Now that I have quit my job, and I am more happy than ever and proudly self employed; I was recalling some of the memories of my old workplace, i.e, Gujarat. I can't help but share with you this phenomenon, this lifeline that runs through every corner and every street of Saurashtra (Gujarat)- it's MASALA, baby!
Well, to those lucky people who have not witnessed the masala magic, I may explain that Masala is a mixture of tobacco, supari and lime- served by the Panwala (The small tobacco shop guy) tied in a small polythene. You have to rub the polythene on your palm to mix it properly and then just put it in your mouth and chew it and savor the feeling (not that I have ever gone close to even trying that, I abhor it personally). The people there proudly chew the mixture till they squeeze the life out of that mixture (and calcium out of their teeth, lol) and till the red liquid like mixture, gets stuck between their hardly there teeth (the lime slowly erodes the teeth!) and till they can hardly speak- their mouths full to the brim with that mixture and then they spit it! Yes, they spit it on the roads, on the walls, on the neighbours' roof, on the cars, in parks... They spit it anywhere. Are you listening Singaporeans??You wont believe I have seen the tarmac of Saurashtra roads change color to red. Such is the downpour of Masala on them.
While I was working there, I did quite a few interviews with my Masala chewing colleagues, lol.
They were funny. One said that though he knows the ill effects Masala can have, he can't work without it and if given abundant supply he can work for days without sleeping. You had to depend on your reflexes to save yourself from his spit, because the Masala had eaten up his teeth over the years.
Another said that since a babu always used to ask masala packs to get his work done, he one day stealthily mixed double lime in the mix and served it to him to vent his anger. The babu couldn't eat for a few days because of the ulcers.
Upon being asked if the Saurashtra girls mind the guys chewing up that Masala all the time (because I was pretty sure that the mixture cant help the romance), my young colleague said that the girls here grow up watching their fathers and elder brothers chewing Masala, so they know that their future boyfriend or husband will do the same. They are prepared.
Such is the acceptance towards this deadly addiction in that region. And it's ironical that the state has bans on liquor sale instead!
મને મસાલા પસાર?! નથી :D