Have you watched the latest series of Cadbury ads titled ‘Shubh Aarambh’? Each episode is a masterpiece. The content, the central idea, the message, the simplicity of its execution – kudos! I would have loved to write a piece on each of those individual ads. But today, this post is in response to the episode where the ‘cool’ guy goes back to pick up the empty packet he had just thrown on the road.
I remember I once went through this phase of “cleanliness is next to Godliness”. It was my response to the governments’ war-cry to maintain a clean city. I would never throw any empty cans, bottles, wrappers, used papers, packets, sachets etc on the street. I used to take it home or the nearest dustbin & dispose it there. And I would also lecture others about it (costs nothing to lecture others you see!). I had read somewhere that in some countries (particularly Singapore) littering and spitting in public places is a punishable offence. That had got me thinking. Fined for littering? Hmm. The agenda was to not dirty the streets anymore than it already was.
That was also the time when I had the highest concentration of Desh Prem (no … not the Manoj Kumar variety; just a lot more simpler & basic type) in my blood & wanted to do my bit towards a cleaner India. This is the least I could do for my city, state & thereof my country. After all, I know I am no Bhagat Singh.
Years passed. And with it, my “safaai” phase passed off too. The desh prem weaned. The lectures were happily forgotten. I was back to my lazy self.
Last week, when I ate the cut slices of papaya from a piece of paper offered by a roadside vendor & threw the paper into the moving traffic as our car sped along, I immediately felt a tinge of guilt. I thought for a second of another ad where this lady on a bike chases a car & thrusts the empty bottle back at the person who had thrown it out on the road. What if someone does that to my face? Oh my God!
It’s true that Indians clean their houses but dirty their neighborhood. It kills me to say this but I must admit I am guilty too. Plastic covers, packets of chips, chocolate wrappers, empty beer bottles rolled down the sides of deserted roads (the last one – courtesy – Sathya) I am guilty. Now, every time I see the Cadbury ad, it makes me want to revive my personal campaign of the earlier days.
So here I am. This 2011 I will do my bit. I will not litter. It is a promise. I will not give in to the attitude, “I can get away with this”, chaltha hai yaar. Maybe this time it will outlast my temporary craze & actually become a habit. Hope this habit dies hard. I will remind myself that I may be fined. Come to think of it, maybe THAT’S what we need – imposition of a hefty fine for littering. The way the helmet rule is grudgingly but diligently adhered to now in Bangalore, maybe a fine in this case would awaken the collective consciousness of people. Hope Tan & her generation grow up to break this ‘typically Indian’ habit of littering around just like the guy in the Cadbury ad. All it takes is a resolve. I resolve not to litter.