After a spell of extreme cold, when I resumed my evening walk in mid-January to the neighborhood park, I noticed a pair of gleaming steel dustbins, one for the dry waste and another for wet waste, hanging majestically to a steel frame fixed near the park entrance. Not just one, there were four pairs of new bins in the garden set around its circular walking track.
On one fine evening, I noticed one dustbin missing from the frame at the entrance gate. Within a couple of days, the second bin also disappeared. What remained behind was the shiny steel frame, just the structure proudly displaying the name of Chandigarh Municipal Corporation. While I was still lamenting the loss of the two bins, I discovered yet another trash bin missing from its site. As I continue my walk schedule, I notice more bins making a vanishing trick.
While the new dustbins are disappearing from the landscape, the fate of previously installed trash bins is no better. A few years ago, with a lot of fanfare big sturdy bins of good quality plastic were installed all over the city. Over time the lids of most of the dustbins have disappeared. The ones that still have their lids intact don’t cover the bins, but are hanging perpetually from the hinges in the opposite direction. Dirty bins with overflowing trash present an ugly sight.
To my dismay, I find my evening walk, which is otherwise refreshing and rejuvenating, being marred by my misplaced attention. The moment I step into the park, my attention goes inadvertently to the bins. Lately, I have begun to suffer from the ‘missing tile’ syndrome, (focusing on things missing in our life) or I may say ‘missing dustbin’ syndrome. Instead of focusing on the beauty of the spring bloom, greenery, and huge trees that are the abode of hundreds of parrots in the park, I am getting disturbed by the vanishing trash bins.
I must get rid of my obsession with the dustbins to count my blessings. I must acknowledge how fortunate I am to be staying in Chandigarh where there is not one, but many green open spaces, small and big parks in close proximity to my house. The park where I regularly go for my walk is lined with splendid flowering trees. As the cold winter paves way for balmy spring, the atmosphere turns magical with myriad trees blooming with pink, lilac and red flowers spreading fragrance around. I get to watch flocks of parrots returning every evening to their habitat on the huge trees all along its boundary wall. It is a sheer delight to see majestic peacocks perched on the park’s boundary wall. Also, at times, I have the joy of watching these beautiful birds strutting in the park as they cross over from the adjoining thick foliage cover. Where else can I see so many birds and hear their melodious chorus in the heart of the city?
While I wish dustbins don’t fall prey to theft, I don’t want my own happiness to be robbed by the missing bins. No more misplaced attention, I resolve to focus on the beauty of the park and soak in its natural splendor. With the promise to write pleasant and heartwarming stories of my daily walk, I sign off.
( published in HT Chandigarh as Guest column in Sunday Read on May 7 , 2023 )