Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Street Food and the Law 04: A Strange Article

Sinful to serve in the same jhutah, glass without washing it after a drink, taste for saltiness with the cooking spoon, not wash mouth after each eat, talk while prepare food leading to invisible accidental spit on it, touch the person serving food while eating, on bed eat … are a few taboos.
Jayati Gupta, 'Unhygienic Street Food Addiction is a Health Hazard'

I'm glad I'm not the only one working on street food. Found this article on the net. Up until now, practically all the material on the subject I've come across espouse the cause of street food. Here, for a change, is something from a contrary viewpoint.

Uh, viewpoint? I wouldn't be too sure there. While the author's strong aversion to street food is manifest, her reasons why remain obscure. Even if one succeeds in parsing her English prose into something approaching sense.

She starts with the premise: 'In reality street eat is not typical Indian background. Trace the same to the ancient and also not so ancient Indian austere food intake culture.' And then:

Strict kitchen regulation and rigid habits, practiced throughout years now worn away with carelessness or compulsion of modernity (pseudo) egg on, malicious under cover diseases.

Apparently, street food may look deliciously attractive, surely not to public good health. Particularly when such structures clog pathways, it is like fungus or diphtheria infection that choke gullet.

Presumably she herself knows what a '(pseudo) egg' means, and how it relates to modernity. But for the likes of us a few footnotes would have been welcome. A stern warning follows: 'Encourage street food is encourage slow poison. Illiterate vendors under unhygienic conditions operate, hit, and run. That he has mostly flying customers it is hard to trace the stomach upsets …'

To her credit, the author does show some concern for poor vendors:

However, applying the need to survival, innovative design concept is a must for the hawker trying to etch out a living with literally no help from administrative.

Surely, with space management plan, free zones in every postal area – in marketplace – food courts for the grub hawkers to carry on their activities as per traditional hygiene should help to breathe clean.

Spot cooking on demand only in permitted areas confirm safety for both the vendor and consumer. Eat, sleep, excrete, urinate, and bathe on the street may find attraction to those who thrive in indiscipline.

This one's truly magnificent:

Some roar at Rich express of affection on podium as offensive; however forget own vulgar street-side display. Men women washing under public glare, sometimes even next to Shulabh facilities.

It is time to wake up to the rich heritage in real sense and not to the beck and call of seedy novo rich, some, from abroad who wish to lap up cheap gains as perhaps master of “who knows what?” nexus selling space belonging to others. Hafta extort agents are sure poor, cashing regal for the invisible or masked individuals, what a pity.

This begs the question, what has our 'vulgar public display' of 'men women washing under public glare' got to do with the 'seedy novo rich' (may god bless them)? As for '“who knows what?” nexus selling space belonging to others', that's where I give up.

Last thought: Maybe it's not for nothing that classifies this under the generic category 'Ramblings'.

[NB: All excerpts from the article have been directly copy/pasted from the original, and are thus verbatim reproductions of the latter. This expedient allows me to avoid marking out blunders with a [sic]. Had I done so, this post would have been about twice its present length.]


Anonymous said...

Naturally, thirty plus is no age to conclude on cultural tradition that much time is spent on cramming books of law into the mindset with no moment to ingest the finer facts through literature of the past that reveal society in minute details. Surely, mean Indian society and Indian authors… Often, confirmed by many foreign writers.
Food makes man remain in his element of Health Wealth Happiness...
Well, pseudo modernity eggs on pseudo legal battles! Is it encouraging chaos that the businesses of memorised laws help as money-spinners but not effective administration – Right?

For information, the idea conveyed in the article has been categorised in “Rambling” by the author herself. Her reasons are reserved.

Street Food is an open invitation to spread mischief by miscreants that could lead to mass illness particularly in Indian scenario.

Shallow interpretation cannot secure "Good health that equate to wealth."

An attempt to reach the depth in the so-called 'Strange Article' is an important factor that points out "Prevention is better than cure"

Yes, our real rich cultural heritage ignored, and petty non-issues blown out of proportion to shirk serious issues!

Thank you

Jayati Gupta

Takaikundu said...

It's a gem of an article, and a gem of a rebuttal from the author. What depth of thought, what prose, what command on language! Reminds me of the Angrezi speaking prowess of Amitabhjee in Namak Halaal! However, I would greatly appreciate if anybody can tell me where I can pseudo eggs, I really wanna eat 'em!!

