There is no shame in using a jharoo

Published: January 15, 2012

The act of cleaning is associated with the lower income class - it is something maids and massis do according to many. PHOTO: APP

It was a dark day when I was caught red handed by my friends, squatting over the floor and sweeping it with a jharoo. Within seconds, the camera phones were out, and their lenses were all aimed at me. The images were injected into the web-ways, and they received a dozen ‘lol’s’ and many more likes in the first 24 hours.

The joke, I imagine, was that some people like to keep their rooms clean. Ha, absolutely hysterical!

This form of immaturity is shared by more than just my small band of burger buddies (yeah, you heard me!). Way too commonly is the act of cleaning associated with the lower income class – something that only our maasis (maids), sweepers and aayas should be doing, but not us!

Perhaps this mindset has been consolidated by the high prevalence of poverty, and the perks of cheap labour that inevitably follow. Such is not the case in developed nations, where most people clean up after themselves.

Customers in a fast-food restaurant in France, for instance, usually toss their waste in the bins themselves, and stack the plastic trays neatly on top. They don’t leave all their chicken bones and empty burger cases behind for the waiter to deal with. Unaccustomed to this outré ritual, but determined to do in Paris what the Parisians do, I started doing the same. Unfortunately, the first time I tried, the whole tray slipped and fell into the bin, creating quite a scene. But I digress.

Ever walked into a home that looks like a set from a post-apocalyptic movie scene?

It’s not because the Jews have finally taken over. It’s because the maasi, God bless her, has not shown up for two days. The solution, for some, does not involve taking out the cleaning products from under the sink, and doing some work themselves (I’d be surprised if a lot of people even know where they keep their own bottles of Detol and Harpic). Their special way of dealing with such a conundrum is to wallow in their own filth for 48 hours, cursing the stupid kaam-wali (maid), without making any effort on their own to stay neat.

Ever eaten at a restaurant, or worse, a wedding (ominous music plays) where the people at the next table look like they’ve been using dynamite sticks to cut their meat? You know something is horribly wrong when there’s more rice scattered over the table than the amount actually consumed. If I make a little effort to eat carefully and wipe the table with my napkin if a bit of food falls on it, does it really make me obsessive-compulsive?

Ever been with a friend who complains consistently about the sad state of our country, and the apathy of our fellow countrymen towards it? While taking a ride in your car, he tosses a can of coke out of the window, along with his own principles, even though we’re five minutes away from home where the can could’ve been properly disposed. Way to be patriotic!

Not only should we be demanding good hygiene, we ought to be making the effort to keep things tidy ourselves. If you see a bunch of empty juice boxes lying in the parking lot, don’t just jump on them and giggle feverishly when they pop loudly. Pick them up and toss them into the nearest bin.

There’s no dishonour in keeping your surroundings clean. The only thing ignominious is living in a filthy environment without even trying to do something about it. Don’t wait for the government, or your countrymen, to come and rescue you every time. Grab a jharoo and help yourself out!


Faraz Talat

Faraz Talat

A medical doctor and bubble-wrap enthusiast from Rawalpindi, who writes mostly about science and social politics (and bubble-wrap). He tweets @FarazTalat (

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Shoaib

    Allright, Your feelings were hurt. We get it.

    Learn to laugh with your friends. Dont take everything to the heart Recommend

  • Masoom si larki

    I experienced the same “Lols n Rofls” when I used “Jharoo” for the first tym in my lyf..Thank you “maasi”..Atleast I enjoyed that day..:PRecommend

  • Someone

    Finally some one who made sense. Is it too hard to digest the fact that “YOU oughta’ clean up YOUR mess?”Recommend

  • your friend

    sorry bro pic deleted :DRecommend

  • Dr. Ali Ahmed

    the shame is there, and will be… instead of her, you should have posted your picture with a “jharo”Recommend

  • Kai

    Well said!! :) Recommend

  • Ovais

    The point of this blog???Recommend

  • Saif

    Bro, seriously, were it the case that u were holding a broom staff or a vacuum cleaner or even a brush, the lols and likes wud have been considerably less and the photo just might not even be on the web.
    The problem is, uve blown this matter out of all proportions. Some people are neat, some are not. However, its got nothing to do with what maasi’s do and people in Europe and America do. Its just the look of the jhaardhoo that was funny.
    And really, watching ur friend standing holding a jhaardhoo wud urge u to giggle.
    Now get over it! Recommend

  • Uzair Sukhera

    Finally we get to read some sensible stuff on ET. These are some great points made by author. Small steps, yet powerful and fully indicative of our contributions to taking our nation forward instead of mulling over the sad state of affairs in drawing room politics.Recommend

  • murtaza

    agree ……it is a disgrace to work with your own hands ….this poor country has a lot of attitude .Recommend

  • Mustafa Moiz

    Your friends took a picture of you cleaning, and you wrote an article about it? Someone’s no fun.Recommend

