Funny how you can live somewhere for aeons, and yet still be so out of sync.
So, there I was this morning, walking my dogs in the part of the jungle that mercifully still survives on Delhi’s Ridge. It was about 6 am and the humidity must have been well over 200 per cent (I exaggerate, obviously, but it was stickily, steamingly humid). The forest floor was a sea of squelchy mud, and the leaves were so clean and green after the rain that they almost hurt the eyes.
The sky was a deep piercing blue. It was utterly glorious. Too, too beautiful a start to a day.
There were birds and butterflies and peacocks dancing and huge fat feral pigs, and a herd of cows that scornfully ignored my barking, yappy puppies. Our usual path had been transformed into a pop-up pond, complete with a pair of spot-billed ducks swimming placidly around.
The dogs were delirious.
I was all blissed-out.
Then I passed another walker who said, “Good morning. Isn’t it a horrible day? Too damned hot and humid. Just awful,” and off he stomped.
Horrible? Heat horrible?
What could possibly be horrible about a deep blue sky and a washed-clean jungle? What could be nicer than the sun on one’s face? Perhaps you have to have lived – as I did as a child – in grey and chilly and gloomily damp Blighty to appreciate how totally glorious heat and sun are. Perhaps you have to have counted your shillings, in order to feed a totally inadequate tiny gas heater, as I did as an impecunious young woman, to revel in bright light and an over-arching sky, and sun, sun, sun.
Anyway, suffice it to say that I was polite to the grumpy walker and kept all these sappy thoughts to myself. But I did think as I squelched on through the damp forest – all these years here in India, and I still get it wrong about the weather.
Now, of course, every coin has a reverse.
So there is obviously an inevitable flip side to all this revelling in the heat and humidity, whilst all about me crib. And here it is: all about me seem not to notice the rubbish that stains and spoils the jungle, whilst I crib away about it. One man’s meat is another man’s poison. After all these years of knowing India, it still baffles me why people chuck their water bottle/chip packet/gutka packet instead of taking it home with them. Don’t they notice the rubbish when they walk?
Don’t they hate seeing the path lined with plastic, they way I do? Never mind ugly and selfish, isn’t it downright stupid to litter the path that you then walk on every morning? Or is this just yet more proof that I am still out of sync here, even after all these years? Anyway, just as moaning about the weather won’t change a thing, I have realised that moaning about the rubbish strewn all over the place will also not change a thing.
So I pick it up.
I am not yet undertaking full-scale garbage collection, but I do pick up whatever is on my immediate path, and that’s quite enough to appall me, thank you very much. Every day I pile 3 tired muddy dogs into the back of my car along with a stash of the day’s rubbish.
I came to this decision after I realised that every day I was spoiling my own mood by cribbing and moaning about the rubbish, and that the loser in all that was me. It was a sort of put up or shut up realisation. Why start the day by complaining?
Do you know that traditional and very beautiful Celtic blessing? “May the road rise up to meet you. May the wind be always at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face, the rains fall soft upon your fields…”
And, with my own quietly muttered personal addition, may the rubbish not get chucked…