Thursday, November 19, 2009

A Day to Cut the Crap*

Today is World Toilet Day. Yes. There is a World Toilet Day. This was news to me. I think at this rate we need more days in the calendar, cos 365 just isn't cutting it any more. Even with the extra one every four years, it's a bit of a tight fit. There are, of course , the big daddies of the circuit. The internationally recognised ones, celebrated world over. The frontrunners of the field. The Children's Days , the Teacher's Days, the Father's , Mother's Days.

Then there are the others. The World Aids day. Earth day. World Day for Water. World Breast Cancer Day. And finally, crowding and jostling for space in a limited calendar like amateurs at the beginning of a quarter marathon, come the also-rans. Now I don't want to say that these are not worthy causes , because they are. But damn if most of them don't make you go 'Huh?!'. World Day for Safety and Health at Work. World Maths Day. World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development. World Day to Combat Desertification. World Day Against the Death Penalty. The thumb rule, one seems to notice, is that the less awareness the day has, the longer and more complicated the name. I firmly believe that somewhere out there there is a World Day for the Reorganisation and Proper Cataloging of Libraries to Ensure that the Thoughtless Idiots who Borrow Books and then don't Return them out of Sheer Laziness, the Inconsiderate Bastards, are Adequately Punished being rigorously observed by one very pissed off librarian.

And the UN, of course. The august body seems to do little these days other than express dismay, send out ineffectual letters to rogue states expressing further dismay and passing resolutions to observe special days. Most of which are met with shocking indifference by the general world population. As an example of general apathy, let us look at the No Honking Day '''''celebrated''''''' on 7th April. Believe me, the extra quotes are justified.. For a while, it even seemed like it would a minuscule difference. Like a singer with limited ability but a good agent, it got it's share of publicity. There were posters all over town, it was mentioned in the 'cool' teevee channels that the kids like to watch, it managed to get school kids off studies for a day as they went around pestering motorists and handing out fliers about the evils of noise pollution (Which is apparently as bad as jamming a syringe full of cocaine directly into your eye socket, if those fliers are to be believed). Hell, it even got the Big B to promo the hell out of it. By that, I of course mean that he put a sticker on one of his cars. Well the newspapers mentioned the hoopla exactly twice. 'No Honking Day today' screamed the headlines on April 7th. 'No Honking Day a noisy failure' they screamed the next day. Yes, the No Honking Day was the equivalent of an Indian Idol copycat reality show winner. Moderate promotion. No real career. Now go back to your daddy's loft and get a degree.

All right,so I'm being mean. The truth is, that even if these special days manage to shake ONE person out of apathy, it has done a good job. After all, none of these issues are minor issues, and hundreds of thousands of people all over the world who suffer need to have the spotlight shone on them. If it needs a special day with an overly complicated name, so be it. And that brings me back to the topic of our discussion tonight. World Toilet Day. Seriously? Not World Sanitation Day. Not World Right to Hygiene Day. Hell even World Proper Plumbing Day would be less ridiculous. Why would anyone choose a name that is sure to generate snickers from the average man? Why would you they with a name that would guarantee, absolutely guarantee newspaper write-ups with headlines featuring cringe inducing puns like this? This is a serious issue. Many, many people die or are severely affected by debilitating diseases because of poor hygiene standards the world over. So why would you choose a name that is almost pathetic in its eagerness to invite ridicule. What kind of organisation would name its special day, the WORLD TOILET DAY ???

Oh. Ok then.

*See what I mean about horrendous headlines?


Rangan said...

Well...I'm sorry to say this, but I felt this wasn't one of your bests.
Not the language, of course. It was sharp as ever, but the content.
I guess you got a little distracted in the middle. At least, I think the point you tried to make is that a day for a good cause should not be deliberately ridiculously promoted for the sake of cheap publicity, right?
But then, why denounce the effort to declare the day at all?
If a day is declared a "No Honking Day" and it was a noisy failure, we at least have the opportunity to be ashamed, but not irritated because there was a specific day to mark really how careless we are.
You might be sarcastic about the approach or promotion of the days, but declaring a day for a good cause is, I guess...good. I mean, it should not be meant to be a single day, but a beginning.
Yesterday was a declared 'day' in West Bengal too.
"Work culture day".
It said all the government employees should be available in office from 10-5 barring one hour for lunch, starting that day. Naturally, it was a miserable failure. And some employees having an chat session in a pan shop near the office at 4 P.M. gave reasons for this day to be a failure -
"How can I come at 10? I have high blood sugar."
"Let them take care of our PF issues first, then they should worry about things like work culture...."
You get the idea.
i'm not going into any arguements regarding their being right or wrong, responsible or evasive.
But, do you think, the government should be blamed for trying this at all?

Rangan said...

The problem, I think is the perception of these "days".
The day we stop thinking like - "ok, i shall be aware. no horns on no honking day and we can compensate the next day..." i guess the days might really make some difference.