Friday, May 05, 2006

crossing the road to take a dump

thats what i saw a couple of guys doing this morning. they were at a traffic light carrying a bucket of water each and waiting patiently for a break in the flow of traffic so that they could get to the other side of the road and join a mass of humanity performing their morning ablutions.

65% of this great city either lives in shanties or is homeless. with roughly 20 million inhabitants that leaves 13 million people without access to toilets. the local government and some citizens groups have constructed public toilets but these can service only a small percentage of the demand.

the net result is that no matter where you stay on this fine island city, there is someone shitting in the open and within walking distance of you. this is true regardless of whether you stay in bourgeois or proletarian neighbourhoods.

a commute by the local suburban railway is an assault, both visual and olfactory. the railway lines are bordered by slums and tenements all along the grid. this in effect makes it the longest continuous open air toilet in this part of the world.

a visitor could be forgiven for thinking that this is more a city of shitters than the proverbial city of dreams or the financial capital of the country that it is made out to be.


cameron said...

this is a poor reflection on the local government. no one would want to defecate in public, so if these guys do so then its only because of a lack of infrastructure. to say that its just incompetent town planning would be an understatement

Anonymous said...

is this applicable only to the 'city of dreams'...from my limited travel experiences, i could say that bombay (mumbai) isn't the only place with an open air toilet...correct me if i'm wrong.