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| Last Updated:12/11/2014

Latest News(Archive)

Latest News

Cleaning up the country

The Hindu, 29 October 2014


Cleanliness, whether moral or environmental, can be achieved by society only if it becomes the goal of every individual. There. Now you don’t need to plough through the rest of my column because I’ve dug up the nub of my argument and handed it to you on a platter — or should I say on the blade of a spade? You don’t need to read what I have to say about cultural notions of cleanliness. You don’t need to read about the gold you throw away after a festival or my fruitless search for a tongue-cleaner in an alien land. Okay, maybe that last one tickled your curiosity — fess up, now.


A tongue-cleaner was a long, narrow, thin strip of plastic with which one used to, in the distant past, scrape one’s tongue after cleaning one’s teeth. Since they broke easily, the frugal thing to do was to buy the durable U-shaped stainless steel model. Your mouth wasn’t considered clean until the surface of your tongue had been scraped raw and pink by this implement. A quarter of a century ago I had just landed in eastern USA when my tongue-cleaner — a steel one no less — snapped in two. I didn’t think I could survive six months without it so I started asking all and sundry about shops that might stock the item. ‘Tongue-cleaner’ left everyone utterly confounded. I presented my problem to an Indian friend who lived on the West Coast, but instead of commiserating with me he ribbed me mercilessly and suggested that I use a toothbrush to clean my tongue like everyone else. Read more....