Monday, August 17, 2009
“I am feeling faint, I feel sick, maybe I have swine flu, lol :P” read the status message of a friend just a few minutes ago. While I should commend this friend of mine for being so silly and brave while the whole city runs mad with swine flu panic, I also think maybe we’re taking it a tad too lightly. But then again are we? I remember my mother (the ever wise) always saying, “Eat well, and nothing can harm you.” Sometimes I wish it were that simple. A look at me and any one worth an opinion would swear that I am a good-eater and I am indeed! Is that why I don’t fall sick too often (touch wood)? But then, what about falling ill, being apparently poisoned by food, hardly a week ago. “Oh! That’s just bad luck,” my mother would say and I might just have to agree. Food experiences in India revolve largely on the notions of luck.Indians are world-renowned for being tough creatures. Yes, we are a prime example of the human race, evolved in every sense, tough from the inside and the outside. Our food is considered unhealthy, why even poisonous to a few, and yet we thrive and consume kilos of these ‘oriental delicacies’ per day and stay perfectly fine. We actually grow eating it, as much as many westerners might find that surprising. Hygiene is re-defined in the country’s many food-lanes. If it smells ok, the food looks clean and the cook has a smile on his face, the food is safe – any old grandmother would agree. Our stomachs have been lined since the day we were born with layers of protective coatings and most of the time, the old-oil from that last plate of pakodas, wouldn’t elicit a burp while it might have poisoned a whole township in Seattle. We’re tough yes, we agree! Yet, we’re also the same species who will run like wild animals to the nearest hospital the moment an epidemic is announced. “Doctor! My eyes are red, do I have swine flu,” a doctor friend was genuinely asked, by a patient earlier today. Remember Chikungunya? How we all thought we had it? Maybe panicking comes naturally to us, as a people plagued by epidemics for centuries (read the innumerous plagues and virus epidemics we’ve faced over the last few centuries). So maybe, it’s in our blood. But need we worry that much?All I’m saying is, “We’re Indians!” Fine! Be concerned and do keep track of what’s happening to your body, but the next time you feel an itch in your nose, please do take a minute to consider that all you need is a good scratch, not the run to the nearest swine flu center.