Spit on the Nation

May 23, 2007
Gauri Warudi

"Luv eez sweet poyzun" written in Marathi on his rear view mirror, with the words dotted with 2 little red hearts, resembling the deutsche umlaut, my rickshaw driver zipped through the busy traffic. He drove as if he had just filled in aviation fuel in his rick. And as he zipped, he literally painted the town roads red; and dropped me seemingly in a spit split second at my home almost 12 kms away from where I boarded the rick!

Such spit seconders are aplenty in our towns. What's it with these guys that they all insist on painting our towns, roads, buildings, stairways - red, brown and all hues of rust?

A small write-up in yesterday's paper brought a smile and frown simultaneously. It was about how the PMT (Pune Municipal Transport-for those of you uninitiated, unfamiliar with Pune), management had decided to place mirrors at strategic points on the stairway in their office building so that people wouldn't spit. And how did they hope to achieve that Herculean task?

An official was reported saying, "People when spitting will see their own image in the mirror and that'll prevent them from spitting!"

Christ! And then we say we're mature, thinking people and don't need policing or regulating hands to control us?

We all have seen many buildings that have various Gods and goddesses' images on tiles fitted very indulgently on the stairway walls. Make no mistake; its not 'cos they're overtly religious, its 'cos these and other places are 'perpetual targets' of the spit brigade, comprising servants, ayahs, milkmen, paperwallahs and even seemingly respectable inhabitants of apartment blocks. The spit brigade's rather shamelessly popular trend inspired even 'apun ka Munnabhai' who in his radio show advises a caller to use Gandhigiri and wash off the paan stains and forgive the perpetrator of this crime.

Not so long ago BMMC (Is that how it's known?) started a drive which had HUGE hoardings saying "Kaho chhhee!" apparently to discourage 'bio-friendly' people from irrigating any and every vacant space they could find. I had almost decided to do so when I saw one guy at the Chembur corner, but my family thought I had gone bonkers and vehemently prevented my socially aware conscience from speaking up.

That was the last I tried to be a good citizen. Does that make me as guilty as my next door neighbour, whose dog poo is found on our terrace or in the parking space? Well, maybe. So much for alert and aware citizens and so much for 'clean city, green city'.

A hoarding put up by the PMC, goading citizens "Aao Pune swachcha rakhein" (Come let us keep Pune clean) was clicked by an alert journalist, having a heap of pipes and other garbage dumped in front of it, by the PMC people themselves!

Ahhh! After that spit-second observation and ranting, my conscience sure feels cleansed!

Gauri Warudi, a freelance journalist and script writer for the past 18 years has been a film columnist and critic, mainly associated with the Marathi entertainment industry. She is also now a filmmaker, having made 4 short documentary films and a short fiction film.
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May 23, 2007
11:27 AM

Oh, this article took me back to Pune (where I long to be right now)

This "Spit-ting Theatre" is truly one of the "highlights" of Indian culture. Even putting images of gods on the corners doesn't help much, as the spitters can easily aim perfectly while missing the tiles.

And, like the image tiles, we have random stones colored and garlanded, marked as Gods, which keep people from converting random street corners and plots into garbage-dumps...

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