Thursday, October 09, 2008

The Indian man and the wall.

Have you noticed how most Indian men are attracted to walls? To them (I deliberately won't use the word 'us', because a decent minority is an exception to what I'm going to say), a clean wall is what a canvas is to an artist, what a sheet of empty paper is to a poet, and what a pole is to a dog. In fact, these worthies like walls so much that they even named a person after that.

Ofcourse, not all of them have the same sentiment towards the wall. A clean wall brings out the artist in some, who by wavy motions of their hips etch out their self-image on the wall. For some others, it brings out the literateur, and encourages them to sign off on the wall, and for most, a clean wall brings out the animal, forcing them to mark out their territory with the zeal and enthusiasm of their four-legged ancestors.

And there are the mechanisms of 'delivery'. Some prefer to stand at their full height, as though they are covering themselves in glory. Some others squat, hiding their faces in shame, as they imprint their pathetic selves on the wall. Still some others focus intently on the 'job' at hand, ignoring everything happening around them.

You know what I'm talking about - rivulets of shame that adorn all public walls in the country. If someone unaware in the way of the Indian man were to look at our walls, he/she would have to be forgiven for thinking that it was some form of post-modern depiction of mountainous scenery.

Try stopping these worthies from carrying out their business, and you'll face a flood of abuse that is only rivalled by the trickle they are letting go on the wall. You are first asked if you own the wall, or if your father inherited it, and if you reply in the positive, you are accused, among other things, of being a wall-owning elitist, who can't even stand to share it with those whose need for it obviously exceeds yours.

Ingenious methods have been devised by wall owners to prevent their walls from falling victim to a passing 'painter's fancy. Messages like "ಇಲ್ಲಿ ಹೇಸಿಗೆ ಮಾಡಬಾರದು" are regularly ignored both by the literate and the illiterate. I remember many years ago, the BMP introducing sign boards like this one in the city, and one man went about doing his job squatting under the sign. Apparently, he thought that it was only wrong to stand while 'doing his job', but squatting was perfectly acceptable.

The only sign that has worked though, is to embed into the walls, pictures of gods. Now, with India being what it is, a secular democracy, people have even gone to the extent of including gods of all faiths - I once came upon a wall that had Ganesha, Jesus, Guru Gobind Singh, and the cresent moon and star sign on the same side. Apparently, this had worked, as the wall was spotlessly clean!

Just ranting on a holiday. Happy Dasara folks!

1 comment:

navneet said...

it really is quite a shame...whats worse is when you're passing a railway tracks on your way to work/study each day and you see men squatted doing the other notorious thing.

it's like what sarah mcdonald write in her book 'holy cow'.