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Sometimes seeing the way Delhi is getting better, although not uniformly everywhere,  I wonder have we, the citizens of Delhi learnt to live with this change?  when I see the advancement made in public transport system, shopping malls and entertainment etc and then I see the still missing civic sense in the people around me, I wonder, do we even deserve this modern infrastructure?

Again, no generalization, but yes on a whole, I feel pathetic when the educated class also behaves like some runaways from prisons, like some unruly school kids, like the people who are still living under some other power’s rule.  Somewhere the sense of responsibility is absolutely missing.

(Dear reader, I make it a point that I intend not to point a finger towards others, so I don’t say ‘they’ do it, it’s ‘we’ who do it. (Remember the old saying, when you point one finger towards others, four fingers point towards you).  It is a collective consciousness or the lack of it that I am talking about.  So, please do not mind, if you fall in any of the categories of people mentioned below.  Apart from old Delhi residents, nobody really belongs to Delhi, everybody migrated for some reason or the other, and I am no exception. So I hope you will understand the context in which I am writing this.)

We clean our houses and throw the garbage nicely stuffed in a polythene bag in the back lane or on the side road.  We travel in cars and don’t mind throwing empty wrappers of food outside the car.  Whose road is that? Whose city is that? We think, it is the job of the Government, and we begin to crib on why the Municipal Corporation of Delhi does not function properly and why the sweepers don’t clean the road……… but we never understand that it is our city, and we too have some responsibility towards it..

During Common Wealth games when I visited Jawahar Lal Nehru stadium, while entering the premise, there were elaborate security check (glad for that!).  While I was standing in the queue with my family, two young boys very smartly came and stood ahead of me.  Due to their red T-shirt they looked similar to the  volunteer’s uniform.  I checked up with them and found they were not volunteers.  Softly, I told them to go back to the end of the queue and that it was not expected from youngsters to behave like that.  Instead of being embarrassed, they smiled and in the haste to get inside the stadium gave me a brilliant piece of advise “please ajjust”!!

What I am to adjust with? People breaking queues, that too youngsters who will be the fathers one day and will teach the same to their children? How do I adjust to this?

Secondly, Inside the stadium, there were food stalls serving fast food. (Since, I had gone there with my kids straight from office, so was hungry and decided to have a bite.) It was pathetic to see that the huge dustbins properly lined were lying empty and the leftovers of burgers, wrappers, juice tins, tetra packs, loads of used tissue paper were strewn carelessly on the floor all over.  I was feeling nausiated to see the scene.

It was just so simple to dump the things in the proper place, but why should we even take that trouble? That is not our house! This is some public place and we public are supposed to be like that, isn’t it?  So, all in all the interior part of the sparkling new building of the stadium was tarnished by tomato ketchup, slices of cucumber and onion,  spilled coffee and  cold drink. (Did we Delhites deserve this place?  I was thinking)

A similar thing happened during a social gathering where food was served through a buffet arrangement. Everybody – senior citizens, enthusiastic young men in their suits, women balancing their plates with clutch in hands, unruly kids – just everybody was trying to break the queue, get inside it as quickly and as smartly they could and pile up their plates with whatever is available.  (and the competition near the stall serving desserts – kulfi, jalebi, ice cream or rasmalai – oh too much!).  And you think I keep quiet there?! Nah, I never let a single guy go ahead of me, same for women, some soft corner for kids though, but not without giving a lesson in good manners!! And if someone persists the bad behaviour, a dirty look is enough then!!

Are we some hunger struck nation? I am talking about the educated urban people, where food is no issue, where at places, it is the problem of plenty.  Why can’t we stop behaving like we have never seen good food? Why are we so worried about filling our plates and don’t give a damn what is left for the next guy?

Come to see our parking sense.  Delhi is overcrowded with cars now, just a few years back it was not so.  Now instead of showing some responsibility, we park our cars like a king (Sab chalta hai attitude).

Recently, in my office parking space, I saw a senior guy parking his car just the wrong way, right in between two boxes meant for two cars.  I happened to park my car just at that time, and very politely brought this to his notice and told him that this will create a tough situation for other car owners, so a slight adjustment would help everyone. How he wished that he was deaf…. at least that is how he looked at that time… but … no… he turned back… looked around and  pat came the reply from him…. the  gyan…. the jugaad that we are good at – “aapki car to aaram se lag gayi na?” (Meaning, Hope u have sufficient space for your car).  I clenched my teeth and muttered to myself in disgust “we are like that only, han?” (no, he didn’t hear it of course! But then, while leaving the place I informed about this to the parking in charge there. Did he take any action?  I doubt)
Why are we like this ??

Till  when will be like this? Till when will go on using these words to justify our carelessness and lack of responsibility?  These words like – ” I don’t give a damn”, “it’s not my job”, ” I don’t know”, “why should only I care?”,

Does somewhere our past is looming in our minds? Our forefathers were the people who migrated to Delhi for work or for other reasons, the people who left their worlds behind when they came to India after partition.  Some are well settled now, some are still struggling, but mostly living a  comfortable life now, after 2-3 generations having faced tough times.  Sorry to say that, but that mentality to collect whatever we could for our families still exists in us, when we want to collect more food in our plates, when want to encroach that every inch of road space to include it in our verandah, when we want to fool, cheat anyone to get the electricity meter budged, when we clean our house and don’t give a damn to how badly we have littered the road, it shows and now it hurts.  Howsoever well-off or influential you become, you need to tune your sensibilities with time.

Let’s try not to pass these on to our next generation, let our children have a better place to live and feel proud about.

Let’s get our act right, before our children ask us – “Are we like that only?”

(PS: I have grown up disagreeing with this hindi phrase – “akela chana bhaad nahin phod sakta”  (meaning – a single person cannot make a difference). Of course, we can make a difference, one person can make a difference.)