It was 1987 and we were spending the summer with our grandparents in Trivandrum. Our cousins had also come down and in all we were having a really good time. I was about 6 years old with a sister of 2 and my cousin brother was about 5 years old. Our ancestral home was located amidst a really huge garden filled coconut and chikku trees. You can imagine how the place must have looked for the tiny tots that we were…a wonderland full of promise for our wild imaginations. We could be fairies, princes, princess, queens you name it. The world was ours to rule.
One sunny afternoon as we were playing, I caught my brother peeing in my make believe castle and I was shattered. I ran home to complain to his mom about what he did and the answer I got haunts me till date. She explained to both of us that since he was a boy he could pee anywhere and it was different for girls! Needless to say my brother ran off with a smirk on his face. I think at that point of time I was more confused than shocked because I did not know then that our society made different rules for little boys and little girls just as it does for men and women. All I remember feeling is a sense of betrayal and upset.
The incident has stayed me through my life. Every time I see men peeing against walls I am now alternatively ashamed and angry. Ashamed because this is one of the main reasons why India is now so sought out for slum tourism and angry because in some ways we don’t even acknowledge the fact that it is an incorrect thing to do. Little boys are brought up to believe they can pee anywhere and hence grow into men who have no sense of shame or more importantly hygiene. Even educated men, dressed in smart suits think world is their toilet and pee anywhere.
Two days back I came to realize it was not just India, which was a victim of this behavior! P and I saw two different people peeing in the nearby park on two consecutive days! I came back last evening and tried to find on the internet if there was some sort of law for this matter in Brussels and in doing I found this article. Apparently the same was happening in Paris too, before the government took constructive steps like install a group of men as brigade des Incivilities, which roughly translates into ‘bad behavior brigade’, who catch the offenders and fine them 450 euros. This money was then used to build more public toilets all over the city. I hate to sound cynical but any such step in India will only provide another avenue for the “policing team” to pocket some bribe. Yes, sad as it sounds it is likely that the average Indian man will bribe his way through peeing than pay and use a public toilet.
I remember watching a bakara episode on MTV. Cyrus of MTV interviewed people urinating in public places. I think that was excellent idea and effort taken towards curtailing this note worthy. I can only hope that all those individuals caught on camera would think twice before doing it again. Sigh. Then again it cannot be done on every single person who does this and hence it is not a permanent cure. So what is the cure? How do we stop this problem? Do we need an epidemic scare like H1N1 which spreads on urinating in public to finally sit up and take notice?
Maybe it should start at an individual level, right at our home. I can safely bet that most women find this act disgusting and so I urge them to try and instill in their sons the importance of hygiene. I wish schools and doctors would start talking about this at every possible avenue. Maybe if all this is in place, a legislation passed for a hefty fine would also help in breaking the habit.
Human beings are an intelligent species and like every species peeing is a necessity but doing that in public places is nothing but an extreme affront to our very being- our intelligence.