An article I'd written back in undergrad that never went to print:
The Vedas and Upanishads introduced the concept of ‘atman’ or the ‘self’ which, in essence, declares that ‘only the self exists’. Whatever might have been their intention at that time, we have, very conveniently, interpreted it to suit ourselves, so that, the ideology now subsists as a pernicious indifference to everything and everyone around us.
I shall give you the simple example of our hostels. Some of us keep the very rooms in which we stay (or not) so dirty. This is only a small cluster and most of us, I’m glad, care to keep the room spic and span. But the room is cleaned by elegantly pushing the dust out on to the corridor (read dust bin), and this, in spite of there being a refuse bin every four rooms. The bathrooms are used to dispose of tufts of public (the ‘l’ is only to avoid crude language and out of concern for the prude) hair. If those aren’t enough to clog the drain holes then there are always the soap packets and shampoo sachets. On the one hand, we use showers without scruples and, on the other, we choose to conserve water by rendering the flush redundant! The stairs are, fortunately, cleaner with just the odd cigarette butt and a couple of juice tetra paks.The ground floor serves as a repository of SAC litter. There is a ‘tide’ of sachets all around the washing machine making for a bad ‘aerial’ view. When in the mess, in blatant disregard to the adage that ‘one man’s food may be another man’s poison’, we use the ‘same’ hand (or just ‘hand’ in the case of those who use both hands!)to eat food and serve ourselves or pass the food around. The boon of having a freezer for soft drinks is a bane to the mess workers as people callously leave the bottles outside the mess, on the floor, or more precariously, on the window ledges and the monkeys give a helping hand by deftly pushing them off the ledge.
This indifference doesn’t stop with the hostel, and how can it, for it seems to be in our blood, not our heads. There are always a few cycles parked so as to block the shed entrance and those who sincerely park well inside the shed are, with equal sincerity, prevented from removing their cycles by those who park later. I shan’t venture to elaborate on the little game of dominoes that we play in these stands everyday. We cycle or walk in groups at a snail’s pace and often in large groups thus occupying most of the road. Even ambulance drivers would be astonished by the privileges we fellow assume for ourselves on the road. We enter the class only to find that the professor who taught in the previous hour has been generous enough to leave his intellectual work for us to admire. And we do just that until our professor comes and decides to show his contempt for that work and erases it mercilessly. When the class ends, we leave behind signs of our ‘brilliance’. Only, it is seen in the tubes and bulbs, not to mention the fans. In fact, as we walk the department corridors our hostel rooms also give notice of our ‘power’ful presence with fans remaining switched on. When we are walking to the next class, or when we are just free, it is important for us to carry out our communications in a manner which suggests we are eternally anticipating an aero plane over our heads or practicing for helicopter conversations for we will all eventually be multimillionaires with the said conveyance in our possession. Indeed, it is therefore only too appropriate for the nearby classes going on that they should halt and watch us future luminaries rehearse.
So in every step one takes, starting from within one’s room, and moving in any direction, all the way till the end of this campus, one witnesses this appalling apathy. If I cover the entire institute in all its glory I am afraid I shall never have enough space to write it all and besides, it is my sincere wish that I get this article printed without censorship. That one is indifferent to dirt is no excuse to be indifferent to one’s surroundings. This is a cry to one and all, not to take responsibility to keep one’s surroundings clean, not even to show concern for the surroundings, but, only, to overcome this horrifying indifference and do what elementary common sense would dictate. Please! Let’s be different, or at least, less indifferent.