Rubbishing the East
Tuesday, May 24, 2005
The first plastic cup made its way to the floor by . After some cheering and clapping, two more cups bearing the logo Victoria Bitter tottered to the floor, slightly imbalanced, like those who had drained them. Diversity was soon added. Paper bags containing discarded remains of fat and slimy Potato Planks here. Some plastic ice-cream wrappers there. At the end of the first day's play at the MCG, I looked around and noted at how the concrete footsteps were padded with assorted litter.
However, when I returned the next day to see day 2 of the test match, I was surprised to see no traces whatsoever of the garbage-carnage.
The western world is often disgusted with the filth they see in the developing or under-developed world. Some are even moved to philosophise on it. Scott Seligman, an American, has this to say on the Chinese in his book Chinese Business Etiquette
Relatives, friends, neighbours, classmates, co-workers are all people to whom one bears some form of obligation. No obligation is felt to those outside of ones circle, which explains the paucity of philanthropy in
and the tendency of people to show little respect for public property or commonly held property. China
Apartment dwellers in
may live in lovely flats, but the stairwells and hallways resemble those of a China tenement dark, dirty and generally not maintained. In New York , you can tell there has been a day off by the amount of litter strewn in public parks. The near total lack of civic responsibility, to my mind is explainable by the circle theory, because appropriate civic behaviour requires a respect for others outside of the circle something that is rare indeed in Taiwan . China
If my experience at the MCG and elsewhere is any indicator, our basic nature of not caring for public property is not too different across cultures. What differentiates the West is the willingness and ability to correct the consequences of the littering not always littering in itself.
Recently, Australian visitors to Gallipoli the Turkish city where several Australians, New Zealanders and Indian soldiers lost their lives in a futile war launched by
John Howard is pragmatic. Correcting human behaviour is never easy. Managing waste collection is. Back home, the parts of Chennai covered by Onyx, a private waste collection operator, are visibly cleaner than before.
Till such time as we evolve from relying on inefficient municipalities, we'll have to endure these East vs. West theories!
Tales from a neighbour
Thursday, May 19, 2005
Ali expressed his undisguised glee at the recent success of Inzi's men in
Ali then reminisced about his 15 years in
That sentiment is not something that I always value and I was beginning to worry that Ali would decry everything Australian and eulogise everything from home, as many immigrants do here. To my relief, he showed more balance. He resented government officials who unfailingly sought pomp when they used the roads, much to the inconvenience of the masses. Ali was critical about how roads were washed thoroughly in preparation for the burial of Musharraf’s father – especially when roads are never cared for in other times.
In his last tale, he recounted that he was once sent to pick up a passenger named Howard in the suburb of Kiribilli in
Ali turned to me and asked if I could imagine this happening in
Public Transport: From Mumbai to Melbourne
Wednesday, May 18, 2005
Two commuters in
The other event made me wish that Mumbai would take a lesson from
Good morning passengers. This is the tram service to St. Kilda. Unlike other tram drivers, I am accessible to all passengers. If you are unsure about your stop, please come and see me before you make a mistake.
Passengers with delicate constitutions should be aware that this tram might swerve dangerously around curves and can reach top speeds of 20kmph. You are advised to close your eyes and pray if you have a fear of speed.
During the course of our journey it is likely that the tram may go off the rails and come to rest against the nearest available object. In such an event, there is a real possibility that our destination might be severely altered. Please wait until the tram comes to a complete rest before getting off.
I am sure Mumbai could use drivers with such a sense of humour.
On second thoughts, if train drivers were to make such an announcement in a Mumbai local, the harried passengers are likely to take the announcements seriously and rain blows on him.
Pop and Pope
Thorpe's oil slick
Tuesday, May 03, 2005
With 'Thorpedo' taking a break from competitive swimming till the Beijing Olypics, his newly styled hair made news.
Melbourne's evening tabloid Mx reports that most callers to a local radio station gave the new hairstyle a thumbs down. One caller suggested that George Bush had ordered an invasion of Thorpe's hair--to take control of the oil.