a bit and tried to be friendly by asking their name in their language to kick up a conversation. Though I knew very little of their language (Telugu), much to my comfort, they were comfortable in Hindi even though of Hyderabadi variety. Since my intention was to inquire about the smart act, I posed the question straight--whether it was a gully game or something else.
At first the teenagers blushed. But, the smartest of the group told me that it is a trick to piss in a busy city like Hyderabad without searching for a urinal when there is an urgent nature's call. And I got back to my boss laughing, pondering-what an idea sir ji.
...But the incident got me thinking. Certainly these boys have found out a smart way to pee in public. And in absence of public urinals, we Indians pee every where. And, in cities men can be found answering the nature's call anywhere. Men out there with their backs towards public, doing the unmentionable things. Roadsides, walls, bus stops, busy intersections-anything goes. And the putrid smell of urine at every busy road tells it all. And even the slender electric polls offer enough space to relieve themselves in a busy side walks for the pedestrians.
And ask any one of them, many of them will either balk at you or give the fitting excuse of RED FM advertisement. “Roadside MeinSuSuKarneWalonko line peleneka, AjKal Logon Ke Uppar Tarha Tarha ki pressure hotahai, Apke upar pressure ayega to Aap kya karoge”. The advertisement may seem funny but, it is really pressing issue literally.
Though it is quite a norm over the country to relieve oneself out in open. And in the country side, it will not even raise a slightest heckle or a single eyebrow if one relieves oneself behind a cover whether it is the bush or a tree, which most of them often do.
But the people in a busy city always feel the heat, quite literally. In a crowded city, if one looks for a loo, most often you may not get one even after moving about a kilometer. Even if you find one, it needs guts to enter into it, thanks to the stink, shoddy maintenance. And if there is an emergency, one ends up sniffing those urine marked places to relieve one self.
We city dwellers thank ourselves for having an uncanny ability to locate those places in absence of adequate urinals. And strange enough, finding those places is quite easier than finding an urinal.. Sometimes, Malls and showrooms offer you good quality of urinals to their customers.
Those who are smart enough can avail the facilities, even if you have little thing to buy from the place. Point to ponder is that it is easy to locate a Mall instead of locating a urinal. And if you happen to be a woman, you have little chance of relieving yourself unless until you reach your destination. Thankfully, God has given women them a larger bladder to hold urine for a longer time than the men.
Government has identified 100 percent sanitation goal during 11thFive Year Plan. The goal mainly aims at providing sanitation to all urban dwellers. Since about 36% of urban dwellers don't have access to safe sanitation facilities so far will be the prime target of this mission. Hope while formulating schemes the lawmakers don't turn their back on these pressing issues in an International Year of Sanitation.