On most days, it is hard to catch the scent of the jasmine flowers that Krishnaveni sells near the Thiruvanmiyur bus stop. The overwhelming stench of urine wafting off the compound wall of the Metropolitan Transport Corporation (MTC) bus terminus at Thiruvanmiyur hits one’s senses.
But on Sunday, in a matter of four hours, the place was transformed dramatically, thanks to the efforts of a group of 25 volunteers that cleaned and painted the area, and left it literally unidentifiable from before.
The volunteers are part of a citizen initiative, The Ugly Indian, which has taken on the task of “saving us from ourselves”. Often signing up volunteers through notifications on social networks, it has been transforming civic eyesores into eye candy through what it terms as ‘spot fixes’. The spot fix at the Thiruvanmiyur bus terminus as well as another spot near East Coast Road was The Ugly Indian’s Chennai debut.
At Thiruvanmiyur, the volunteers removed garbage, and painted one side of the compound wall, the kerb stones, lamp post and even the garbage bin.
K. Natarajan of Palavakkam, who takes a bus to Nungambakkam every day from the terminus, welcomed the changes but pointed out that, for the results to last, the government would have to address the need for a public toilet in the location.
Working over the past three years, the group has a lot of spot fixes to its credit in Bangalore, and many ‘before and after’ photos of its projects have gone viral on Twitter and Facebook. The first spot fix in Chennai was celebrated by the group on their Facebook page (www.facebook.com/theugl.yindian) and the photos had been ‘liked’ by nearly 1,000 users by around 9 p.m. on Sunday. However, despite all the positive work, the group members prefer to remain anonymous.
Krishnaveni hopes the efforts of the volunteers are appreciated by the public. “If we tell people not to urinate on the wall, they ask us to mind our own business. There is a temple nearby; people don’t even think of that. But now that it looks so clean, let us hope it remains that way,” she said.