Reclaiming Our Roads: How You Can Help Curb A Social Menace

Posted: June 11, 2014

Many men believe that peeing on the streets is a divine right. This thoughtful post raises some important questions about this ugly practice, and provides answers about how change can start at home.

Inspired by ‘Need to Pee? Find a Toilet!’ by Suchi Gaur.

In a programme  on SAB TV,  Ashok  Chakardhar, an eminent poet,  read out a poem about how during a poetry reading session when he went out to piss, a policeman caught  him. The policeman  wanted to use sections 110 and 98 on him for pissing at a public place. The poet was surprised at the policeman’s untoward behaviour and innocently confirmed from him “Dhaaraa bahaane par bhi dhaara?” (a penalty for peeing, too?).

The poem had me doubled up with laughter. I am a fan of the poet but it also stirred up a long-standing sore point –  the learned poet’s easy acceptance  of  the fact that pissing at public places by men is not wrong, rather it is right and it’s their right!

The accepted practice of men standing on the roadside (mercifully with their backs turned to the road) and pissing is no more acceptable. This mindset has to be changed. What kind of society are we living in? I am not talking about the uneducated ones. I am talking about the sleek city dwellers who are degree-holders, have bikes, cars, and mobiles, but do not hesitate to stand by the side of the road and pee. Doesn’t their civic sense tell them that it is wrong, indecent and unhygienic?

What kind of society are we living in? I am not talking about the uneducated ones. I am talking about the sleek city dwellers … Doesn’t their civic sense tell them that it is wrong, indecent and unhygienic?

 

I think it is a culture-specific phenomenon. You won’t find Indians settled abroad doing this, but when in India they won’t think twice before relieving themselves in this manner.

Once, someone had shared our car to reach a friend’s place for a dinner party. This gentleman got out of the car when we reached our destination and requested my brother and husband  to wait for a second, and he disappeared behind the well cut serene hedges of the staff quarters. We waited. When he came back, we went and pressed our host’s door  bell. Obviously, it was against the notions of decency of the gentleman to ask his hostess’ permission to visit their loo. Or, maybe  he really believed in answering the  call of nature in nature and not  in a confined toilet.

I am sure this practice of choosing nature (read open spaces) is very ancient. The collective (un)consciousness of the males is unable to let it go. This also explains why a highly scientific culture, which could evolve Yoga, settled on folding hands in namaste on meeting, instead of touching the person like Europeans, Arabs, Americans do.

It’s better your two hands touch themselves, and not others because boys will be boys and men will be men! I often wonder when men are shaking hands, which is the one who has pissed by the road side and hasn’t yet had the chance to wash his hands. The same thought flashes through my mind when I see the roadside eateries or vendors selling ice creams. As it is, the town planners too should wake up. They allow people to build shops for commercial purpose on residential plots, if the plots are facing the main road, without building urinals.

I often wonder when men are shaking hands, which is the one who has pissed by the road side and hasn’t yet had the chance to wash his hands.

I purchased a flat because of the lovely view it had. It faces a traffic island, which is a green oasis. But the builder put a transformer near the greenery, and because the shops on all the sides don’t have urinals, the walls of the transformer have made it the chosen spot for the unofficial public urinal. The lovely view is gone forever. I can’t even open the door or the windows of that side because of the stench. I feel enraged, I feel so helpless. Day and night the tiles shine because they are being  anointed all the time. This tamasha can’t be stopped.

I even approached the mayor, who expressed his inability and joked that even the Parliament would not be able to solve my problem. I am sure this issue was/is not on his priority list. And even if civic authorities were to construct toilets, the three walls and the door to each toilet would be decorated with the streaks of dried rivulets, surrounded by slush, because men won’t like to go in.

What will it take to make the men realize that this practice should be banned, shunned, and abandoned? It is disgusting and uncouth. Ashok Chakardhar mentioned the policeman who wanted to charge him for the offence. What does one do when one finds the very policeman doing the same thing?

Anonymity given by the big cities definitely acts as an encouraging factor. I want to appeal to all the readers – put the fear of God in your sons’ hearts that this practice is wrong and it should not be perpetrated. May be in a decade or two my evening walks won’t be spoiled by the sight of boors standing by the side of the road.

The incompetence of the police is evident.On the home front, if we can teach our girls certain norms, we can teach the same to our boys too. I’m sure all the MCPs would object strongly. Their mindset, if questioned closely, will reveal that they regard this practice as a part of self-expression. Has Ashok Chakardhar ever wondered how his feminine counterparts manage? And why shouldn’t they be emulated?

Pic credit: mliu92 (Used under a CC license)

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