By Pransu Raj Kaushik
A few years back I had read a newspaper column by Mukul Kesavan and if I remember correctly, it was quite aptly titled- ‘The Ugly Indian Man’. It was an honest and piercing account of why an Indian man is an epitome of ugliness- both habitually and compulsively. It was an engrossing and honest piece nonetheless. But, what I would like to add in this context is that ugliness was specifically attributed to the Indian male populace, but, I would go a step further and say that ugliness, intrusiveness, pokiness et all are habits associated with the general Indian psyche regardless of the gender difference.
There is a poignt and ‘yucky’ scene from the movie Three Idiots, where in a piece of chapatti they find a strand of a person’s hair! Quite repulsive, but it is a rather normal happening in many of our kitchens as well. We are a tion where cleanliness has to be discussed and preached from the highest podium- the Red Fort, and a military like mission has to be started in the form of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan with a whopping budgetary allocation to the tune of Rs 1,700 crore! We are a tion which takes pride in our ‘great historical past’ and yet, still continue to defecate in the open and use dry latrines. Have we ever bothered to pay attention to the amount of odour that is prevalent in our surroundings, leaving aside the stink that is bodily emated? Maybe in the Hedonic scale, which is a scale to measure and rate odour, we would be rated quite extremely on the negative side.
Another trait of ours is the way we scratch, prick and shout in the open- maybe we are stretching free expression and speech too far and democratizing our habits as well! No hesitation whatsoever, is there when we scratch in ‘pubic zones’ of our bodies, blowing and picking our noses and shouting at the top of our voices while having a discussion in public. Added to all these is the open competition in spitting the paan and gutkha juices, ridding the extra lime anywhere and everywhere that we can rub our fingers on, and throwing and scattering waste. Readers might take me to be a freak when I say this, but have you ever watched closely the clothes left out to dry in the open, especially the inner garments? I can vouch that most of those are stained, with loose elastic and have holes in undesirable places. We never let go our inner garments till they are haggard beyond limits and even after that we loath to throw them away, we use them as scrubbing material to clean our floors, furniture, vehicles and in some cases even wipe the utensils! Revolting isn’t it? But true nonetheless!
We Indians are known to possess lovely and expressive eyes, but, even those beautiful gifts of ture are used for rather ‘unbeautiful’ actions- staring at strangers, poking at purses and cell phones of others in public places like transport and markets, gesturing suggestively, winking etc. How many times have you, rather absentmindedly, tried to look at the cell phone of another person sitting next to you in a plane, train or wherever? Or in reverse, being stared at?
While a simple act like using a hankerchief while sneezing or coughing is a rarity, leave aside taking care not to make disgusting sounds while yawning and even avoid burping and farting in public. Most of us do so unhesitatingly, quite unmindful of who is next to us or where we are. No matter how fast we move up the development lane in the economic genre, until we keep pace in a parallel manner with persol and social development as well, we can never really change or claim to have achieved change in living standards. Lifestyle change not only signifies wearing branded accessories and apparels, but about how we conduct ourselves accordingly, like maintaining a good persol and social hygiene. The habit of wearing ‘stained’ inner garments should be done away with, in a lighter vein. In this regard, the members of the fairer sex cannot claim discrimition- at least they are on an equal footing with the men-folk in following the absurdity of habits that I have mentioned above. They take no qualms in purchasing jewellery or fashioble outfits at exorbitant rates, but, bargain while purchasing sanitary pkins and quality toiletries. The mirror has been placed in front of us- we need to alyze our reflected image and beyond. It is about time we do that.