Saturday, 4 February 2017

Will you Ever Eat Gol-gappe ??

There was this news item on April 14 on TV that a pani-puri wala was adding his 'water' from his tumbler (lota) to gol-gappa pani (maybe shortage of mineral water !....nearest substitute!!) This is the ultimate example of throwing even the basic sense of hygiene out of the window. The  man was caught by a spy camera and MNS activists in Bombay and Thane vandalised the properties of the poor migrants from UP and Bihar. But this was a stray case caught on camera and TV channels flashed it . The harsh truth is: We've no sense of hygiene and cleanliness. Readers may recollect that there used to be a government ad on Doordarshan until a few years back: Kya aapne shauch ke pashchat  haath dhoye? (Have you washed your hands after visiting the toilet / restroom ?). That government has to educate people on the fundamentals of cleanliness is a sad commentary on the overall state of hygiene among the Indians. There're certain things that cannot be taught or inculcated.

An individual has to learn those basics as he grows up. Peep into the kitchen of any hotel or restaurant anywhere in India and your reaction will be, yuck!! Even star hotels in India don't maintain the highest standards of hygiene and the bottled water is often stale. I've seen cockroach in the food served by a private airlines and a year back, Rajdhani Express (Delhi-Calcutta) served maggot-infested food to its passengers. It was the general perception of international fliers that the meals served on Air India flights were often below-par and at times, even putrid (cooked in rancid oil) !!

 The instances of finding strands of hair in food are so common that people no longer make an issue of it. They nonchalantly take out the hair and eat. Why do we never care for cleanliness? Go to any European country and eat at any random eatery, rest assured, you'll get scrupulously clean food. I remember, I ate at a small outlet on the outskirts of Budapest (Hungary) pretty late at night. But the food that was served was not just fresh but clean on all counts. Even in Iran, Iraq and West Asian countries, I witnessed cleanliness religiously followed by all and sundry. When British travel writer Trevor Fishlock visited India a couple of years back, he was appalled to see children defecate and near those defecating children hawkers were selling eatables! And people were eating. "Nowhere have I seen the juxtaposition of this sort, what I saw in Indian cities!" he wrote in his diary. This is indeed pathetic, nay shameful.

There should be a collective sense of hygiene and cleanliness and this must be a national attitude and character. Alas, this seems to be alien to our consciousness. We talk big but tend to ignore the very basics that make life not just easy but acceptable to others.

---Sumit Paul


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