When you see someone purposefully striding up to a garbage dump, rubble, construction site, behind a tree or facing a wall, arms akimbo, and standing at ease, he is a Bangalorean on a mission - “on your mark, get set, pee”. Sir Pee is choosy about the venue for relief, emergency or otherwise !
     Indian citizens take their constitutional Right to Freedom very seriously. They love to spit, honk, litter, break queues, jump traffic signals, create public nuisance, put up loudspeakers and set up shamianas in the middle of the road, at will. Bangalore’s walls are a kaleidoscope of local politicians and their henchmen or posters of movie stars. There are occasional boards that read, “Illi Mootra Visarjana Nishedha” or “Do not urine/urinate here”, or more politely “Please do not pass urine here” or “Do not pass piss please”. One was innovative and read, “Only dogs pee on walls, not men".  These boards , notwithstanding, Mootra visarjana in India’s Silicon city is a frequently pursued pastime, not just by the toilet-deprived citizens, but sometimes even by the city’s seemingly literate or educated class either because they lack civic sense and shame or both or simply don’t care. One always wondered why this is a scourge rampant in Bangalore as compared to other Indian cities. Is it Bangalore’s much-envied salubrious climate that drives the “pee-ple” to dispense nature’s liquid waste out in the open, under the skies, or is it the lack of public toilets? Or is it our patriarchal society that allows men or boys to be told that it is alright for them to pee on the streets. After all, they are the superior sex!

A local radio channel was imaginative enough to embarrass Sir Pee by getting someone to whistle or play the drum if he was caught thus!
From a pensioner’s paradise to a pensioner’s nightmare and a garden city to a Silicon city to a garbage city, Bangalore has indeed come a long way. The planners perhaps did not envisage that the city would swell to a population of 85 lakhs in 2013 or that it would require improved basic amenities like water and sanitation. Karnataka has the dubious distinction of providing the least number of public toilets for its citizens.

     Alas, Bangalore is now a city bogged down by its own growth and success story. It has some of the snazziest buildings, swankiest cars and ritziest malls, but sadly, it has a measly 503 public toilets of which only 200 are in usable condition. A recent survey indicated that Bangalore would need atleast 5000 public toilets.  

     It is not common to find your city being used as a verb, and I was proud of the neologism, “Bangalored”, coined in America when one’s job was outsourced or moved to India, or specifically, Bangalore. Trudging along the battered pavements or crossing a crater ridden road in large parts of Bangalore is a test of one’s athletic skills and tolerance to stench! Bangalored, indeed ! The citizens need to wake up and rise as one man to curb this abhorrent, shameful menace. With elections round the corner, will the aspiring politicians promise us a pee-free environment in their manifesto ? 

Latha Raghuram.



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