Hello everyone, Boothnath here. Just in case you are wondering which Boothnath (or, maybe not, as I have heard that it is not a very popular name anymore) I will reintroduce myself. I am Boothnath Rasila Yadav, a deceased Indian freedom fighter, writing from heaven. I was a contemporary of great men including Gandhi and Nehru and I gave my life for India in the great freedom struggle from the clutches of the British Empire.
When my mortal remains were scattered on my beloved homeland, as you would expect, my soul went to heaven. During the entry interview, God in his infinite kindness, did not even ask about my relationship with the very married Mrs. Gopalnarayan. In fact, he praised me for my dedication to India and welcomed me with open arms.
What and where is heaven you may ask? Is God male or female? More so, you may wonder, why I, a confirmed atheist on earth, am now singing the praises of the almighty. These are age old questions that I will not endeavour to answer in this column. I will instead tell you why I have chosen to communicate with you, my dear Indians, at this juncture in time. A few days ago, God summoned me and gave me a task. He asked me to try and remedy simple social norms, perceptions and practices in India, that will not only better my countrymen’s experience of each other but also greatly lift the worldview of my beloved country. God said the remit was broader than it was narrower; he asked only that I use good judgement and sound reasoning in my communication with his children. He further elaborated that he had undertaken this project in many other countries as he had realized that there were many problems on earth that required not harsh intervention, but a more organic and subliminal message of change.
Why have I chosen ‘The NRI’ as the vehicle of my communications? In fact, it was God’s idea that the written word may be an excellent way for me to do his bidding. I therefore, chose ‘The NRI’ as we in heaven, given our particular circumstances, have a very good idea of which websites are going to make it and which are not!
The first issue that I am going to tackle is a simple yet vital concern that I have had for a long time. Why, oh why, do so many of my country men and women have an aversion to using antiperspirant (also known as deodorant)! Yes, I am aware that technically they are not the same thing but for the purposes of my message I shall use them interchangeably.
Now I am not talking about some classic stereotype that was created by the British in days gone by and thus after used in a derogatory manner against brown people. Indians must be one of the cleanest cultural entities on earth. I don’t believe there is a single religion in India that does not hold cleanliness in the highest regard. Most major Indian rituals (even minor ones) cannot be done or begun or even thought about till we have bathed. To such extent is our desire to bathe that we will bathe anywhere we can – in showers and bathes, lakes and dams, the roadside, in the middle of the flyover and my personal favourite, the ‘tube well’. Not only must we cleanse ourselves before we offer prayers, we must also clean our homes and the area around us before performing our religious obligations. I have often observed my fellow Indians cleaning the ‘verahndas’ of their houses in the morning during the monsoons when the streets in front of their houses are flooded. Despite the spectacle of their fellow countrymen waddling in the streets in knee deep water, they will not refrain from dumping more water into the street. The fact that we hold cleanliness in even higher regard than our civic obligations leaves no doubt that we are ‘clean’ people. And, therein, lies the tragedy of our ‘smelliness’.
We Indians have a bath, put on our clean and well ironed clothes, and set about our day. Now just in case this has gone unnoticed, I will point out that India is mostly a hot country and so are so many other countries where our NRI’s reside. During the rollercoaster that is the modern working day, resident Indians and NRI’s, will take crowded buses and trains to and from work, shop in crowded supermarkets and cook daal. At some point, your sweat glands, such as the ones under your armpits, will start to release sweat in order to maintain your body temperature. After a while the heat, bacteria, and God knows what else (and God does know everything) you will develop what is known as Body Odour (BO).
You may sense a trifle hesitation in what exactly I am trying to convey. Therefore, I am just going to come out and say it - sometimes, my fellow Indians, you stink of BO! Standing next to you on a bus or even passing by you in a store aisle one gets such a strong whiff of your stench that one must clutch at the nearest pillar for support. Why do we have to be the owners of such smell, carrying it on our bodies as a prized perfume when really we should be immediately bundled into a bag and taken to the nearest pharmacy to buy ‘deodorant’.
Furthermore, as if smelling bad was not bad enough, we have the most important issue of attractiveness to consider. God, in his infinite kindness, has created in us the ability to feel attraction to the opposite sex, and the same sex, but I digress. How many times have you looked across a crowded train and seen a good looking lady and approached her only to be rebuffed before uttering a single word. Gentlemen, you may fare better in your advances if you did not smell worse than a sack of rotting rambutans!
To my fellow Indian ladies who suffer from BO. Amongst the many virtues, both perceived and real, that men attribute to the fairer sex is that an attractive woman has a pleasant smell. How is a man to desire you if when he inhales in your presence, you smell worse than refrigerated aloo gobi?
Let us take a moment to discuss Indian cooking. My passion for Indian food is surpassed by none, but we must admit that our food can often have an overwhelming smell owing to our heavy use of spices. Now I know that the modern Indian man cooks but traditionally this role has been taken by the women in our culture. Ladies, may I suggest that you consider cooking prior to bathing and not post bathing. The smell of food, coupled with sweat and trapped in a polyester sari can render useless the most determined of lovers!
In my days on earth, we did not even have access to toiletries such as deodorant. I cannot tell you how many times I have thought a woman attractive, approach me at a political rally and raise her arm only for me to be accosted by a most unholy smell that threatened to knock my ‘topi’ off.
Friends, Indians, countrymen, lend me your ears. I come to exalt the virtues of deodorant. Let us banish BO like the ten-headed Ravana. Deodorant may not be part of our history but we must ensure that it is a part of our daily future. Let us go forth and attempt to smell good at all times. To have someone standing next to you smell like roses, jasmine, musk and all those wonderful smells God has created for our benefit - now that would be truly magnificent!
I hope that I have made my point clearly. Brevity is not my forte but some things are better said now than never. Reducing BO is in the best interests of our country and its image abroad.
I will write again soon, depending on God’s response to my preliminary post. Till then goodbye, and remember Indians, God really does love you.