Whether it was Mumbai or Lahore, an incident of this magnitude cannot happen but for the small contributions from each one of us. Yes, indeed, each one of us is a culprit, just a shade lesser than Kasab and Osama.
How, you may say? Do we really behave the way a responsible citizen need to? Do we really care for another fellow being or the environment? I am not excluding myself from this introspective journey, and for that matter not any ‘educated’ person –
- How many of us drive in lanes? Usually, if there are three lanes on a road, we will see at least five vehicles squeezing shoulder to shoulder, giving warmth to each other. In a while ‘real heat’ emanates. I can never make out which lane is which.
- Crisscrossing the lanes with utter disregard to basic traffic rules is our basic etiquette. Honking is my birth right. Don’t look at my face, I am very angry and am about to scowl at the other, as he is not giving me my way. If I am on a two wheeler, then I have every license to find the smallest of the holes to manouvre through. With an engaging cell-phone in hand, it gives me a great thrill to do all these.
- The slowest moving vehicle will be in the fastest lane, will not budge, and will make sure that faster moving one overtakes from wrong side. The heavy vehicle cannot fathom that a puny vehicle comparatively, can overtake him, so he would always occupy the faster lane to satisfy his ego.
- Waiting at the traffic signal or giving way to a pedestrian is ‘shaan ke khilaf’
- At every round about, I will try to squeeze into, oblivious of the traffic already in the circle, adding to their immobility. I will enter a thorough fare from a by-lane, without bothering to look at the moving traffic, forget about stopping for a moment. Right of way, I am not aware of.
- Park, we would, at all places that are not meant for parking. Thanks to our innovative ways of parking, a three lane road most times ends up being a single lane, rendering the already chaotic traffic to move at snail’s pace.
- Often, I discover that the whole traffic is moving slow, only because there are two motorists fighting in the middle of the road after their motor-vehicles have made love to each other. The fight is about which kissed the other first and who is responsible for it! Maintaining a responsible distance from the vehicle in front of me is degrading to me. I am not aware that I should have at least 20 meters of clearing if I am at a speed of 60km/hr.
- Even more surprising will be, a huge vehicle plonked with a flat tyre or a broken axle, in the middle of the road on a blind curve of an express way that has traffic moving at 100Km/hour!
- I will open a biscuit packet or a ‘paan ka beeda’ while driving on the road, and in a jiffy the wrapper will be flying out of my window, while I munch the biscuit or paan. I cannot carry a small disposal in my vehicle.
- I have tea at a dhaba or a kiosk, at the roadside, bus stop or railway platform, but I will definitely throw the PLASTIC cup into the Nala (culvert) or on the railway track. I do not notice the waste bin.
- While on the sports field, a zoo or a park, I care no hoot to the surroundings, I will drop my emptied plastic water bottle or the plastic glass to see it floating into the arenas! I do not care to look for the ‘monkey bins’ around!
- I will demand the hawker or the stores to give my purchase in a plastic bag as I never carry a cloth bag from home. I keep doing this every time, despite noticing thousands of these soiled plastic carry bags littered around open spaces, by the side of the roads, railway tracks, clogging water bodies.
- I will keep the tap flowing while brushing, shaving, bathing, washing etc, not realizing that the overflowing water is a result of vast amount of money that is spent on bringing it into my home. I do hear that future wars will be for water!!
- I do not even think for a moment about switching off the illuminating bulb in the empty room, as I have never experienced what it is to live in an un-electrified village.
- I did fell a couple of trees while constructing, but I hardly realize that they were protecting the soil and mother earth for over a hundred years!!
Queues and Security –
- Standing in a queue is beyond our dignity. We shall find every way to beat the system. Pushing and shoving to get in is my first priority (into the bus, into a train, into a film theatre, into the traffic..)
- Getting frisked by a security guy is even more demeaning to me. “Mujhe nahin jaante..” (You do not know who I am..).
- If I am caught violating any rule, at the traffic signal, or with an overweight luggage, or even taking an over-aged child in a train, I will try my level best to ‘payoff.’
- If I were the security guy at the gate in a railway station or a bus stand, I am least bothered about whether the screening gate is functional, I continue yapping with my fellow colleague. I am not concerned about who has sneaked in, a taxi guy soliciting passengers, a smart kingpin forcing a few kids to beg or even a ‘liberator’ with an AK in his knapsack to carry out the orders of the ‘almighty’
At home –
- I do not have time to sit and facilitate the child. Neither I have time to read a book to, play a game with, nor take a child to a museum, an art gallery or a performance.
- The annual visit to zoo for me is a promise that I have to fulfill. It is just a ritual.
- If some one calls for me, I would ask my child to say “papa ghar par nahin hai, baad mein phone kijiye.”
- Most of the time, as a father I may even fumble when some one asks which class my child is in.
I continue to turn a blind eye to many ills happening around me, instead of responding, as ‘chalta hai, hame kya karna’, is the usual refrain!! I can go on and on and on. But I shall stop here.
Most of the above mentioned ‘innocuous’ acts are experienced by silent yet sharp co-travellers, our children. I fail to imagine the gravity of influence these will have on my children’s thought process and behaviour.
If I am conscientious about my own existence, that of my fellow beings and environment, if I execute my responsibilities in the society – if I play by the rules, facilitate my driver to abide by them, my maid to be more conscious, if I bring up my child with all honesty and involvement – the world certainly would be a better place to be. I am also relatively sure that many of these ‘man-mad-and-made’ disasters can be averted to a great extent. So, till then, I am no less culprit than a Osama or a Kasab.
Looking forward to your feedback here or on my mail id – firstname.lastname@example.org