Wednesday, October 08, 2008

The broken people

Last year, I thought it was time for Dhanno to begin cleaning her own bathroom and toilet. When I proposed it to her, she was shocked. Until then, usually I and sometimes Tai had cleaned it for her.

Perhaps she had never realized that someone did the job for her. Luckily, she was reading bits of Mahatma Gandhi's 'My Experiments with Truth' then, and we crossed over several issues with the thought that Gandhiji cleaned his own toilet.

It's the same with our public spaces. Most of us assume there is someone to clean up. So, it's chuck, spit, pee, shit.

Read my review of 'Untouchable' by Mulk Raj Anand, here.

10 comments:

grasshopper said...

Yes, this is one job I am still not resolved about.I hate asking the maid to do it. And when I do it, I crib and demand help.

I wonder why hubby never ever thinks of doing it himself.Is it that men don't have noses?

anja said...

Good thing your daughter is reading a book about principles/values at this age..Living in India today which is still so feudal, its so important to talk about inequality with children. I wish I could see Lilkee somehow..I am coming to India in November, I would love to buy a copy.

I just read your piece at upperstall and I was very moved and saddened. Also checked out the video on Shivam's blog. That made me really upset. I can't believe this is present day India. I mean I can believe it, I'm not surprised by it because I grew up surrounded by the inequality and became immune too..But when I saw the video all those feelings of injustice, wrongness and pure inhumanity rose up. Especially to see that d#$k talking about how he used to rape women. And that poor man very resignedly saying he can't drink tea from the cup because then no one else can, 'becharo'. Or the bastard who laughs so cruelly when he serves the man tea on the floor.

I will visit www.idsn.org and www.dalits.org

Thank you for your strong piece

memsaab said...

Thanks for the links, Banno. Very informative and well-written and the video very moving. Puts global market woes into perspective, for sure!!!

It's parents like you and kids like Dhanno (don't tell her I called her a kid b/c I don't really believe she is one) who make that change, it just takes too long for too many...

Shweta Mehrotra Gahlawat said...

Brilliant writing Banno, as always. I am also glad Dhanno is reading "Experiments w/ Truth"- not many ppl seem to nowadays.

Banno said...

Grasshopper, men and their dirty habits require another website entirely.

Anja, Yes, that video really shakes you up. As for 'Lilkee', if you mail me your address in India, I'll send you a copy there. You don't need to buy it. I'd be happy to give it to you. If you look at my last post on my Lilkee blog, you'll know why.

Memsaab, thanks. Yes, the change is so slow. 73 years after Anand's novel is written, it still seems as if he is talking of today, bar a few improvements.

Shweta, thanks. Dhanno is reading bits of it. It's tough for her to do it in one go, as she's not a big reader.

aniket said...

Hi Batul,

Thanks for giving my immature story (Karant wale Balaji ka Mandir) a chance. Glad that you liked it.

It's really appalling that a country housing one sixth of humanity has still not risen above the basic human problems of harmonious living, whether it's between people of different communities, or different castes. I live in Hyderabad, and thankfully our city doesn't have that much poison it its air as some of the cities in the north.

I liked both the form and content of your blog. You have a new reader now :)

Sakshi said...

I was worse. Never lifted a glass to place in the kitchen sink until I moved to Sydney for higher studies. Forget washing just own toilet, I did wiped out public loos as well once I started working at Burger King.

Since then no job seems impossible. :)

Shefaly said...

People learn in their own sweet time. I am sure Dhanno would have done too.

When I lived in Uni hostels, it was shared bathrooms so they were cleaned by our Sheela-ji. When I started working, I lived alone and the best way to get murdered etc in Delhi was for a single woman, living alone to employ a servant. Cue cleaning of toilets, doing jhadoo-pocha before going to work every day, washing towels and bedsheets every weekend, and cooking every evening. Moving to Europe was then a doddle. I have kept a housekeeper for the last 5 years or so, but I clean the bathroom even now a couple times a week. Old habits. What to do?

Banno said...

Aniket, Your story is not immature. Now you are fishing, I guess. But thanks for your comments.

Sakshi, you are certainly trained now for any situation in life. Wow.

Shefaly, Yes, Dhanno would have learnt. The sad part is that most people in India just take the sweepers and cleaners completely for granted. Those working in private homes are better off, but those working in public spaces work under the most horrific, unhygienic and dangerous conditions.

bollywoodfoodclub said...

Fitting to read this since I just cleaned 2 toilets today! Wonderful post here and review on Upperstall of of 'Untouchable' by Mulk Raj Anand. I will have to read that. The video "I'm Dalit. How Are You?" was also excellent. Like anja said, the guy who laughed about raping women was indeed a real bastard. I enjoyed Sakshi's comments too from going from not lifting a glass to having to clean the toilets at BK. :D As an American, I've often wondered about the extreme shock someone from India (or any other country for that matter) accustomed to having help in the home, and then suddenly having to do all the basic chores themselves in their new setting, be it the US, Canada, Australia, where ever. "So what time does the doud walla come by?" Sorry bhai, you gotta go get that yourself :) You also have to clean up after yourself, yes, even the toilet.

All the best!
Sita-ji