Some things are a way of life in India and we don’t talk about them much. However, as this happens a lot in our city, we cannot stand by and watch even though it’s unpleasant to talk about. I don’t mind taking the criticism for this, but I guess someone has to start talking about this.


I often wonder, why is that we often SPIT so much on roads and public places? I mean I don’t find a point in it. I remember when I was a young kid, I did not have the access to things in life like I do now. I lived in undeveloped neighborhood of Perambur, where the only decent theater around was “Sri Brindha A/C”.

Forget about Mookambika, Ganga and Yamuna in Kolathur! For a physically challenged kid like me who does everything by himself and not many friends to share a passion for English movies, it was not really worthwhile to walk all the way from Perambur to these theatres. But Brindha was at a walkable distance from Raghavan Street. I did not have my hand-pedalled tri-cycle till my 9th grade and so I walked everywhere and Brindha was my only solace.

Sri Brindha Theatre was good! I mean, of course, they showed mostly Rajinikanth flicks and was run by Rajini Fan Club folks, where all Thalaivar movies were released with mega celebrations and milk and honey abishekam for him. Yet, they also played many good English movies.

Nevertheless, the conversation here not about theaters, Rajinikanth or my passion for English movies, but about what people do in a public places like a movie theater.

Do you folks remember the “Spittoons” or “Spit Here…” named after flower pots with sand on it where every dude (and some dudettes) used to go and spit pan parag and paint them red? I used to be baffled! I mean, you come to a movie theatre to catch a good movie. A popcorn and soda is normal, snacks or foods is normal, but why chew tobacco or pan there? Is not the movie already good enough as entertainment or distraction?

Well, since I never was a tobacco or pan user in my life I may not know how cool it is to do it, but do we even realise the discomfort our pan or tobacco smell causes to non-smokers and people who don’t chew pan? I guess I never understood those things from a third person’s perspective.

This is probably because (as I see it) many in our society are self-centered and lack an attitude of “team work” and togetherness.

I’m however glad that this self-centered society is changing for the good and I can see people who would otherwise not meet and talk, now sharing a great conversation, thanks to technology and globalisation. It changes lives in developing countries like ours for the better. However, this does not seem to prevent us of from indulging in dirty habits like “Spitting…”

I got my first vehicle. It was a Lions Club donated tri-cycle and was hand-pedalled. Take my words blindly when I say this, for a physically challenged person, independence is all about it. I had more than independence with that tri-cycle, I was EMPOWERED!

When I took my first ride on the cycle and I was given instructions at home to go to the B.B. Road Perumaal Kovil and get the archanai done for the cycle and as I was returning at the back of 42B on Paper Mills Road “spat!” comes my blessing not from heaven but from a heavenly body sitting at the window of 42B spitting his way all around the town, marking his scent all over the city and, of course, giving us the possibility of procuring any oral disease or infection he might have had.

Auto Drivers Spit, Passengers Spit, Bus drivers Spit, People in cars (yes the benz ones too!) Spit, Two wheeler riders Spit, Pedestrians Spit, Spit, Spit, Spit, Spit and all we have is a class of a city ridden to a smite because of our spit. Good stuff we are into, aren’t we?

It’s amazing that the only UNITY IN DIVERSITY that we display is in cheap offences like this such as spitting. Oh yes, don’t be enraged by what I’m saying. Spitting as per the law is an offense and criminal. I’m not a lawyer or a legal expert but I would be sure whoever built the constitution and civil code of conduct in public places in India for sure would have made spitting illegal. If that is not the case, I would be really, really depressed.

I do remember public smoking was banned when I joined NIIT sometime around my college first year (I think 1999 or 2000) and it was nothing more of a tool for our friendly cops to drink tea and coffee out of my friends tea kadai account and, of course, buy smokes. I’m glad I somehow did not pick up the habit of smoking or chewing tobacco and most surprisingly spitting on the roads. However, that did not spare me from the crude effects of passive smoking. I’m a patient of cerebral palsy and one of the rare conditions of this disease is that all patients have respiratory problems. I did have my polyps correct surgery done 2 years back and I’m perfectly fine now (phew! finally!) but back then even the smallest smoke of tobacco or a strong scent of pan paraag will give me a bad cold for 1 week and not to forget a headache.

