The Saltlist

Satire in the Age of Letters and Technology- more than just a pinch of it.

Vamos a jamear?* – maybe not!

*Let’s take a meal?

By: Sumedha Bharpilania
The Spanish may be riding high on the the double victory in football, but Senors you are accused of committing a dreadful crime, the land of Flamenco and Bullfighting is currently responsible for poisoning the food of several Europeans. The Spanish cities of Malaga and Almeira are suspected to have been spreading the deadly bacteria known as Escherichia Coli or E. Coli in vegetables such as cucumbers and tomatoes. With more than fourteen people dying in Germany and the deaths traveling across the continent at lightning speed, the World Health Organization has termed the contamination as ”very large and very severe”.
Countries like France, Belgium, Netherlands, Denmark and Austria have banned the imports of vegetable products from Spain and now Germany. Spain ,however, has been denying the accusations and refusing to hold itself responsible for disseminating the germ which causes bloody diarrhea, severe cramps and renal failure and often culminates in death. Last heard, hospitals have been put on E-coli alert and all that people can do is hope for the outbreak to be contained as soon as possible.

If we look at the larger picture, the visuals seem somewhat amusing. The sudden scourge, that has been a cause of alarm for the Westerners is something very common for countries like India. We have tonnes of virus and bacteria outbreaks on a regular basis and they are no anomalies for the country. Diseases like Dengue, Chikungunya, Cholera, Encephalitis, Meningococcal infections etc. are no big issue, as the government and its people have to deal with such cases very often. Numerous health related travel advisories have been issued by most countries for India and it seriously has never been a matter of shock for the citizens. Several people die, several people cry and lament their loss while most thank God for helping in bringing down the humongous population.
As far as the food is concerned, one cannot count the number of times she or he has heard of cases of food-poisoning all over the country. The scrumptious variety of food on display on the streets- a colorful and inviting array which tastes like heaven and tingles your senses by virtue of its ‘fragrance’- is laden with exotic species of bacteria and viruses and is served with hands covered in sweat ,dust, snot and what not. Despite these facts, the ‘aam’ Indian devours this food with utmost relish and satisfaction without ever batting an eyelid. The constant usage of pesticides and fertilizers by farmers, in order to have a better yield to feed the teeming population leaves people with infected fruits and vegetables which are consumed out of sheer helplessness and the resultant maladies are usually ignored. The few ‘organic’ food stores all across Indian metropolises generally run into deep losses as few Indians would like to pay a hundred extra bucks for a kilo of carrots which look like carrots sold by the nearest ‘sabziwala’ or maybe the ‘Reliance Fresh Store’.

Several European towns have water which can be consumed straight from the tap without having to be filtered. In India, water is abundant in germs despite being double filtered and purified and reverse osmosised and all else. Countless number of people die because of the consumption of polluted water and no one really cares. The situation is very much the same if one considers the underdeveloped/ developing countries of Africa, South America and other parts of Asia. It is not that the people of these countries are not aware; awareness can be put to action only when one has means and the affluence to do so. With the fast growing GDP of countries like India and China, the citizens can hope to reach a level where they can make a fuss about contaminated fruits and vegetables, but for that, the world has to wait. As for now, we have to sit back and watch how the all-powerful Whites fight a battle with a dreaded army known as E-Coli, and how, after a lot of sweat and bloodshed, they emerge victorious (which they will).
(Disclaimer: The word whites was used to emphasize the division of the world and not to hurt any personal sentiments.)
So E-coli or No coli, be careful of what goes into your mouth- while you can 😉

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2 comments on “Vamos a jamear?* – maybe not!

  1. Varsha Poddar
    June 3, 2011

    And this is so well written and so true! Westerners have to ‘prepare’ themselves before they come to India just like we prepare ourselves before heading West. While we prepare lists of what to visit, how to dress, what to buy, they get busy ticking off a list of painful vaccinations! 😀

  2. Sumedha Bharpilania
    June 3, 2011

    Thank you for your feedback Varsha. Appreciate it. Yes it was basically an attempt to highlight the paranoia that pervades the quintessential Westerner when it comes to health and the causal way in which it is perceived in India. 🙂

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This entry was posted on June 2, 2011 by in Democracy, Governance and Human Interest and tagged .

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