I've always been a hygiene conscious person right from my childhood. People who know me almost find it amusing that I can never eat without washing my hands - even if it means using a little bit of drinking water from a water bottle. I remember one of my friends calling me to give "good news" when hand-sanitizers were launched in India "Dude - this will save some drinking water next time we are out". While my need to wash hands may be part of good hygiene, it is definitely more a psychological need!
Same applies to my being conscious about where I would eat etc. The only exceptions I have made are my travels, treks and funnily if I'm in Parle where I grew up (it's almost like dirt there on the street food is familiar and cannot harm me!!!!).
For a long time in my life I enjoyed the food served on Mumbai-Pune trains and especially the "cutless" - frequent travellers would know that for some strange reason cutlets would be pronounced like that!! As the time passed by my train journeys stopped altogether for last few years. Due to my work, my Pune Mumbai travel became almost a weekly affair and of course always by the road - the Express highway connecting the two cities.
This week I finally got fed up of Express Highway and decided to take the train. I boarded the "Deccan Queen" which departed sharp on time from Pune. As I settled in my seat, a fellow in the railways uniform asked me if I would like to order some breakfast which I politely declined - of course for hygiene reasons! I guess over the period, I've excluded my work related travels from the hygiene exception list :-)
As the journey began, gentleman sitting next to me started enjoying his journey - first he had his tea - then wiped his hands with his handkerchief and started enjoying his food one item after other as it came by. The man was in his sixties and did exactly what I would do earlier on my train journeys between Pune and Mumbai! I did my best not to look at him - I guess it's odd to stare at someone enjoying his food! I was distinctly uncomfortable and I thought my feelings stemmed from my concern about the health and hygiene of the old man. But the man looked at peace and was enjoying his journey. I could not understand why would I feel so concerned about a man whom I did not know. It is then I realised that my feelings had nothing noble about it - it was just pure envy - envy that someone could still enjoy what you enjoyed once upon a time!! Once realised, only right thing then to do was order my breakfast! As I started eating my breakfast - first little hesitantly and then with a supreme bliss my emotions settled down. World that now looked more familiar lulled me into my nap!
I guess the line between being conscious about something and being hyper is very thin!! You don't even realise when you cross it, intellectualise about it and start being plain stupid!!
23rd September 2015