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Why litterbugs are unrepentant

At the World Cup this week, images surfaced of Japanese fans cleaning their junk out of the stadium after their country’s game. In Mumbai, at the same time, a guy got punched in the face for asking two men not to litter.

The idiots in question were in a BMW, which is shocking to me because usually people in BMWs are so sweet, like Sanjeev Nanda.

First of all, hi-fives to Vistasp Kharas, the man who told the idiots what was what. Second, fist-bumps to Mumbai Mirror for making a noise about it until the people in question were named and shamed.

At the World Cup this week, images surfaced of Japanese fans cleaning their junk out of the stadium after their country’s game. In Mumbai, at the same time, a guy got punched in the face for asking two men not to litter At the World Cup this week, images surfaced of Japanese fans cleaning their junk out of the stadium after their country’s game. In Mumbai, at the same time, a guy got punched in the face for asking two men not to litter
At the World Cup this week, images surfaced of Japanese fans cleaning their junk out of the stadium after their country’s game. In Mumbai, at the same time, a guy got punched in the face for asking two men not to litter

More props for going the extra mile in asking “How daft can we make these tools look?”, and putting a photograph of one of the offenders in a Jack Sparrow outfit on their front page.

The bad news is, we’re still doomed, because let’s face it, there’s more BMW dudes in India than there are Vistasps. And I’m reminded of my favourite (if there can be such a thing) littering episode, which I hope will explain my point.

I was at Goa airport, waiting to catch a flight back to Mumbai. I was flying a national carrier out, which gave me plenty of extra time to sit and observe my co-passengers. There were several, but my eyes came to rest on one family in particular.

There were five of them; papa bear, momma bear, overfed twelve- year-old baby bear, on-his-way-to-overfed nine-year-old baby bear, and older cousin bear, who kept trying to talk to nine-year-old bear, except that nine-year-old bear was more interested in something on his phone. Overfed bear sat in the middle, the shoelaces on his sneakers lying open. He was reading a book. It was The Three Mistakes of My Life by Chetan Bhagat. I had my suspicions immediately.

Overfed bear was overfeeding himself a chocolate bar as he read. At the risk of sounding creepy, I watched him the whole time. He digested each bite carefully, chewing at each bite for so long, cows in the vicinity got insecure. The page, oddly enough, never turned once. The chocolate was done, the wrapper left alone. Overfed bear didn’t even blink. He lowered his arm and dropped the wrapper to the floor.

Time slowed and reality bent. His mother turned and looked at him, the fate of the universe in the balance. She had noticed his misdeeds, and surely she would explain to him the error of his ways, send her son down a better path of civic sense and responsibility. Then she yawned and got on her hands and knees herself.

The universe shuddered, but all was not lost yet. She would pick it up, and in doing so teach him his responsibility through the time-tested maternal technique of shame and emotional blackmail. Instead, she stretched her arms out, and tied his shoelaces.

Prone in front of him, at his feet, it was a grotesque parody of worship. Like all cruel gods, he didn’t even look up from his book as she raised herself back into her chair. The wrapper lay untouched. The universe was lost. And this is why we’re doomed.

That kid will never know that littering is wrong. Worse, he seemed to come from a system that has turned wrong into virtue, a show of arrogance. That’s why one of the accused today is unrepentant; he doesn’t even think he has committed a crime.

Rohan Joshi is a writer and stand-up comedian who likes reading, films and people who do not use the SMS lingo. You can also contact him on www.facebook.com/therohanjoshi

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