The Guilty Banana

In the chaotic routine called my life, between the journeys and the stops, the check ins and check outs, the craziness and seriousness of being a communicator, the boldness or self-consciousness I get from the experiences, the loves and the hates of people around- be it colleagues or visitors, the complaints from friends and family, I rarely get the time to reminisce the peace and satisfaction I wanted out of my life and especially from this job. But sometimes when there is a moderate flow of visitors in the train, I like to just be in the background and see what people interpret out of the panels and really experience the diverse ‘thought processes’ of people of India, which was supposed to be a side benefit of our job (I’m not that introspective kind of a girl, you know, but I try!).

So on a fine (and sluggish) day when I was stationed in coach 7 (the negotiation one), I was quietly observing a father and a son interacting with each other regarding the “Kaun karega safaai?” panel (Every other parent do this with their kid (poor babies!) and gives them a lecture on cleanliness being godliness. As if! ) and was about to interrupt it with my own spiel about the principles those panels actually explained when my attention was brought towards a lady who was also observing them. She was a woman of a fair complexion, as healthy as Indian housewives can be, around fortyish. She asked me if there were any dustbins around. I replied in a negative while informing her about the location of dustbin on the platform. She smiled and told me that this is where the basic problem of uncleanliness in India lies. She explained, “Most of the garbage problems are faced in public transports as we always take something with us to eat but don’t know where to put the waste generated thereafter as most of the stations do not have ample waste disposal facilities. That’s the main reason for large garbage pits around these places. The most  we do is to put the packets inside our bags after eating the stuff and throw it only in a ‘proper’ dustbin. However despite being the intellectual citizens of India, we throw away the fruit remains especially the banana peels out of the window as we don’t want our bags to stink. Are we right to do so?” After listening to her side and acknowledging almost everything from my own past experiences in public transports I told her that I find it quite reasonable because fruit remains are biodegradable and are disposed naturally. “But that is not keeping our surroundings clean, is it?” She said and went away with a bemused smile.

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Admittedly being the ‘OCD person’ my friends describe me as, I am always fretting about the cleanliness around me and am always sighted cleaning, mending or adjusting something or the other. But after that lady went away I could think about the matter in a new light. I pondered over the topic the whole day and got nowhere. As the exhibition ended for the day, I met Ritu at TOP for our regular meetings where I told her about this incident and how I’ve been feeling. Her reaction was a simple, saintly smile. After some prodding she revealed, “Pooja, she passed her ‘banana guilt’ to you and you really fell for it as you usually do.”

Now that I think of the lady and of those banana peels we talked about, I still feel that guilt as I travel with SECAS and on my way maybe I’m not keeping the places as clean as I preach. I can only promise to try and do my best.

– Pooja Dukhi, as thoughtfully shared with the SECAS Blog Team: Nitin, Yashashree and Ritu!

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