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Standing tall

One month. Okay, we’ll be kinder. Three months. That’s the time limit we are willing to put our money on to see if the freshly redone Khada Parsi statue will survive the wrath of our nearly non-existent civic sense.

It was undoubtedly heartwarming, and even reassuring, to note that city newspapers carried reports of this landmark being reopened to the public, especially in this day and age where jostling for column space can be compared to finding a toehold in a Kalyan fast.

We also hope that the grand restoration of this Byculla centerpiece finds a mention on travel itineraries and city guidebooks, and doesn’t get lost in the bustle and din of this busy junction.

For way too long, we’ve watched how Mumbai’s heritage structures have undergone much-needed, much-delayed ‘face washes’ facelifts or renovation, only to return to their old, grimy avatar because we simply don’t care. Take the examples of the city’s municipal corporation building or even CST.

Sterling examples of FW Stevens’ fine vision, both have undergone several clean-ups. Yet, and no surprises here, the disdain with which we treat these pillars of our city is appalling. The lesser said about the alarming pace with which paan stains and litter surface at various corners of these magnificent jewels of Mumbai, the better.

Take a look at any of our general hospitals — institutions that must lead the way as far as cleanliness goes and one can gauge why our landmarks don’t even stand a chance in this civic sense-less city. “It’s in our DNA, yaar!” I overhead two collegians on a train remark while complaining about the filthy state of the women’s compartment. What followed left me with an unpleasant aftertaste.

When these two girls, who were standing by the footboard, were done sipping from their tetrapaks, they chucked it outside the door, without as much as a blink. Such episodes aren’t exceptions. All around us, educated, aware citizens treat Mumbai as if it’s a communal dumping ground. What’s worse, even BMC’s green dustbins had gone missing years ago!

Until the number of alert citizens increases thousand-fold, and our systems and rules get stricter and hefty fines are charged for littering around, or vandalizing, structures, the point will never be driven home in this chalta-hai atmosphere. And, we’ll hope that our not-so-pleasant prediction doesn’t come true.

The writer is Features Editor of mid-day

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