Took a rickshaw from Kamla Nagar to Mukherjee Nagar at Rs 50. On the way, I saw a well-dressed gentleman near Daulat Ram College holding a paper cup and throwing it on the road itself and entered into a car. On seeing his action, I asked the rickshaw driver uncle if he ever heard Swachh Bharat Abhiyan campaign by none other than the Prime Minister of India. He enthusiastically said he has heard about it a lot. I felt good.
We proceeded our conversation about cleanliness, how people just throw bottles and other things, and how they spit etc. on the road without caring for cleanliness and others.
Then suddenly he stopped on the roadside in between Miranda House college gate and SGTB Khalsa College and told me that he needed to urinate. I looked around and did not see any toilet or any of that sort there. I politely told him to ride upto GTB Nagar Metro station which is very near and unburden himself there. There is one toilet there. He did not care what I told and urinated on the wall in front of many college going students- many of them were girls. The girls looked away and I felt embarrassed also. The wall was very near to the road and you know how some men here urinate- they never respect themselves and others, no concern and no dignity.
I suddenly felt how effective the Prime Minister’s campaign is! Oh Ghost!
When he came back I told him that the girls were like his own daughter and he should not have urinated on the wall in front of them. ‘Woh meri beti keise hoga? Wohto dusre ka hein’ (How can they be my daughters? They are others’). That was his reply.
Well, sometimes I am very short-tempered but somehow I controlled myself. I must know where in India I am. But I wanted to express my displeasure with his ugly act.
I gave him 30 Rs and got down from the rickshaw. I told him that I cannot sit on a rickshaw rode by a person who cannot respect others. He said whether I could provide ‘suraksha’ (security) to all girls. I said ‘no’ but it was my responsibility to act at the level I can. “Aap bhi kuchto karo. Aapki beti or patni kisi aadmi ko eisa dekhegato woh accha lagega kya?”
With that broken Hindi I left him there. I took an auto from there till Mukherjee Nagar by paying 40 Rs. The auto driver appeared to be a really nice guy. The way he was maintaining the auto was impressive and we talked about it.
I think that the rickshaw driver may not change. But as a human being, he must have felt bad about his action after what I have told him. My action might have embarrassed him (I am not sure) but I wanted him to know that his action was not socially acceptable. Among his friends or people, that may be the norm, but is that norm acceptable in the larger society?
I might be in haste in my taking decision to get down and take an auto leaving him there despite the fact that I paid him for the distance covered. I had to spend extra money for that and I could not tolerate his embarrassing act.
What is acceptable, what is good, which norm should be accepted are moral issues we continue to debate. What I do believe is that we should have a norm which is to respect one another in the society. When people break that, that really hurts me.
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