Paan – Can this be fixed?

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Not so early morning. 7AM. DTC bus RL77. As the bus roared it’s engine, the man in front of me spat one long red pichkari leaving fresh deep red blood marks on the white foot walk that looked recently painted. I felt too lazy and confused to do or say anything. I hadn’t even brushed my teeth. Didn’t feel comfortable talking. The suddenness and profoundness of the sharp pichkari also left me thoughtless and speechless. So I collected myself and took admiring looks at the landmarks of central Delhi.  Two traffic signals later, came another pichkari. This time it wasn’t a long jump. The projectile of this one was more of a high jump and didn’t make it to the already dirty footpath but settled only a few inches away from the bus and few droplets on his face too. Might be an occasional slip because he otherwise appeared experienced.

Now the hideousness of this red rain was grossing me out. But apart from demotivating factors stated earlier, this time I also feared that if I speak to him then I too would get a slice of the red shower on me. I ignored once again.

But when the bus hit a speed breaker, the rain man lost some stability and poured down entire tsunami of redness in a consecutive series of 2-3 intense pichakris.

I had to do something now. In these early hours of the morning, I didn’t want to spoil his mood or mine. I didn’t want to lecture or preach. I wanted to just understand what I could do for him to stop doing what he did. What could be an alternative to pichkari?

First, to begin, I asked him if the bus went to a place that I already knew it would. He replied in affirmative and added that that place is two stops away. Now post this ice break I felt comfortable to shoot.

“अच्छा यह बताइये, की अगर पान के साथ एक डिब्बी या थूकदान  निःशुल्क दिया जाए थूकने के लिए, तो इस समस्या का हल हो सकता है क्या ?”   {“I want to ask you something. If a small spittoon is given free of cost along with pan, will that solve this problem?”}

“कौनसी समस्या ?” [What problem?]

“ये पान की पिचकारी”  [Pichkari of paan]

“हम्म .. ” [ Hmm ..] He didn’t totally see it coming but didn’t take too long get out of the mild surprise I inflicted on him through my unexpected question. So he replied after a brief pause.

“बंद कर दो”  [ Ban it ]

“हैं?” [what?]

“डिब्बी से कुछ नहीं होगा। डिब्बी के बाद भी मुझे बाहर थूकने में अधिक सुविधा होगी। टहनी को क्यों काटो। पूरे पेड़ को ही काट दो। पान पे बैन लगा दो। ” [ Spittoon won’t help. I won’t find it comfortable to spit in that. And why bother chopping a branch of an infected tree. Bring the entire tree down. ]

It was my turn to be lost in surprise. That too not a mild one.

“हम्म .. ” [ Hmm ..],  I responded.

“पता तो सबको है कि जर्दा सवास्थय के लिए हानिकारक है। तब भी सब करते  हैं न सेवन।” [We all know that Zarda is injurious to health. Still, we consume. It’s not easy to give up. ]

“पर बैन तो शराब भी है गुजरात में, फिर भी बिकती भी है और पीते भी हैं। ” [ But does ban work? Alcohol is banned in Gujarat, still, it is sold and consumed ]

“क्या बिना पुलिस और सरकार के सहयोग के बिना संभव है वो?” [Is that possible without the help of police and government?]

I had no answer.

“बैन करो तो ठीक से करो, सब राज्यों में करो।  सरकार ने गुटखे में जर्दे पर बैन लगाया और कहा की जर्दा खाना है तो अलग से खरीदो। अब जहाँ 1 रुपये में गुटखा जर्दा दोनों मिलते थे अब 5 रुपये का जर्दा अलग से लेना पड़ता है। जहाँ पहले एक पैकेट से पर्यावरण दूषित होता था अब 2 पैकेट  से होता है। और 5 रुपये किसकी जेब में गए ? सेल्स टैक्स सरकार का बढ़ा। ” [ If you ban, ban it properly and across the states. They tried to ban zarda in the paan by declaring that consumers would need to purchase zarda separately in Rupees five sachets. What did that result into? People still buy that zarda. It is rather more expensive now. And the government gets higher sales tax. And earlier environment was polluted by one packet, now we litter two packets ]

He deboarded.

 

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