At Our Disposal

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Disposing of two things are not easy where I live. It is painful to see these two lying about on the streets, in the park and in other public places.  While one is considered holy the other is a taboo.  The very fact that I am bringing these two things under one umbrella could be considered sacrilegious by many.

So these two things are: used/broken idols (holy) and used sanitary towels (unholy). The former is purposely kept, under a holy tree while the latter I happened to see when I saw two stray dogs dig them out from the public bin in search of food, and many times even after that.

So what are the holy idols, that once adorned the little temples in the houses of many, lying in dust under the trees in the public?  I fail to understand the way many people dispose of the idols when they are done with them or when they are broken. Idols which are mostly made of stones are breakable and they do break. It is considered wrong to keep a broken idol at home (and why would you keep something broken anyway?), hence one has to dispose it off. But where? You certainly can’t even think of throwing them in the bin. That is an absolute profanity. Some people, including my mother, take it to a local temple and keep it under the tree there. What the local priest does with it is something I don’t know. Some people go miles to a water body and submerge it.  Immersion of any thing in River Yamuna has, as I noticed a month ago, become a concern for the local government as there is a warning board prohibiting one from throwing anything in it. So where do you then dispose the broken/used idols ? As I have been noticing for many years, the best spot is under a holy tree – a peepal tree usually, never mind where the tree is- it could be on the corner of the road, in a public park, outside a temple or just anywhere.  So a nice, eclectic collection of idols had been lying under the peepal tree inside my local park where I jog every morning. Nobody had touched them, mostly out of superstition or fear of being reproached by someone, for a long time till one fine morning recently, the park gardener, who must be an octogenarian and looks as if he can’t be bothered by the worldly issues and havoc one little thing/action can create, transferred the idols from the ground to the bench which is just outside the park. The bench still is under the same peepal tree as the tree happens to be just at the entrance of the park.  I continue to see the idols every morning seated on the bench. The same idols to which we all genuflected to when they were respectfully placed in our houses. Now we just walk past them. (See picture above).

Moving onto the sanitary towels now. For many years I have faced this trouble on a monthly basis on how to dispose of the used towels. It was easy in the girls’ hostel where I spent 5 tormenting years as a teenager. The administration took care of the disposal. All we had to do was dispose it of in the bins. It was only after I had left the hostel and started to live with my parents that I realised it was a big problem. No wonder you have big notes in the ladies’ toilets in public places warning you to not to flush the pad in the bin as it would only block it. So I never tried flushing it. It was an embarrassing subject to be even discussed with my mum. I remember taking the used towels wrapped in the newspaper and throwing them sometimes over the wall (ours was a corner house then) or even in the public bins when I made sure that no one was looking around. But this was more than a decade ago. As a middle-aged woman I have become smarter now, at least that’s what I think thought I still have to dispose them of using some discretion.

Only recently I realised that this continues to be a social problem even now and in many other houses too including in my area – a somewhat plush locality. Many stray dogs, birds, monkeys and even peacocks look inside the lid-less public bins for food regularly. A particular green bin in the corner of our next lane is quite a mess. So the other morning while on my way to  jog I happened to notice two stray dogs fighting over something. On a closer look, it was a used sanitary towel that they had dug out from the bin. It looked as if they had found some treasure! They had a good time tearing it apart and fighting over it while the other used sanitary towels, from the same common bag, lay near the bin. The fact that you have to get out of our house to throw them in a public bin means we haven’t made much progress socially.

Another time, while I happened to visit my father some years ago in a different city (and when I didn’t think on this subject then) I noticed a used towel thrown (three days continuously) from one of the floors of the building  to the ground floor. I used to look up but to no avail. So this girl/lady found this method of disposal as an easier option. Just throw it down from the bathroom window! With hundreds of people living in the building who would know who has thrown it! In all likelihood, it could be another young girl or a lady, educated yes as I would imagine all to be living there, but shy to discuss this topic at home and with men around. I am glad that some sort of revolution is taking place in the country and in the world, where the subject of menstruation is being openly talked about.

My solution: an openly designated space/box for each in the areas we live where we can respectfully and with no embarrassment dispose them off.

