Wednesday, August 25, 2010

White Lies

By Rupa Gulab
(Published in Bengal Post, 24th August 2010)

I’m really superbugged about the superbug The Lancet is going to town (or rather, the universe) about. That a nasty superbug may have originated in India is one thing – it’s a dead serious allegation and must be investigated as soon as possible. Naming it after New Delhi, however, is discriminatory. A sneaky and spiteful way of putting us down, isn’t it? Personally, I don’t care if patients from the western world stop coming to India for high quality (and relatively cheaper) medical treatment – it’s more their loss than ours. What makes my blood boil is the public slur that has been cast on India as a bug-infested nation - by one of the world’s most respected medical journals at that! I don’t have one racist bone in my body, but I’ve just had it with this ‘white is supremely right’ nonsense. Hello, we can be as finicky about their germs as they are about ours - fair’s fair, right?
So here’s a helpful little travel advisory for Indians who holiday in the west. And, might I add (in a dignified and mature manner) so there!

1. Do not use community washing machines or hotel laundry services: Keep in mind that you’ll temporarily be living with people who use flimsy toilet paper, not good old hygienic soap and water. That, erm, streaky underwear lands up in washing machines – get the picture? There is a good reason why very few Indians have affairs with whites – and honestly it has very little to do with race or religion! If this doesn’t demystify sexy Hollywood actors, nothing will. Anyway, do personally wash your clothes by hand if you travel west.

2. Do not dip even your little toe into swimming pools for one second: Perish the thought. Desist even if it’s boiling hot and the swimming pool looks very inviting. Remember two formidable little words: toilet paper.

3. Avoid physical contact with natives of western countries: Rumour has it that they bathe as many times in a week as we do every single day, particularly during winter. Sure, perfumes mask odours - but do they kill germs? If you must shake hands, do make liberal use of a hand sanitizer (as discreetly as possible, of course – we must be polite). Better still, execute the traditional germ-free Namaste.

4. Carry several family-size packs of antiseptic liquid: Sure you may have to hand out fistfuls of money for excess baggage but trust me, it’s worth it. Suppose, just suppose, your hotel doesn’t have a shower? Do scrub the bathtub down with gallons of antiseptic liquid. And if you’re feeling lazy, remember four shudder-inducing words: ‘toilet paper’ and ‘infrequent baths’.

5. Watch what you eat: Supermarket shelves in the west are packed with heat and eat convenience foods. These contain vast quantities of preservatives. Do you really want to ingest nasty chemicals that could do horrible, terrible things to your body? Heck, you may as well do your grocery shopping at a taxidermist’s.

6. Order your food wisely: When we cook meat in India, we cook it thoroughly and add a pinch of turmeric because of its super antiseptic properties. People in the west, however, appear to prefer undercooked meat. Even well done steaks are not as well done as they are in India. Stick a fork into a rare steak and chances are all that blood may make you feel squeamish and faint. If you can deal with it, why not just take a bite out of a live animal’s juicy rear instead and order sauce on the side?

7. Take all the tips I mentioned above with a generous pinch of salt: I’m just angry and I needed to let off steam, okay? Mainly because of the unfairness of it all. There is a mathematical explanation for the hysteria being generated in the west: a bypass surgery in India costs about $8000 while in the west it’s approximately $30,000. Now do you understand why droves of intelligent (and clearly there are many) western patients flock to India leaving lots of over paid, under-skilled speciality doctors in the UK with nothing to do but invent new germs when they’re bored of hanging out on Facebook? The doctors/researchers who named the superbug after New Delhi must be made aware of the fact that people who live in glass houses (even white people, darlings) shouldn’t throw stones!

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