September 23rd, 2019

Talking rubbish

I know, I know, I’ve been pretty quiet of late.

Busy, busy, busy, that’s my excuse.

Plus, as I mentioned in my previous post, I am studiously avoiding anything too depressing or horrid, which (sad to say) excludes a hefty chunk of the current Indian news.

But today, I feel impelled to talk rubbish.

For those of you who don’t know, I am a runner and as such get to pound the Delhi streets at ungodly hours of the day and see the city before it wakes up. And before the municipal street cleaners have made a tiny dent in what must be one of the most litter-strewn capital cities of the world.

I say this, hoping that as from next week I will be proved wrong.

The streets of this city are strewn with garbage morning, noon and night and the half-hearted attempts of cleaners, slowly sweeping with twig brooms, makes virtually no impact.

Rubbish bins are few and far between and are usually overflowing.

And, being blunt, there is a total lack of shame at throwing your rubbish on the ground. Open that packet of chips, that sweet, that gutka packet, drop the wrapper and walk on. Sad, but that’s the stark truth, and I feel no inclination to sugarcoat it.

Our Prime Minister – currently “howdy”-ing his way across the USA – has announced that there will soon be a ban on single use plastics, and many people feel the announcement will come on October 2nd, the birth date of Mahatma Gandhi.

Yeah, that’s next week, so let’s see how that pans out.

No matter what I think of Mr. Modi and his government, I am all for a ban on plastics.

I see at first (and unpleasant hand) how filthy this city is.

I live in a so-called posh part of town and run in so-called posh areas – and yet there is garbage everywhere.

I got so sick of the rubbish in the park where I run that I started to “plog” with a young running friend of mine, Ripu Daman. We started a group called Ploggers of India, and under Ripu’s passionate and committed leadership, it has grown by leaps and bounds.

I continue to pick up trash every single day, every single run, because I simply cannot bear to see rubbish.

Why ignore it?

Pick the damned stuff up.

I run mostly in my local biodiversity park, which is (let me be clear) far and away one of the cleanest places in Delhi. And yet, every single day, I pick up trash.

This morning was just like any other morning.

I picked up a plastic bag that someone had discarded, and used it to pick up everything I ran past on the trail in this lovely little park.

As happens some mornings, a few people gave me a thumbs up as they walked past me.

One man whom I meet every morning, stopped and said “Good job.”

And, for the first time EVER, a man picked up 2 plastic bags that were lying on the ground right next to him where he was exercising, and handed them to me as I ran past.

Not a word, not a smile, just handed me the bags and got back to his stretching.

A bit odd, but better that the bags were with me than on the ground

What struck me this morning is that I see the same people day after day in the park. The same morning runners, the same evening walkers. We’re on nodding and namaste-ing terms.

And yet not one person seems bothered by the rubbish.

People walk or run past the sweet wrappers, and the chip packets, and the plastic bags and the plastic straws.

No one has ever once offered to help me – other than the bloke giving me the 2 bags this morning.

It’s almost as though it’s not their problem. Someone else must clean up the rubbish, seems to be the mindset.

Except that nobody does.

So people walk through a gorgeous park, right past the rubbish.

Since much of what I pick up every day is single-use plastic, who knows, perhaps there will soon be no need for me to plog?

Mr. Modi, I truly hope this campaign of yours against plastic pollution works.

From the bottom of my heart, I wish you well in your move to rid this country of the litter that so blights it.

I suspect it’ll be an uphill task, requiring a massive change of mindset.

But here’s hoping.

I’d love to become a redundant plogger.

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