Every time I enter a dump yard or any place near it, I always end up having the same feeling- why would anyone want to live near a pile of dump?
Most of the dump yard let out a strong stink and are not at all maintained. Heaps and heaps of garbage is dumped every day and it becomes a stinky, unhygienic hill. Unlike the hills which are soothing to the eyes and mind and the ones we crave to have as a view, these hills pose as the exact opposite.
A feather to the dump yards, Perungudi dump yard stands out as an exception. Closing on to the dump yard, inside the cab, I wondered why I couldn’t smell any of the waste. Air conditioned cars are funny like that, they suck the stench in and let you experience the world outside through your senses of smell. But this time, there was none.
I paid the cabbie and like a swimmer, I held my breath stepping out of the car. I was sceptical of course. And nothing!
This was new. A dump yard without a trace of stench! Another thing I was thrown aback by was the size of the hills. These weren’t hills of crap, this dump yard was systematically levelled. Small land eruptions more like it!
I started questioning my map following skills. Had I reached the right place? I checked with the cabbie again and the security guard of the Perungudi dump yard. I was at the right place apparently.
Rustic cheap copper doors were flung open on either sides, welcoming me. Little did I know my journey to the dump yard was short-distanced (if that’s a word).
Excited to reach the right place, I went inside and was stopped by the security guard. Apparently common man is not allowed to enter the dump yard; the guard informed me they had CCTV camera inside. This made no sense to me. What is the worst I could do in a dump yard? Steal their dump and recycle it? But rules had to be followed.
After an hour long negotiation, I decided to give up and take some pictures instead. The guard tried stopping me but since I showed him I’m not breaking his cuckoo rules, nobody could stop me from clicking pictures.
The pictures came out well. The evenly scattered clouds made my job easy.
Loitering around the streets, drinking coconut water, I spoke to the vendors and people having the water. Broken English and a mix of English and Hindi came to rescue.
I sat on a rock quenching my thirst wondering where to go next. I went on walking and reached residential areas. Now another problem arose- male students. Most of the houses were PG accommodations for college students. Ringing the bell of the first few houses made me realize this isn’t a good idea. None of the boys would come down to talk but rather insisted on my coming up and speaking about my “report”.
Giving up on this idea, I walked further in and found a school. Now this gave me hope. Their parents had to live somewhere close by and it was almost time for them to go home.
Walking here and there, passing my time, I waited for the school to get over. The school bell rang and children came rushing out looking for their parents.
I jumped to the opportunity and requested the parents if they could answer some questions for my project. Thankfully they didn’t mind. But the unfortunate part was, most of them didn’t stay long to talk since they were eager to return home with their children and feed them lunch. Although the general idea I received was they didn’t have much problem with the dump yard.
This general perception did not go down well with my journalistic needs. I didn’t have quotes, I received more of gestures than answers. It seemed slightly disappointing, until I realized it doesn’t have to be a sad story all the time. Why not cover the good part?
I was anyways denied entry to the dump yard, not knowing how they manage the dump and how good or bad it is in the interiors of the dump yard. I might as well pen down the mixed reactions of people, which is exactly what I did by the end.
After a long day in the sun, I decided to go to the Greater Chennai Corporation, Adyar. My faculty was right- all they did was waste my time and make me wait for 2 hours. After waiting this long they asked me to visit the Ripon building to get some data.
Enough was enough! I picked up my bag and headed back to college. While returning I wondered, if government officials behaved the same with journalists with a press card? If yes, then this is even sadder.