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December 26, 2019

How Freddy’s mercury rose

On the eve of Christmas, I went to the airport to receive my friend Freddy who is here to spend Christmas in Muscat. As we hopped into a cab and were on our way towards the Central Business District in Ruwi, I noticed that he was elated.

“Great city, excellent airport,” he said, “I’m sure, people have a good sense of civic responsibility  and discipline.”

Freddy seemed to be admiring the rows of leafy trees on both sides of Sultan Qaboos Street, the manicured gardens, the low-rise buildings, the orderly flow of traffic and most of all the tranquility that seemed to abound everywhere.

As we alighted at Ruwi, I noticed that the expression on his face had changed. The sight of garbage littered alongside the new dustbins installed by the civic authorities seemed to put him off. I offered an apologetic explanation that some people probably couldn’t get close enough to the bin to use the handle on the lid or the pedal to open it and so simply left their trash bags adjacent to the bin. After all, trash bins stink awfully.

Freddy didn’t seem to buy my argument and also noticed that people had left a lot of other things around, like broken furniture, soiled mattresses and even discarded commodes.

I could sense Freddy’s mercury begin to rise.

“Look at all this,” he said. “You surely don’t have a dump yard in Muscat where people can drive in to discard their junk. So where do you expect people to throw such stuff?”

I retorted, “I’m sure that is on the cards,” though I have no information on the same.

“They should provide one soon, before people convert this part of the city into one,” Freddy said, asserting that every city is the product of the behaviour of its citizens and the prudence of the civic authorities. Both have to play their part for it to be viewed in good light.

I nodded, and offered another assurance that in 2020, we would see a lot of changes for the better.

“Yes, I hope we can provide a few pedals to open the lids off our minds,” he quipped.

 

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