Old hands too many

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Two somewhat similar experiences last week made me think if it was something in me that needed to change or was it just ‘them’. By them I mean the older generation – who are at least two decades older than me. Eerily, both these incidents had similar themes: trying to tell off my 10-year old daughter in my very presence. The first was when she was surrounded, like everyday,  by her favourite stray dogs in the park. I was standing next to her. The gentleman who was on his evening stroll stopped by and told her to not to play with them as they could bite. The second gentleman happened to honk his car horn so loud while we were turning on the road on our bi-cycles that my daughter in panic applied the brakes there and then. He then happened to stop his car and roll down his co-passenger side window to tell me to tell my daughter to never apply brakes while turning   .

In both the above incidents I snapped at them, albeit politely (at least I thought I was polite). To the first one I said that she wasn’t playing with the dogs. Technically, she wasn’t ‘playing’ with them . They were just around her and she happened to like that. And to the second one, I said that if he didn’t honk his horn that loud she wouldn’t have stopped the cycle suddenly. The first fellow just left without any further advise and continued with his walk while the second one stopped his car again after we resumed on our bi-cycles to tell me that he only stopped by to tell me this as he would have told his daughter. I said a ‘thank you’ with an undertone of irritation.

Was it necessary for them to give their two bits when they knew a parent was present with the child or was I overreacting? Was it to tell me indirectly that I didn’t perform my parental duties properly and needed somebody with many years of more experience to tell me that? Or is it that that generation in particular believes in speaking its mind irrespective of the reaction and pass on their years of wisdom just to anyone and anywhere?

Yes I did feel sorry for the way I reacted. It also later on made me imagine that perhaps that they didn’t have a happy home where they lived with their grandchildren but couldn’t tell them off due to family limitations (evil daughters-in-law? rude grandchildren?). My imagination just took off to another level altogether as I perhaps wanted to cover up my guilt.

All in all, I am not claiming that I make a great and a perfect mother but really I can do without strangers, even in the garb of old age, giving me or my child (in my presence) a piece of advise when it is absolutely not required.

(illustration courtesy: thumbs.dreamstime.com)

New Sense

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Superstition precedes logic for so many of us. It is a belief,  if not widespread, that in order to keep negativity at bay one should avoid hearing negative stories of other people around you, that is their sob stories. Which I don’t see as being possible unless I stop talking to them completely! You pick up the phone and you have friends grumbling about their jobs, bosses, spouses, in-laws, health and what-not. And if my driver tells me that his daughter has typhoid, how can I just shun him away or even plainly say, ‘ok.’  And it will be all the more stupid that I cut his ‘sob story’ abruptly and start on another topic.

But what about positive news? Going by the same logic as above shouldn’t we be then spreading positivity around us by talking about it with our people. Apparently, no. That also turns to negativity once you let it flow out of your mouth. If someone was to share a positive news right away and if it goes bust later, you are the one to be blamed. The one with the ‘evil eye’! Nazar laga di, as they say in Hindi.

Agreed, that you do not go on announcing to the world about the happenings in your life unless you are an attention seeker, but what about good friends (I barely interact with most of my relatives, so they are excused) who do this? By good friends I mean who interact with you regularly, if not daily.  I still find it difficult to comprehend this. Yes, negative news I hear in abundance and perhaps let it out equally too (only that I don’t have a boss, husband and in-laws to grumble about!) but the positive ones come as a silent shocker to me. Oh, so tomorrow is your engagement! Oh, you are joining new office from Monday! Oh, you are shifting to a new house on the weekend! Wow! So all this month when we were talking daily it is strange that these things never popped up in the conversation even once! You just can’t wake up one fine morning and tell your friend that you have your engagement the next day!

In a way, if I was to look at all of this in a positive light, then I am glad that it was not shared with me after all. I surely don’t want to be the one with the ‘evil eye’! I know I am sounding ridiculous but if this is how the game is played then I can’t pretend to not understand the rules for so long. I am happy to re-wire myself and adapt to this line of thinking however illogical it is than be blamed for a broken marriage, miscarriage or redundancy at work. But house hunt? Really? Even that can’t be shared! Perhaps I need to make a list of things that I should accept as ‘normal’ to be not disclosed.

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p.s: I think I am getting good at this business of being hush-hush about all kind of news now. What they say, taste of your own medicine, eh?

(image courtesy: http://www.edutopia.org/)