– Johnathan Daniel Luther

Imagine this…you’re traveling in the bus and the person sitting in the seat ahead of you opens the window and hacks back his throat, arches his neck and launches a spit missile right out the window! The bus ofcourse is traveling at its usual break neck pace and the aero-dynamics of wind and speed divert part of the glutinous missile back right through your window!!

I apologize, for the disgusting and appalling first paragraph. But it is a fact of physics and our society that makes this an everyday commonplace event for all of us. One can conjure up a thousand and one images of the violent war, Indian men wage with the footpath, the road and the walls, (read public space). Be it a long red paan streaked napalm like fountain or a glob of discolored goo.

The sense of public hygiene and decorum is so minimalist it would almost make the Spartans proud. (although Sparta’s minimalism gave it a place in everyone’s history books and an entry into the English vocabulary that even Athens did not achieve)

It is a common grievance that for men – the world is a public urinal, which is a very degenerative label to those of us men who value the right to basic cleanliness. What leads to this very epic scale battle between spit culture and public hygiene, between men and the footpath, I can’t quite fathom. Little kids barely able to walk straight seem to have caught on to this habit of finding manly expression in deflagrating the sidewalk. Adult males don’t have any qualms in carrying on their war with the battle cry of a “qwack-thooâ€?! And to my utter horror, I have also observed women joining in passionately, in this grand war.

China too has a large, wide and celebrated spit culture, however, the government decided it has to be curbed and imposed fines on Chinese spitters in preparation for the Beijing Olympics of 2008. In the bargain Chinese authorities made a fine fortune (pun intended) to add to their infra-structure in time for the Olympics.

Delhi we all know is to host the 2010 Commonwealth games; to borrow from our trans-Himalayan neighbors doesn’t seem a bad idea at all. However, coming back to the analogy of India’s spit culture. Where does it all begin? There is a faint recollection of old Bollywood movies where the kings and emperors eat paan and have a golden bowl to spit it into that is carried by a servant. Then there is once again the bollywood villain/ ‘lafanga’ who is always chewing a paan and then spits it onto the road for dramatic effect before coming out with his clichéd lines.

I would not solely blame bollywood, but it has promoted certain stereotypes that the lack of education in India has perpetuated and maybe misinterpreted. For example why do the villain and his cronies wear crosses in most Indian films? Or why is the heroine always “fair and lovely�? No doubt the Indian Film Industry has its share of masterpieces. Yet it also drags along with it the dregs of the society. Responsibility lies within the purview of every individual. Responsibility not only to one’s self, but to society, to the city, to the nation. A responsible mass media is the voice of a responsible nation!

Lastly to those great warriors, it would really be nice to find an answer to one very pressing question that presents itself whenever I am unwillingly, lets just say, made a “War Correspondent”.

The question being…how is it that Mother India is a receptacle for your discharges? And why would you still insist on calling her mother if you must subject her to the same? Doesn’t it strike a discord some where in every spitters head?