  • Mariam

    I m an eal childhood educator in Canada and I worked with toddlers a while ago. After lunch and snack they would broom under their chair and table. As we had couple of brooms and dustpans they would always fight over it. So I had to buy for each one of them.
    And now I am working with schoolage children and hey clean up after themselves and take turns sweeping the classroom.
    These things are learnt from childhood and these trainings are given at home. But we were never taught all this but to make fun of and belittle those who likes cleanliness. Recommend

  • Ali

    Nothing….just to be diff. Faraz has been posting such articles and ET entertains it. Recommend

  • ALI

    Excellent Article. ET needs to publish of more of social improvement and not social critic where in lies person with sever form of self identity disorderRecommend

  • M.A.S

    funny indeed…………i never knew that people would laugh off if one is cleaning his/her own house or the streets…………and even funnier to read when buddies posted the pictures on the facebook……….this is the height of mentally immature society who this that they are superior to others in every case and doing things that have been part of the tradition is something out of this world. Grow up society! Recommend

  • powerball

    Some of you have missed the point of this article all together.. and I think those of you are the ones the author is talking about.. It’s not about a pic of him with a jharoo.. the point is CLEAN UP AFTER YOURSELVES.. nothing is wrong with it!!
    I have student friends here that came from Pakistan.. and they think it’s below them to clean. They don’t pick up after themselves cuz ‘it’s not their job’.. We’re too good to pick up our plate when we’re done eating..Please!
    I know exactly what the author is saying and I 100% agree! As he said ‘Grap a Jharoo and help yourself out!’ and the rest of us too!Recommend

  • Duaa K

    Thankyou for writing this. I especially relate to the part where the “patriotic” friend / family member convieniently tosses the garbage out the car window instead of disposing it properly. Its really all about manners and being able to do your own work. This “maasi” / “sweeper” culture has really made us lazy.Recommend


    This is what ” DIGNITY OF LABOUR ” is ……..continue doing it…..Recommend

  • TMohsin

    A very nice article indeed. When we are here in our country we consider it a sin to do such small acts which can eventually bring about a big change to our society if every individual does them. But when we, the same Pakistanis, go abroad, we start following all their rules and try to be disciplined and not even for once consider it as a shameful thing.
    We should all remember that “Cleanliness is next to Godliness”. I have even seen girls who keep their surroundings very dirty and believe me, it tells what kind of homes they will keep in future.Recommend

  • insight

    @Dr. Ali Ahmed:
    well said Recommend

  • Parvez

    Those males or females who think there is shame attached to this act, seriously need to ask themselves some difficult questions on self confidence and hypocrisy. Recommend

  • Harry Potter

    I am ashamed to use a jharoo. But a gangsta’s gotta fly yo. Recommend

  • MorningGlory

    “Customers in a fast-food restaurant in France, for instance, usually toss their waste in the bins themselves, and stack the plastic trays neatly on top.”

    Why do you say in “France”?

    Ever been to Subway? to quote one of the many examples I have. You always do the same. Would have been better if you gave the example of some place in your own country.
    I belong to the corporate sector, and in my office we ALWAYS pick up trays after lunch and dump all the things at their right places. It just a matter of practicing.Recommend

  • Faraz Talat


    The writers don’t choose the images. The editors do.

    Still I think it’s a good one, as it’s the first picture that pops into most of our heads when people talk about jharoo/pocha.Recommend

  • Nizamani

    Just because the person wrote the article doesn’t mean. He was annoyed. Just that, that one moment gave him an idea of how our society frowns upon those who actually are in control of their lives. I cook 3 times a day for me and my brother as I’m a student and living away from parents and people in my class actually make fun of it. But I proud to cook, clean, wash the bathroom and be in charge of the house as this has made me independent and most of you out there are just too weak to exist on their own.
    By you I meant the people in my class and not the commentors. So take Tgis article as an example and take care of yourself.
    PS: Affording a maid isn’t a problem with me Alhamdulillah but why wait for someone else to clean up your mess when you can do it yourselves? Think about it.Recommend

  • Humanity

    “CLEANLINESS is next to godliness, they say. Pakistan being a country where there is no shortage of the latter, are we clean as well?”

    The Holy Prophet (SAW) used to clean up after himself. Those who call themselves Muslims should be proud to follow in his footsteps.Recommend

  • techno

    supporting your views, there arent many dustbins out thereRecommend

  • Noor

    Yes, no problem!

    my friend’s mother, a Lt Col Doctor in Army used to clean her 2 kanal house in Islamabad by herself before even waking up of her husband & kids in the morning.

    Still she could give breakfast to the family & join her office at Rawalpindi by 0730am.Recommend

  • Aakasa

    This piece of writing is alike a prodigy!
    I enjoyed it. Keep up. Waiting for your blogs now.Recommend

  • Rida

    Okayyyy…I’ll pick em up and throw em away AFTER I’ve popped them. >_<
    Great read..Totally agreed! Glad my mother has raised me well at least.Recommend

  • happy go lucky