By Zara Maqbool Last weekend I attended the Coke Festival in Islamabad. We had taken a food stall there so I ended up going three days in a row. I would be unfair if I say that it was not super organized whether it was the security arrangement, tickets counter, the food stalls and very...
By Zara Maqbool
Last weekend I attended the Coke Festival in Islamabad. We had taken a food stall there so I ended up going three days in a row. I would be unfair if I say that it was not super organized whether it was the security arrangement, tickets counter, the food stalls and very nice live music. It was a beautifully done up event and hats off to Coke for arranging it. On the second day winters being winters and having drunk lots of water I had to attend the call of nature in spite of my fear when it comes to using public bathrooms. I also mustered up my courage thinking an event of this magnitude would have this area nicely covered too.
Well surprise! What was I thinking? There were only two bathrooms made for the ladies next to a lake and hoards of women waiting for their turn. By the time my turn came I only had to open the door to literally feel the bile coming up. The flush was filled with water and there were tissues all over the floor with a broken soap floating on the floor. Naturally I didn’t use the bathroom and ended up leaving the event sooner than later. On my way out I ran into the organizer and highlighted my concern after complimenting him on the well-organized festival and to my dismay he shrugged off the query saying, “ aisa to hota hai itne bare event mein.”
So I have a few questions in response to this. Firstly why would there be just two bathrooms for an event that has thousands of people attending? Secondly instead of putting a miserly soap why couldn’t there have been a soap dispenser? Most importantly one dustbin makes all the difference between tissues lying on the floor and in the trashcan. And lastly appointing a cleaning lady for three days could have made all the difference.
Because like it or not even attending an event with a ‘great crowd’ that everyone was raving about, the toilet was worse than a railway station ka bathroom and so maybe it’s time we stop calling a bunch of well-dressed educated people a great crowd because when it comes to cleanliness and basic etiquette’s, it takes more than a few Prada bags and fluent English speaking skills.
If the organizer of such a huge event can casually toss away an important feedback it clearly shows where our priorities lies. The other day I was watching Toilet: Aik Prem Katha, an Akshay Kumar movie where he works towards making a toilet for his lady love as she didn’t like going to the fields. My frustration at heading back home earlier than I wanted to because there wasn’t a clean bathroom available reminded me of the frustration that the leading actress in the movie was expressing. It also made me feel ashamed of the many times I have looked at men with disdain for relieving themselves on road sides. There are hardly any public bathrooms for people to use other than malls. Otherwise if anyone goes to parks or open shopping areas there would be one or two miserable bathrooms totally neglected and ill kept. Same issue is if you are travelling by GT road. One would rather jump from a high roof than use any of the ones available at petrol stations. Two years back some wise man took the initiative of building very nice bathrooms at regular intervals at motorway between Lahore and Islamabad and maybe ahead also. They charge Rs 50 for one time use and the bathrooms are better than ones at 5 star hotels. They are clean and people use them with care too.
As a nation we still have a long way to go when it comes to owning up our city and country fully where if our homes are spotless, we don’t roll the window down to toss away trash on the road. But we also need to be provided with facilities and basic amenities like clean bathrooms; trashcans where we can throw the trash, and learn basic civilities. It takes two to tango at the end of the day!