An entrepreneur friend of mine from Delhi landed in Bangalore (where I live) the other week. Huffing and puffing, he barged in through the door and plonked himself on the couch, exhaling loudly as he ripped off the metal clamp that he had inserted his nose into.
I looked at my watch. He was a good five hours late. I was about to ask him the reason for the delay in his flight when he silenced me with a stinker. “Yaar, what the eff is wrong with your city?”
I asked him to relax, not knowing what the eff he was talking about.
The friend snorted, beckoning for a hand-held fan. “You know? It was easier to find Bangalore from the air earlier. It used to be a patch of friendly green when you looked down. Today, the pilot circled for two hours but couldn’t spot the darned city!”
Obviously, the three-hour flight plus the five-hour delay had somehow tickled him the wrong way (or in the wrong place). But Bangalore is still green, I protested.
The protest fell on hairy, deaf ears. For the tirade continued. “Yeah. But it’s dark green! Almost brown!”
Giving him the fan and a thanda to boot, I gave him a look. What do you expect, I asked him airily, with garbage shrouding the city in a protective cover. The cheek of these Delhi-walas, I say! Can’t they make out the city’s changed?
As if reading my mind, the friend, sipping the thanda with a suspicious tongue, shot back. “What do you mean the city’s changed? It’s no more the Garden City?”
Eh? What’s that?
“Err… Garden City?”
Of course not, I chided him. Bangalore’s become a dump and become the “Gar-dump City”, what with all the garbage floating around, raining down, seeping up and oozing through every conceivable pore in its seams. You mean you weren’t “current” on that?
On the defensive, the friend looked down into his thanda, sipping religiously. After all, Delhi-walas are supposed to be current on all affairs, including current affairs.
Hang on, I told him. You are late by five hours, but your flight delay was only two hours. What happened to the remaining three? Did they get sucked into some wet compost pit?
The lop-sided smirk returned on my friend’s face as he gave the thanda a final passionate slurp and turned to me. “How do you think I came here from the airport? There were no effin’ cabs, yaar! Or those three-wheeled contraptions…”
Autos, I volunteered helpfully, knowing fully well the hairy ears were not tuned to human frequencies.
“Yeah, autos. I tell you, not one in sight. Had to use the public transport. Can you believe that, yaar? From the airport, that too! By the way, the extra three-hour delay was because we were all struggling to get out of the airport. Strangely, I couldn’t see any roads leading out of the airport, you know?”
Oh, there are roads in Bangalore, I reassured him. Need proof? I pay my road tax. So, there should be roads out there somewhere. Only, they’re lost under the sea of put-put-ting two-wheelers and the tidal waves of tuk-tuk-ing public transport vehicles.
The mention of public transport made my friend’s nose wrinkle up again. “Kya yaar, you call that public transport? Hideous looking vehicles, with their rear half cut open and sloshing to the brim with dark green and brown blobs!”
Oh, that. It was my turn to smirk. That, I piped up, is par for Bangalore… err, the Gardump City nowadays. Dump trucks have taken over the public transport system, you see.
The wrinkle deepened, opening up a frown in the process. “Those were dump trucks?”
Of course, I chided him. I then threw on a haughty air (contaminated, of course, by the aroma of sewage that’s so omnipresent nowadays). There are so many dump trucks, I explained with an un-wrinkled nose, that the civic authorities have done away with public transport buses. Not only do we save on gas but also clear up the roads by having dump trucks double up as public transport vehicles. Brilliant, na?
The wrinkle-weary friend doubled up, tears streaming down his un-wrinkled cheeks. “Dump trucks for public transport! What next?”
I leaned back. It was going well. My know-it-all Delhi-wala friend had a lot to learn. With a smug smile, I explained that the very same dump trucks had other uses as well. Such as mobile lavatories.
The jaw under the wrinkled nose hit the floor. “Huh?”
What better place than dump trucks, I elucidated with a flourish, to take a quick dump when you need to on the fly? After all, when you gotta go, you gotta go.
Picking up his jaw, the confused friend nodded his assent, even if grudgingly. “Convenient, but gross yaar!”
Wagging a pointy finger, I tut-tut-ed. Don’t, I told him, dump to conclusions. I mean, don’t jump to conclusions. After all, you can hardly conclude your dumping while jumping.
The nodding became vigorous. “What else do these amazing dump trucks do?”
Imagine, I told him, that you are being dumped by someone. Now, if these dump trucks are moving around 24×7, the stench they would generate would surely make the dumped guy, which is you, forget about the pain of being dumped? And the dumper would surely rethink her decision to dump you since nothing, not even her relationship with you, could be quite as bad as the dump truck’s stench?
The nodding stopped and the head-wobbling (customary in Indian conversations when defeat is imminent) started.
And finally, I exhorted, if you are ever “down in the dumps”, just remember how you escaped from Gardump City and that’ll immediately cheer you up. How’s that for instant therapy? It’s sure to leave you breathless.
“What else do you Bangaloreans… sorry, Gardump-ians do? Is this the change you were crowing about?”
Of course, I exclaimed, thumping him on the back. We’ve also become masters at passing the buck. At “dumping our work on others”, if you will.
The civic authorities for example, I explained, dump their responsibilities on us.
“That happens all over India, yaar…”
Not like here though, I solemnly corrected him. Here, the civic authorities no longer pick up our dump and dispose it though they merrily levy municipal taxes and drain taxpayers’ money with nary a second thought. Their new mantra? You generate the dump, you dispose the dump!