Can We Resolve to Stop Stinking in 2018?


Can We Resolve to Stop Stinking in 2018?

Illustration: Namaah

If you alone suffer from it, it’s called a “problem”. If you’re a young person, it’s called “nakhra” and is followed by derision, and maybe a slap. If you’re rich, it’s called a “phase” and you go to London or SoHo to deal with it. If a few of us have it, we call it an “objection”. It is only when a decent number of us have it does it go on to become an “issue”.

Broadly, there are three kinds of issues. The first kind are real ones that plague humanity: war, migration, misogyny, crime, infant mortality, etc. These issues get their fair share of time in the sun and in various newsrooms across the country. In return, they are consumed by a grand total of that one guy who lectured you on the dynamics of post-modern economics and pre-modern warfare at a party last weekend.

The second issue – slightly more widespread – is the fake issue. This is the one you make up just so you have something to talk about when things are boring. Making this list are the infamous Monday morning rants (just quit already), slow-internet-rage-blackouts (make real friends maybe?), surge price meltdowns (remember autos?), Pantone shades, broken spades, or whatever gets your goat really. These issues are designed for you to endlessly debate and discuss, with an attempt to change nothing.  A cursory glance suggests Twitter’s entire business model is based on this.

However, it’s the third kind of issue that gets left behind, every year. Like the years preceding it, 2017 ignored the problems that are technically issues, but don’t quite qualify because not enough people feel strongly about them. It’s time we brought some of these issues to the fore in 2018: Vegetarian seekh kebab for instance, dogs that poop on sidewalks and humans who don’t pick it up, people honking at invisible things, rushing to get out of an aircraft, not using earphones in crowded trains – the list is endless. These are the real issues, day-to-day irritants that actually impact us.

The last in our exhaustive list of issues that need to be addressed is smell. There are various stinks plaguing society these days, and we’ve not even begun talking about Indian politics.

Until now. Today we’re going to call them out. Because in 2017, we saw prototypes of inventions that are capable of turning these non-issues around.

Which brings us to a key non-issue of this generation – eating right, an idea that extends a few steps beyond eating organic. If you’re still eating just organic food, you must be living in Bandra East. The west of the world has moved on a while ago. If the streets were wide enough, avocados would get their own temples these days.

But just when we thought all hope for carbs was lost, the Japanese stepped in and introduced the world to an invention that makes advertising copywriters tremble with excitement: the rice bra. It’s literally what its name is, a bra you grow rice in. Why it is made can only be answered by the founders of the Food in Underwear corp. The bra comes with an option to choose your cup size depending on how much rice you want to grow, space for soil and seedlings, and a hose that doubles as a belt.

The next big non-issue on our plate is being single. There are at least 20 apps that help you find the right person who went to an engineering college near you, but it will always be fashionable to be single. You’re with someone? So mainstream… You’re getting married? Really sold out there. Live fast, die young, travel alone, but don’t forget to keep swiping. To borrow from the famous song “Din dhal jaaye, raat na jaaye”. Living alone is doable. Sleeping alone, not so much.

Almost on cue, the Japanese weighed in. A brand named Hizamakura came up with a product that will replace the whole “human element” that’s bringing the dating app game down. They’ve designed a pair of legs that can either be used as a pillow or an efficient prop for a horror prank. Hizamakura decided to call its product the Women Lap Pillow, presumably because it was less horrific than their working title, The Half-Woman. Take that, real love! (And points to Japanese for putting the “whyyy” in kawaii.)

The last in our exhaustive list of issues that need to be addressed is smell. There are various stinks plaguing society these days, and we’ve not even begun talking about intolerance. In Mumbai’s case, the smell is a unique mix of urine, latrine, sweat, and coriander. A Londoner was once asked how he feels about working in Mumbai. What does he dislike the most? His answer was surprising – people eating dal at their office desks, because the smell never leaves. And If you’ve taken a Rajdhani from Mumbai to Delhi, you’ll know exactly what he’s on about.

Our sense of smell is so honed now that we can tell who ordered the nachos with cheese while watching Dunkirk at a theatre. When we take kaali-peelis, we know the cabbie’s brand of oil, his caste, and his hometown from the smell of the seat covers.

This constant stench is offensive to one of our five human senses, but smelling bad has not been made illegal anywhere in the world. Yet. A US town did try to make it illegal to have body odour in parks and libraries, but people soon realised it was just an attempt to get rid of the homeless. In Rome, cooking smelly food is a criminal offence if it annoys your neighbour (Juhu follows the same principle but takes it a step further). But no country has really taken the lead in fighting this menace.

Except for, you guessed it, Japan. The Japanese have invented a robot dog called Hana-Chan that faints every time something stinks. Picture this: When a person is entering an aircraft, their feet are subject to close inspection by Hana-Chan. If Hana-Chan faints, you can’t enter.

Since we’re on such cordial first-name terms with the Japanese anyway, we should order a shipment of 100 million Hana-Chans, and place them everywhere. Because let’s face it, we can’t allow 2018 to stink as much.