Camera, camaraderie, cleanliness: Gurugram cleaning marathon, a lot more than just cleanliness drive
All the workers knew they were attempting to be a part of Asia and India books of records for the longest cleanliness marathon, but most dominantly, they were happy to be at the centre of attention.Updated: Mar 14, 2019 16:52 IST
The Municipal Corporation of Gurugram’s (MCG) 168-hour cleaning marathon, which started on February 24 and went on till March 4, was everything one would expect it to be — brooms, trucks, men and women with masks, and patches of roads being cleaned. But the drive was a lot more than that, as I discovered while reporting about it.
The drive was in its sixth day and on its 25th route from Sector 56 to Cyber Park, when I caught up with the workers. One of them came up to me with a grin and said, “Fotu nahi loge, madam?(Won’t you take my picture, madam).” His name was S K Siraj, and his question was earnest. Within seconds, an excited group of men and women gathered behind him and removed their face masks for the photo.
While I clicked their pictures on my phone, the smiles grew wider and the poses more professional. They had been cleaning for two hours in the warm afternoon sun through blocked drains, garbage-strewn roads and open spaces with dust flying around them. I asked one of the women if they were feeling fine. Her name was Kavita Devi. Devi and the women around her giggled and said, “This is not tiring. This is fun. This morning, all of us came together in a truck to the starting spot from Bandhwari.”
Another woman named Munesh joined in, “Sab saath mein hain, sab saath mein saaf kar rahe hain (We are all in this together. We are all doing the job together).” Before I could react to this statement, a young man from the group called Rakesh Jindara reminded me of what I was doing just before the conversation had started, “Are, foto toh le nahi rahe ho aap?(Why aren’t you clicking our photos?)”
Impressed and tickled at his sincerity, I asked him to pose, and he willingly struck a handsome pose with his broom, smiling away for my phone camera. Clearly his colleagues were impressed by his theatrics as well, and started applauding him. There was joy and merriment in the air, there were candid conversations and genuine friendships, all in that moment , but there was also work being done.
What stayed with me, however, amid that profusion of emotions, was the contentment that was so palpable. All the workers knew they were attempting to be a part of Asia and India books of records for the longest cleanliness marathon, but most dominantly, they were happy to be at the centre of attention.
More than five minutes were up and the break was over. It was time for them to put on their masks and get back to cleaning. They returned to it with equal gusto. Dust, pollution, garbage and heat could not take a toll on their spirits. Clearly, camaraderie, camera and cleanliness were the show stealers here.
(Kankana Roy Jain is a reporter with the Gurugram bureau who covers culture, art and lifestyle)