Yaark-thoo! Hey, watch it! Bloody hell. You almost got me. Sorry, where was I? Ah, yes. The decoding of the Indian genome.
A team of CSIR scientists has, for the first time, unravelled the secrets that lie with the desi genome, using a sample taken from a 52-year-old DNA donor. A genome is like a map that helps us to chart our genetic karma who and what we are, and what makes us tick and why. By studying the genetic sequences in the genome, scientists will be able to figure out why Indians are predisposed to diabetes , for instance, or coronary disease. Important as these revelations about blood sugar and dicky hearts undoubtedly will be, i’m hoping that the decoded genome will explain something seemingly far more fundamental to our inner being than a propensity to insulin deficiency and cardiac problems, something that identifies us Indians as Indians, whether we are in India or anywhere else on the face of the planet, North and South Poles, the Amazon basin, and the top of Mt Everest not excluded. What’s that something? Spitting.
Indians spit. Caste, creed and sex no bar. The frequent and energetic ejection of saliva despite the cautionary notices put up in our post offices, ‘Do not affix stamp with sputum’ spitting is not just a national pastime; it is a national passion. More than kabaddi, or kho-kho, or IPL, spitting is our true desi sport. And we practise it assiduously wherever we happen to be: on the streets, in bazaars, on railway platforms and bus addas and airports, in offices and schools and factories and restaurants and shops and… Yaark-thoo! Godalmighty! That’s the second time someone’s almost got me in the space of a single column.
How do we do it? Where does it all come from? The spit. The saliva. The sputum. The product of the salivary glands. What is it about our biological make-up that enables us to produce so much of the stuff that we seem to be forever having to get rid of it, expel it from our systems, lest through excess of it, surfeiting, our appetite for it would sicken and die.
Gutka helps. So do paans and paan masala. The scarlet and red and crimson splotches and splashes and streaks that our public buildings and streets are decorated with as though they were a form of folk art, like the ancient cave paintings in Bhimbhetka and other places bear witness to their efficacy as salivary stimulants, the Viagras of sputum. But though gutka and paans contribute to the phenomenon, they cannot explain it in its enigmatic entirety.
By and large or rather, by and small we Indians are not big people. True, the richer among us tend to be overweight. But for every XL Indian there are thousands, hundreds of thousands, of scrawny Indians. So, being small and skinny for the most part, how is it that we generate so much spit, the only natural resource which we seem to be in no danger of running out of? Where do we get it from, and where’s it stored? Do we possess a natural receptacle, like a kangaroo’s pouch, except inside rather than outside, where the stuff is tucked away till we thook! it out?
The decoded genome should tell us all this, and more. Or maybe not. Maybe our desi habit of spitting has got nothing to do with our genes. Maybe our spitting is not so much a genetic consequence as a social and political comment. Read a newspaper. Or watch the news on TV. Or just look around you.
Scams. Swindles. Satyam. Koda. Hawala. Telangana riots. Anti-Telangana riots. Anti-anti-Telangana riots. Political corruption. Bureaucratic corruption. Judicial corruption. Corruption corruption, where you have to bribe someone to accept a bribe.
Leave a bad taste in the mouth? So how do you get rid of it? That’s right, Yaark-thoo!
Can’t beat ’em, join ’em.
Courtesy: Times of India