Apparently 8 out of 10 people have the nose stem deviation and polyps problems because of pollution, passive smoking and chewing of tobacco and pan related elements or says my ENT surgeon at the Kaliappa ENT Research Centre.

I was not surprised, seriously! You wanna know why? Because when a responsible leader like Lalu Prasad Yadav can in the name of serious sudden inspection visit the railway station and fire people, and yet spit on the railway tracks and set a wonderful example for all of his fanatic partymen I certainly have no nerve to blame the common man.

I found this note on the internet, probably written by some foreigner about how we run our nation and I was furious and humiliated. The otherwise aggressive and fire breathing arguement that I would have started could not be done here because every word he said in there was true.

I hope if we all meet up one fine day, we Chennai Metbloggers and one of the first welfare projects we could kick off in this city is to brainstorm and figure out how to make people NOT SPIT on the roads and pavements. That for starters would be a outstanding gift to chennai.

So after much serious discussions and blabbering and pouring/cribbing my head out on this we shall try end this with a humorous note…

It so happens that Lalu completed 25 years of his rule in Bihar, he wanted a special postage stamp issued, with his picture on it. He so instructed Rabridevi, stressing that it should be of international quality. The stamps were duly released, and Lalu was pleased. But within a couple of days of releasing the stamp, he began hearing complaints that the stamp was not sticking properly, and became furious. He called Rabri and ordered her to investigate the matter. Rabri checked the matter and found out from several post offices, and then reported on the problem to Lalu. She said: “The stamp is really of international quality. The problem is, our Biharis are spitting on the wrong side”

I guess we Chennaites can start with the right side and stop spitting for starters.

16 Comments so far

  1. tsk tsk (unregistered) on October 19th, 2007 @ 1:55 am

    this article is too long and i couldnt read all of it

    but one of the nicer ways to stop ppl from spitting is to have photos of the gods stuck on walls.

    it actually works in bbay

  2. Terminator (unregistered) on October 19th, 2007 @ 2:48 am

    Really Nice blog. I’m really becoming a fan of Dilip. Definitely awareness should come in this area which will improve cleanliness in the city as well reduce the diseases spread due to this.

  3. Just_curious (unregistered) on October 19th, 2007 @ 3:37 am

    I agree Spitting shd be avoided.
    But more nuisance is throwing garbage mindlessly…like we buy a candy at the road side store…unwrap it and the next thing we do is to throw the wrapper on the road no matter where you are…and this rule applies of everything…be a banana, sweet …u name it..we do it. But we cant blame people altogether.. we wont have trash bins any were in the vicinity. We have a long way to go even in terms of basic social responsibility…
    We need to be educated on these basic things from home(your father did that so you do it. If you stop doing that your son will stop doing it), school, else this cant be changed.

  4. tamizhan (unregistered) on October 19th, 2007 @ 5:55 am

    I used to chew Pan Parag before and used to spit everywhere without a thought. From my bike, car, bus, walking etc etc. This was when I was around 25 y.o.

    I feel disgusted now thinking that I had done that. Thinking of why I did it (they are not excuses, btw), here are the reasons:

    – I was stupid (for both spitting and chewing paan),
    – Was too selfish to think of how it would affect others, and
    – I saw other people doing it.

    The only action I can think of is as below:

    – Make it unlawful (if it is not already),
    – Punishments could be a fine or cleaning the place in public,
    – Advertise and create awareness about the law, and
    – Enforce the law.

    This action can be applicable to spitting, traffic violations and practically any unlawful activity.

  5. Giridhar (unregistered) on October 19th, 2007 @ 9:58 am

    As vivek says in a movie, if we had collected all the spit and cut a culvert and led it to tanjore, they would have cultivated “mubogam” (3 times a year)

  6. Anonymous Coward (unregistered) on October 19th, 2007 @ 12:35 pm

    //figure out how to make people NOT SPIT on the damn roads and pavements. That for starters would be a outstanding gift to chennai. //
    Why dont we have spitoons kept at strategic places where people can actually spit.
    Outlawing will not stop people from spitting, trashing or urinating, the solution is provide better public amenities/convinience facilities.