Anonymous said...

Well, smart people find difficulties to follow the uncomplicated and twist simplicity to their own advantage, which actually is their disadvantage - only if they knew - these innocent language experts! Champion kings of arrogance wear crown made from eggshells to flaunt know better, remaining pseudo kings of zilch.
Where to, find the pseudo egg? Want to know – do look into the mirror and eat it. Modernity (pseudo) turns to screech, unable to develop clean habits. Huh!

Strict kitchen regulation and rigid habits, practiced throughout years now worn away with carelessness or compulsion of modernity (pseudo) egg on, malicious under cover diseases.

Tiksha said...

Dear Abhik-ji,

I am aware that you are an ardent supporter/connoisseur of street food and any attempt at defacing the charm of street food will invariably not go unnoticed by you. But do you really have to bother writing "rebuttals" to articles such as these? REALLY Abhik?

As far as Ms. Gupta is concerned, her article does not warrant as much attention as it is currently enjoying, like, here for example. But even if one were to give her some leeway for being disgusted at the levels of hygiene of street food, it is important to examine the cause of the sustenance of such a market, rather than "banning it". Surely one knows that there are lots of poor people who thrive on the cheap food made accessible by these vendors. But if "cheapness" was one of the causes of the popularity of street food and, the food really *that* disgusting, then why are the "novo-rich" whizzing past public toilets in their cars to collect food from the vendors parked beside them, when they can afford to eat at fancy places all the same? Symptomatic treatment of the disease is never a solution. Much like how I would not treat Ms. Gupta for brain-fever (despite all symptoms pointing to it), until I am sure that there is indeed a said pathogen there causing it.

Going by how much of a fan Ms. Gupta is of "Sulabh Shauchalaya" and how she harps upon the "tradition" behind food in India being stamped upon through street food, I wonder if she forces the men in her family to follow the strict regimen required by "tradition" (Hindu), before they can perform their morning “ablutions” (as mentioned on the website of Sulabh at ( Let me quote some for you.
1. Before going for defecation it was prescribed that the sacred thread should be rolled to a smaller size and be put on the right ear.
2. The head was to be covered with a cloth. In the absence of cloth, the sacred thread was to be brought over the head and was to be hung on the left ear.

Not that I am trying to mock at the problem of sanitation/lack of hygiene (and I didn't Ms. G to remind me of it, I studied about it in high school), we cannot take refuge in tradition at the drop of a hat and forget about rational arguments. Ms. Gupta, here is a small piece of advice for you. Claiming tradition to be an unchanging yardstick of the past and future is NEVER a good idea in a dynamic world. Moreover, the tackling of the problems as responsible adults, should be more than school-boyish and less superficial (and, not to mention, done in a language that people understand).

That said, pseudo egg was awesome.


Anonymous said...

Dear Tiksha
Of course you are trying to mock not to be ostracised from the gangs of smarty faultfinders in good projects (can understand your fears are valid – even more if you are young) –
As if follow tradition is left for old fashioned mindset –
Ok Tagore is more than one hundred years old with his Noble, going steady even in this century of unchanged Mr but changed Miss to dubious Ms... . As if Mrs are genre to look down upon therefore use the business minded Messer’s; maul; cut short to Ms, minds unable to think beyond petty immediate… profits galore.
Uncontrollable Street Food is an easy way to seek and find guinea pigs out of unsuspecting crowds. Indians ahead, sore points for many rich watchers with binoculars, waiting to make profits out of antidotes to cure instigated/implemented stomachaches, and ulcers.
Only if the gullible were made conscious of the lurking dangers staying in their open invitations to ills that envy takes better among people who have enough and still want more as well suffer persecution complex of being robbed by poor…
Street Food poses dangers in an uncontrolled illiterate, trying to feed more illiteracy. It is a danger to general health, an example: uses of a metal spatula/spoon to turn; toss Omelette/Dosa on a non-stick fry pan with no knowledge of triggering carcinoma…
Why not the learned try use the smartness to combat little knowledge is dangerous… or encourage a proper systematic food court… anything that may ensure discipline we had taking into consideration our tropical climate and much more…
Enemies stay put within narrow boundaries of collecting haftas dreaming to secure their progeny a secured future ( sure only if the earning is not ill gotten )– which is for sure ill-gotten money through cluttered footpaths and these are foot paths not bath paths!