Yes, yes, we're like that only. Sab chalta hai in our great country including peeing in public and spitting paan. It may be a long time before some of us ditch our more disgusting habits, but here are five others that are far easier to kick.
We heart plastic: Dirt, it's everywhere. Just waiting to ruin your beloved drawing room furniture and the plush car seats on your new car. But it's difficult indeed to admire the many charms of that gigantic red leather sofa when it's all trussed up in plastic. And afternoon chai is just a bit less appetising when accompanied by the plastic-induced farting sounds that ensue each time you shift your bum. So ditch the damn covers and embrace those cleaning bills as the price of keeping up with the Sharmas.
And while we're on the subject of the least eco-friendly substance on the planet, let's get rid the 100-odd yellowing plastic forks and spoons stuffed in the kitchen drawers. Cheap plastic flatware leaches chemicals and never can be fully cleaned. And the next time the delivery guy tries to give you a handful, just say no!
Extra tip: We don't have to take something just because it's free. That includes the gazillion little plastic bags of seasoning, ketchup and soy sauce in the fridge.
Hair unnatural: Unless you're going punk or pretending to be Irish, orange is an unacceptable colour for human hair. There are plenty of decent hair dyes waiting at the closest Health & Glow for you to enter the 21st century. Henna has its virtues but not as a cheap alternative to hiding your gray. And as for you fashionistas, those blonde tresses look every bit as tacky on an Indian face, and that's what you are, how much ever you wish otherwise. Besides, better to be dark and proud than prematurely bald from all that bleaching. And ditch those ridiculous coloured contact lenses as well.
Extra tip: If you really want to channel your inner dumb blonde, try this: open mouth, speak.
Mobile retards: We all know this kind. The type that can't hold a single conversation without their phone clutched firmly in hand — to send messages, take calls, read their FB updates while they reward us with their sorely divided attention. Ok, we get it. You're very busy, i.e. so very important, and, sadly, a big fat bore. Also: a public menace. Your dinner companions may indeed be mildly interested in your high-volume conversation with your old chaddi yaar, aka kamine, bastard, gandu et al. But the rest of the folks in the restaurant are most certainly not.
So why don't you just take it outside? And by that we mean, outside. Not just to the tables outdoors so you can loom over some hapless couple, ruining their Friday night.
Fashion offensive: Auntieji, who can argue with the comforts of the beloved maxi? If Americans can spend all day in their drab old sweats, no reason why our ladies can't just chill in their multi-coloured nighties. So roomy, easy to just throw on (or off), and perfect when you're just hanging out at home. Read that? At home. Places not to wear a maxi include: the milk booth, local market, or anywhere outside your front door. And that includes your evening/morning stroll. The vision of you breezing by in that canary yellow kaftan ought to be reserved for family, household help, and unsuspecting couriers. Don't be sharing that privilege with us undeserving ingrates.
Other kinds of things belong on the inside, as well. For example, young lady, underwear. Those clear bra straps are not meant to be seen, neither is that lacy thong — be it in New Delhi or LA. So, umm, sweet cheeks? Do the rest of us a favour, and keep 'em covered.
Just can't wait: All those firangs who claim Indians are cursed with fatalism and apathy have clearly never, ever been to our great country. We're a people in a permanent hurry. It's why we suddenly materialise in the middle of any line, pretending to be invisible to the human eye, ready to cut in with ninja-like precision at exactly the right time. And why we incessantly honk our horns in a traffic jam — usually created by everyone trying to cut lanes, jump lights, and squeeze ahead, all at the same time. Why we shove, push, and brain unsuspecting passengers with our overhead bag in our eagerness to be the very first to get off the plane.
Well, here's a news flash: there's no point scrambling to get off that plane when your baggage won't arrive for another half hour. And then you'll spend another 20 minutes waiting to be picked up on the curb. You may be in a hurry, but the rest of the country is still on the late-as-usual Indian Standard Time. Might as well slow down and smell the BO.
"Small habits well pursued betimes/ May reach the dignity of crimes," wrote poet Hannah More. Ok, so petty crimes these may be, but crimes they remain, and against humanity at large. Ladies and gentlemen, repent and reform. The future of our civilization relies upon it.
Written with inputs from Pratishtha Dobhal