  7. Dilip Muraldiaran (unregistered) on October 19th, 2007 @ 2:14 pm

    Open Saliva in public places is a towering spot for spreading infection, especially in times of break out of disease like cholera, chicken pox etc,

    We cannot risk having spittoons just like we cannot risk having human excreta out in the open.

    Thats my 2 cents, we can build more restrooms/toilets which would help better.

  8. Madhusudanan (unregistered) on October 19th, 2007 @ 11:33 pm

    A sensible post after a long time. I dont think spitoos are the way to curb people from spitting.Its the self discipline that we all lack.I happen to visite singapore 2 months ago and i was really overwhelmed by the self discipline shown by the singaporeans and the expat crowd. Even that is a crowded city too like Chennai. With respect to Garbage, i think the Corporation should install GOOD LOOKING garbage bins at a regular interval of 100 metres. I saw in Singapore that you turn anywhere you find a nice clean BIN. I have no doubt if people follow this then we can make our Chennai another Singapore.

  9. Tomonica chandran (unregistered) on October 19th, 2007 @ 11:44 pm

    Oh talk about spit and this incident comes to my mind. A Canadian school friend of mine visited Calcutta during the last days of her stay in India. All her ideas about India were perfect and she loved the country to bits!
    So she stood in the railway station waiting for a friend to pick her up when she came across two women fighting. All of a sudden she had all the red goo on her face. One of the women, apparently was too involved in the heated arguement, turned around and spat with all the force available in her body unto my friend’s pretty face and continued fighting oblivious to what her fountain just did! wow! Must Jessica read this?!

  10. Terminator (unregistered) on October 20th, 2007 @ 12:17 am

    I too agree that there are no trash cans or garbage bins in the city where it is required. But the sorrow state is that when you install one, you do not know how long it is going to stay there as there are people who take anything and everything availble for free. I have even heard that the underground drainage lids being lifted and sold for good price..

  11. Sundeep (unregistered) on October 20th, 2007 @ 3:38 am

    Dilip, Last time I visited chennai I wondered the same, “how to stop people spitting?”. I believe, we cannot change people by simply telling them. But, as you say, it should be made a civic obligation, by constitutionalising “spitting” as an offence!. And penalty would be to clean his/her own spit…

    Like the idea of getting all the Chennai metro bloggers (alike the readers) and doing something about such simple matters. I solemnly believe simple issues like this can have an adverse effect in peoples health.

  12. shyam (unregistered) on October 20th, 2007 @ 8:45 am

    It is not impossible to curb this distasteful habit. Not many people know this, but the French were also spitters of good calibre, till recently. The French Govt. organized a massive campaign against it over many years, and finally, the practice stopped.

    If out govt. wakes up, imposes its own anti-spitting law coupled with a massive PR campaign, things WILL improve. After all, this is a state that scores high on most social indicators, partly due to the efforts of the govt. Or maybe the High Court needs to be roped in to enforce the law, like what happened with the helmet rule.

  13. Sunil (unregistered) on October 23rd, 2007 @ 4:47 pm

    Spitting anywhere and everywhere should be banned, i’am echoing the thoughts that many have of you have mentioned. Possibly a Television campaign, a Radio campaign, a Poster campaign etc. etc., debates, discussions in schools, colleges, probably a run/marathon/walk AGAINST SPITTING IN PUBLIC PLACES might help. Eminent personalities from various fields and disciplines could be roped in for this effort… “SAY NO TO SPITIING IN PUBLIC PLACES”

  14. Sunil (unregistered) on October 23rd, 2007 @ 5:06 pm

    Excuse the mistakes from my previous post. Thanks.

  15. Banning is useless (unregistered) on October 27th, 2007 @ 4:35 pm


    In the interest of health of the general public, smoking and spitting in the place of public work or use and in public service vehicle has been prohibited in the State of Tamil Nadu with effect from 14/05/2003.

  16. Panwala (unregistered) on October 27th, 2007 @ 4:40 pm

    //Open Saliva in public places is a towering spot for spreading infection, especially in times of break out of disease like cholera, chicken pox etc,//

    then provide a spittoon with a flush

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