A donation for your own good

I am quite unsure about whether the Bangalore Municipal department has gone completely mad, or become extremely creative. Both causes have the same effect, I know. But, before I get carried away in an argument with myself about the possibility of a dividing line between the two cheerful states of mind, let me share with you my reasons for the worthwhile pondering.

For many days, we in Bangalore have been haunted by the incessant noise of a garbage collection vehicle passing our streets early each morning on their charitable work of helping the good citizens keep their houses clean. But, I did care to notice that lately, the sound of their vehicle horn has been replaced by a much louder recorded announcement from a PA system mounted on each of these chariots! Quite innocently, due to the increase in the volume, I initially mistook their intentions. I told myself that now the garbage collection department of worthy Bangalore has added to their responsibility, the task of providing an alarm service to the not-so-early-birds like me.


But I’ve noticed on many occasions recently, that I have not been accurate on a few occasions; and due to my quest for a good self-image, I decided to arise (literally, from sleep) one day and try to listen to the announcement on the PA. Much to my chagrin, I saw that the employees of that department are in utmost haste and as they passed by my servile edifice, I was barely able to hear a complete sentence that was issued forth from the vehicle. I did however, being quite insistent that I am, repeat this attempt the next few days and was only able to catch the word ‘Donation’ from the verbal onslaught that commenced from the formidable device riding proudly on the vehicle. This time, I knew I had the whole story; the government was asking for donations to their cause of cleaning up the city and helping people rid their garbage. That evening, I made a mental note to visit the blessed ATM near my house which seems to provide me with money without questioning me the reason for the asking. I state this for a reason: I once saw someone wearing a t-shirt with ‘My dad is my ATM’ printed boldly across the chest. I found it quite inappropriate – my dad always asked me why I needed so much money, I thought that he had never been a teenager all his life.


To get back to my efforts, the next morning, I awoke early. At the moment I heard the garbage disposal turn the corner into my street; I stepped out into the open. My mouth was dry. My heart was racing. Finally, I was going to do something for my own city. The people would cheer me; applaud me as well, perhaps. I may someday even get elected mayor. And with such thoughts in my sleepy mind, and also equipped with some choice quotes of William H. Wordsworth that I had written down for just this speech, I flagged the garbage vehicle down, equipped only with my own trash-can as weapon of reason.


My nemesis jumped out of his carriage. One look at him, and in my head I wondered how many deserts he’d crossed on foot, how many oceans he might was swum and finally ended up here in Bangalore employed to drive a garbage collection van. Frankly, he looked so weathered and hardened, I stopped with a shock and had second thoughts about proceeding on my favorable endeavor. With faint recollections of the stories of courage from the myths of Greece, India and other parts of Europe, I stood my ground. He thrust out his arm to deprive me of my only defense. I gave him the garbage bag that I was holding in my arm. The reader will need to note at this moment that I did not just blindly hand him over the bag. At that exact moment, I was actually doing an exercise in controlling my emotions and facing demons. I was also assessing the person himself. I noticed that he had elicited from possibly a remote village towards the east. This put me at an advantage and I asked him what the announcement was all about.


He gave me a wry smile that would have weakened the hearts of many a Juliet who would have chanced to glance at him that moment and told me that it was an announcement for ‘Kachara’ or garbage collection. At that exact moment, the delicacy and strength of the human communication system struck me full well in my mind. I realized that we both did not speak the same language, but from his experience of working in this region, he had learnt to seek keywords to understand the context of my message to a rate of alarming accuracy. I knew instantly that I had met a form of life and intelligence definitely higher than almost all of the tutors and professors I’ve had the misfortune to acquaint. There is, as usual, a good reason for this inference as well:

I was speaking to a person who picked a few of my words and was able to understand my entire sentence. But with tutors, despite of providing most of the formulae / answers, I have, at a maximum, been able to painfully extort a mere shake of the head and a few times, I was told that I had to work harder at my lessons. So, quite unmistakably, this person was of a higher intelligence than most of my tutors.


And now was the magic moment when my life, my social status and grace would apex. I questioned him as to the ‘Donations’ mentioned on the PA system. His response left me stunned. To translate into English, his words were as below:

‘The government is asking everyone to DONATE their garbage, so they can lead a healthier life within their homes. We would like everyone to donate all their plastic and any other items which are not part of nature too. We want you to be happy and healthy.’


To this day, I haven’t been able to decide what amazes me more: the creativity involved in the garbage collection which encourages our good citizens to ‘donate’ their garbage to the government, or the concern and care shown by a ruling political party towards their people.



Most of the above facts are true and still happen everyday here in Bangalore. Although some thoughts have been exaggerated, I would like to sign off with the words of Robert Plant from the ‘Led Zeppelin’ rock-band: the song remains the same!


S Prasad

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