Dust and disorderliness are the only impressions I could form during my morning jaunt .As far back as I can remember,my town has always been under a construction boom .
Red bricks haphazardly stacked up on roadsides,dogs lazing in sand-mounds covering half the streets,water rivulets running out of houses from leaking pipes, erected wooden pavilions for workmen to climb on and apply plaster on walls and Bhil labourers carrying cement-lime-sand mixture in steel tagaris on their heads are some of the most common sights in Kota. I feel at home,reassured at these comfort viewings . Yellow coloured Concrete Mixture machines are almost a part of the landscape.
There are simply too many people in Kota in too small a space. No one complains about overcrowding. Outstation coaching students provide us our bread and butter.The high density of population ,as well as the fact that an average lower middle class Indian has virtually no use for cleanliness and aesthetics,conspire to give the town a filty,unsettled look . An average Joe is too hard-pressed between family,job and survival.His wife nags him about everything,his kids are studying in some coaching class to find seats in some presitigous medical or engineering college.
Modi has done what Gandhi could not.He has succeeded in sensitising the common man about safai. But in the absence of punitive measures,people pay lip service to the ideal. It is fear or compulsion which can effect any change in this country,atleast in this town,not persuasion or moddycoddling .
Municipal governance is conspicuous by its absence.The same story repeats itself across almost all cities and towns in India except the capitals and metros. Elected officials do not bother to bring about change.Common folks don’t bother their representatives with mundane tasks as safai or beautification. Local elections are fought and won on the basis of caste, money and patronage . It’s very easy to understand the Iocal mindset if you stand next to a public dustbin .Just keep an eye on people as they throw rubbish on roads ,despite the presence of a bin in their close proximity. This is what I observed today.These are my people,I can hardly complain.
I entered a purported stadium with the objective of jogging. There used to be a decent enough ground fifteen years back where I used to play cricket along with my friends. Now it is no more than a dirty,unkempt park,resembling a Waste Land.
I could spot a lot of paunches and eyebags bouncing about on the paved floor as they circumambulated around a rump cricket field. Needless to say the ground was full of potholes, sported longish ,uncut and sporadic grass, and was littered with plastic bags ,water bottles and what else ,but some construction rabble and sand. A water pipe leaked somewhere and logged the corners of the field.
There were some kids in the field trying to play a sport which resembled cricket ,but should actually be called bat-ball . Three distinct pitches were laid out- one in the centre,and two on the corners.Some oldies were running over the whole field with a football as well. I was appalled to note that none of the players was exerting himself.They were not even using tennis balls,but cheap,bouncy rubber balls.Batsmen made no effort to play proper shots.They just threw their bats around,didn’t even bother to complete their strokes and I saw many a batsmen fall down due to lack of proper balance . Bowlers bowled without taking even a single step.This was baseball being played ,just that the ball had to hit the ground once before the batsman hit it. My mood was sullied beyond repair. The feeling got worsened as I saw some women clumsily performing yogic exercises and pranayams.They could not be bothered to even leave their benches ,or even sit cross-legged for the purpose.
I could not push myself to run in such an environment. I despaired for what had become of my town. Lethargy and callousness loomed everywhere.People were going through the motions in imperfect forms and figures.Everyone was resigned, it was satisfaction that was writ upon them.I was depressed by the thought that perhaps it was always like this,and the imperfecions in me were a result of having grown up in these surroundings. I rushed out of the stadium and cursed out loud. I ended up shocking a bored cow,which shat and peed in the middle of the road. A dog barked at me,and then lazily followed me back home.