There’re a lot of things I expected our government to say one day, but ‘Please don’t steal the streetlights’ was certainly not one of them.
Turns out, some enterprising Delhiwallahs have been helping themselves to the fancy streetlights, tiles and plants that have been imported to pretty-up our city before the big Games. Baffled, the Public Works Department has issued a statement saying: ‘We appeal to the people to please not steal these things as these are meant for them and the city.’ Really, guys! I can imagine the temptation of a Rs 2,500 exotic plant, but must you take it off Africa Avenue?
Believe it or not, stealing off the sidewalk and, in some cases, from a neighbour’s doorstep, is not something new to the Capital. In 2008, Mrs Sharma from Mayur Vihar woke up to a blank spot on her front door where a brass idol of Ganesh used to hang. On further investigation, her colony’s caretaker found that wire meshing, covers of water tanks, and the odd hubcap had also been removed.
A 20-year-old boy who lived in the colony had been selling these to a scrap dealer in Mandawali for a neat profit. In fact, petty thieves even consider name plates, doormats and any kind of outdoor decoration item a fair game. Every winter, my colleague Girija puts sweaters on stray dogs that live near her house. But, the sweaters only last about two weeks before someone manages to steal them from the mutts. Imagine her surprise when she saw the same sweaters being sold at a roadside stall near her colony! Someone I know has even lost five earthern water bowls that she used to keep outside with feed for birds.
In a lot of cases, the intention is not purely criminal. Raghav, a friend’s friend, has two curious items on display in his room — plastic orange road dividers that he and a friend tore off at a red light “just for fun”. Rekha, who lives in a ground floor house in West Delhi, once lost a brand new pair of jeans that were drying outside after a wash.
While I’m sure I’d never want to acquire a new pair of jeans like that, I must confess, I am not above picking up one of those painted boulders on national highways — especially if it says ‘Delhi: 100 kms’.