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View: How civilisations have been laid waste by a trashy disposal culture

Little has changed down the millennia when it comes to garbage, even as civilisations rose and fell.


Given that garbage is an inevitable component of city life, it is not surprising that it evokes a myriad of emotions among people, not all of them necessarily unpleasant. Some see them as rich resources for the study of the contemporary urban condition, others regard them as liminal metaphors for the marginalised. Some are even inspired to poetry by it, perceiving philosophical depth in trash. For many, though, all of these are a waste—of time.

Opposite our home in Kolkata, a pile of garbage builds up to mountainous proportions silently through the night, as if by magic. Not in or around a designated bin, but in the forecourt of a derelict building at a fork in the road. And every morning, the corporation collectors arrive in motorised carts to take away just a portion of it, almost as if they do not want to hurt the feelings of those who dump waste at the nearest spot rather than a

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