Seeking sal(i)vation… even as the swine arrives

AAA… THOOO… There goes another one. A convoluted missile of saliva flies through the air as I dodge just in the nick of time to avoid it landing on my foot!

There would be no research necessary perhaps to establish that every single square inch of public space in Mumbai has been spat upon at some time or the other. It’s a joint effort that the people of this city collectively take credit for. No mean feat, mind you, considering the expanse of Mumbai… And yet, every morning, on their way to work, study, eat, drink or visit relatives, resolute Mumbaikars are ensuring they have made their contribution to the day’s quota of saliva on the street.

But maybe, just maybe, it’s time to give this noble cause a temporary rest. As the headlines on my morning newspaper announces the first case of swine flu in Mumbai, the unavoidable images of public ‘spitributors’ carrying on their mission to coat the city with saliva returns to haunt me. TB is, of course, just a small price to pay in the larger cause of a city seeking absolute salivation. But somehow, I’d have imagined the threat of swine flu to be a bigger deterrent.

But Mr A chewing paan and colouring the newly whitewashed walls of Bandra station (just-renovated and already beetle-tinged towards the base) knows he doesn’t have the flu, so it’s safe for him to be spitting. Meanwhile Mr B, who’s just come back from America the other day, rolls down his glass and lets out another wet missile… he’s not in quarantine, so he has the right too. Mr C, leaning out of the crowded Borivili-Churchgate local, of course, is a seasoned campaigner; so, even if he’s caught the headlines or is aware of the health hazards, he knows he spits with such precision (and sound, for good measure) that it lands metres away from anyone who might reprimand him for it.

Well, for me, I’m just glad for the temporary respite of a weekend. That means I don’t have to brave any saliva-attack today, neither from the ‘united-we-spit’ activists at VT Station, nor the sweeper running a covert operation at the Perry Cross Bus Stand at Bandra, going about his business on the spot that he’s just swept clean.

So, I stay indoors all morning and afternoon, while there’s invariably spit flying all over the city (Someone somewhere in Mumbai must be spitting right this second!).

The rare cloud cover (it hasn’t rained yet, so there isn’t spit-mixed water flooding the roads or getting into your shoes) finally inspires me to go out for a walk in the evening. And just as I step out, Mr D from the neighbouring building shows solidarity—in one fluid motion, he has stuck his face to the grills of his window and let it fly… ‘Duck!!’ Sigh… just in time again!


Jayeeta Mazumder said...

Awesome! I loved it.... exactly what I feel but couldn't have put it so precisely!

tanmaysekhar said...

Yuuu!! thats a little funny its mumbai meri jaan!!! may change but if you go to a place like lucknow or old cities u'll find these things all over. Yehi hai 'mera bharat mahaan'... really isn't it?

Akrati said...

awesome... :)