Posted by: cochinblogger | January 18, 2010

What India Can Teach the West

Topping the list of what Westerners can learn from Indians is elementary personal hygiene. I will here confine myself to just one case in point: the use of toilet paper versus cleaning with water. I’d always accepted that the world was divided into wipers and washers, and put it down to cultural preference. However, a recent conversation with a doctor left me in no doubt as to which is the more effective, hygienic method. It seems the Western diet earlier produced hard stools, and wiping would suffice to clean the area. However, with the increasing use of processed food over time, the stool is no longer hard, and proper cleaning requires the use of water. I mean, I got this from a doctor, not a layman, so unless he was on something (in the sense of what was he smoking …), he was on to something.

The Indian who travels to the West is baffled by the absence of running water in most restrooms. For us, it is second nature to wash our hands before eating and rinse our mouths with water after eating. A daily bath is also a must. Europeans, on the other hand, are like cats in their dislike of water; perhaps the cold climate accounts for this.

Of course, this Indian concern for personal hygiene does not translate into civic hygiene; quite the opposite! Here, undoubtedly we must learn from the West. Our weaknesses seem to be complementary; what the Lord giveth with the right hand, He taketh away with the left.

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