February 22, 2011

Before the Toothbrush

What was there before the toothbrush? The twig of course. Has it died down? No sir! Not in India. It’s still very much the in-thing in rural India. But what surprised me somewhat is this spectacle of seeing policemen using twigs in Gurgaon. Well, I guess you discover many unexpected facets of India on those early morning walks — if you bother to venture outside of the confines of your apartment complex.

I am left wondering if the policemen use twigs out of cultural habit or to save money or out of convenience. I would be interested in hearing the opinion of the readers about what they think. I saw more this morning. One sturdy Haryanvi policeman climbed a tree on the periphery of the police station this morning — presumably to collect a twig for brushing his tooth. I am not quite sure as to the purpose of this energetic activity as the line of sight from me to him was not quite unobstructed.

What does this say — about policemen in particular and Indians in general? I do not know.
I am only wondering if the twig will last unto the next century too. I remember when Rajiv Gandhi used to talk about taking India to the 21st century. I used to be thrilled and used to wonder about how specifically India is going to be different in the next century. Bullock carts are a somewhat unique mode of transport that is omnipresent in rural India. I used to make annual trips to my ancestral village those days while going to school the rest of the year in a small steel town. So, I sort of used to associate bullock carts with villages and with being backward. I used to imagine that surely in the great 21st century, there will be nothing as archaic as bullock carts plying the streets and fields in rural India. But alas, we are more than one decade into that futuristic century and oxen can still be seen doing a sterling job of carrying paddy and more in the parts of India where paddy is grown.

Who knows … who will bet that the bullock cart won’t last into the next century as well when Facebook and Twitter and iPhones and Google will perhaps have vanished altogether…

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