Slush and lots of spit!!!

Mumbai today witnessed its first proper monsoon shower (first thing in the morning). With it my nightmare became a reality. It is not the rains I detest, it’s the post- rain slush…. And for some strange reason, people tend to salivate more during the monsoons!!! If Pavlov was alive, I’m sure he would’ve loved to research this phenomenon. They salivate so much that the system (I mean our body here) is unable to contain the liquid thus has this urgent need to expel the fluid. Hence, this biological need propels the person to unconsciously involve in a rather reflexive behavior which we have termed as spitting. Since it is so strangely connected with the monsoon rains, this behavior becomes more like a compulsion when the human being comes in contact with the rain water.     


It is worse for those who don’t suffer from this condition because they for one thing, cannot join in the fun. They are left out of the fraternity with very little social support. And there is only so much spit one can evade while walking among the freshly formed slush and the unconscious-biological-reflex!!! No matter how much sense of humor or sarcasm you possess, at that very moment when you see the man walking in front of you pull out the phlegm from his lungs and gets ready to spit (did I mention that it is an unconscious biological behavior???), you are made to feel helpless and naked. Not just to feel naked but further as if the fraternity expects you to roll on the preparation laid out on the slush as a punishment for being free of that condition.


And then there are the auto rickshaw drivers- the spit factories of the nation! Once I sat in a rickshaw to travel a distance of say 7-8 kilometers. Within the period of 25 minutes, he spat out (God knows what) 30 times!!! (The jobless and observant person I am, I was determined to count the number of times this involuntary behavior occurred).That is more than once a minute…. He was a man of small stature; my guess is that he had shrunk himself by constantly spitting. He must be in the chronic stages of the condition. So what does he do when he is sleeping at night? Well you are not free from it even when you are asleep- because you see it’s a biological and an unconscious behavior. So he tends to spit in his sleep, which because of gravity tends to land right back on his face. The last I heard he almost drowned in his spit and died! But thank fully his wife woke up and alerted him before any damage was done.


One more place I should not forget to mention- the TRAIN STATIONS. Oh, those magical places which transport you to any place you want to reach at a much faster pace than any other mode of transportation! Alas! Even such revered spaces are not spared. When you stand at the ticket counter and God forbid you are cursed to stand in the last counter, you better mind your things. Keep your dupatta in place, your bags from swaying and your hands from moving sideways (even if you’re going to slip and fall). We have spit stains as big as termite mounts on all the four corners!!! Our BMC has built neatly tiled ticket counters at train stations but they are all painted red with pan stains. My composure fails me here and I am either moved to tears or to barf.


I have never travelled outside of India to infer whether this condition is specific to India or is a Universal phenomenon. Since they do not appear in the Diagnostic Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders or in the list of bodily illness put forth by the Western world of medicine and psychology which is followed by the entire world with utmost reverence, perhaps it is quite unique to our Indian subcontinent. However, now that our population is growing exponentially and we are spreading our wings to find newer pastures, it is time that the world of medicine and psychology look into this unconscious- biological- reflex behavior before we paint other towns and top the slush with a glazed coating during the rainy season. After all, we don’t want the whole world playing hopscotch in the rains.


PS: I am, just like everyone else, a normal selfish human being. Though I might not personally stand up and fight for a spit free world, I wish someday I could walk on a spit-free kerb (even during the monsoons). Though it’s a distant dream and I might never really see it happen in my life time, I look at the bright side of this misery that I get to be a kid even as an adult and play hopscotch on my way to work! And it has its health benefits too; you need to keep your eye sight sharp if you have to escape the spit topping. I’m signing off now, have to get back home (sigh…). 


Published in: on June 25, 2008 at 10:41 AM  Comments (5)  

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5 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Whoa, you captured the emotions of hundreds if not thousands of us who hate monsoons for the same reasons as you do… good post and yes, I do hope some day we have clean public places free of paan spit, phlegm, nose-goo and other wastes dug up from God knows where and specially reserved for public spaces…

    And hey all the best with the monsoons 🙂

  2. Thanks, I’ll need it… And I recently found out that a particular kind of worm from the rain slush can enter into your stomach through the toe nails!!! So its better to avoid walking in water as much as possible. Another addition to our monsoon woes 😦

  3. i liked the part where the auto driver drowned in his own spit….:-)

  4. Goood one….

  5. 🙂 well put…now i am even more aware of the red pan “paint”!!!!

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