Unhygienic food and immunity

I was in Pakistan couple of weeks ago and there was a picture in Daily Jang on the last page which showed school kids eating ice lollies after school from a street vendor. The caption of the picture was something along the lines of “the kids are eating unhygienic food right outside school and the government is not doing anything about it”.

I wondered what role does the esteemed newspaper expect the government to play. When the government itself cannot supply clean water to the people, how can it expect the poor vendor to make ice lollies in filtered, boiled, purified Nestle / Aquafina water and still be able to sell it to kids at reasonable prices and margins.

Times have changed since we were kids. Though now I squirm at seeing a attendant handling food with his bare hands at a fast food joint, I didn’t grow up feeling this way. I think living in west and seeing everyone using plastic gloves to handle food has had its effect.

I remember buying gola gandas (crushed ice lolly) from vendor when I was a kid. He used to make it in front of us. He would grab the ice blocks and shred it in front of us manually using his hands, then he would collect the shredded ice in his hand and either put it in a glass or around a stick, all the while using his bare hands; the same hands he used to push the cart, wipe his sweat, handle his privates for urinating at some wall I presume (there weren’t many public toilets in those times).

Then there was the chat wala who used to serve chat in the plates he brought with him. He used to have two buckets of water dangling in his cart. The dirty plates that we used to return to him after eating, he would first dip in the first bucket in which water had become murky for being the first rinsing bucket. He would then dip it in the second bucket which had relatively cleaner water as all the leftover sauce and crumbles had been cleaned in the first bucket. If needed, he would use a brown towel which must have been white when he started off in the morning to dry the plates. The plates were ready to be served in to the next customer.

Regarding the fried stuff, my father used to constantly admonish us that don’t buy it from vendors as they use the same oil for months and it had probably turned black but we didn’t pay heed to him.

It is not that water was cleaner or there was no pollution in those times nor our clothes were washed in antigermicide fabric softener nor did we have these macleans, close up etc. From where I come from, we used luqmani manjan (which used to turn our mouth black) to clean our teeth, clothes were washed in Apna Sabun 101 and dirt was beaten off with a log, there were no safeguard soap, hand sanitizers and we played outside day and night, dirtying ourselves in the ground, sand, mud and each others germs, sweat and probably spit as well. Despite all this I don’t recall anyone falling with Hepatitis, severe flu or even food poisoning like the kids today. May be it was the unhygienic food that built our immunity.

Destinations : Innocent Deaths

Some items in the media regarding innocent deaths.

From Christian Science Monitor

A video released on the Internet Monday by WikiLeaks, a small nonprofit dedicated to publishing classified information from the US and other governments, appears to show the killing of two Iraqi journalists with Reuters and about nine other Iraqis in a Baghdad suburb in 2007 that is sharply at odds of the official US account of the incident.
Permission is given, a voice says “light them all up,” and the helicopter opens up on the group with its machine gun – apparently killing all but two of the men. One unarmed man who escaped the first salvo and ran across the street into an empty lot is also tracked and killed.

For further details, go to Collateral Murder. Large number of resources are available on the site.

A friend of mine made the following comment on her facebook page after visiting the above website:

This is how American Soldiers kill ordinary citizens in Iraq – indiscriminately. The morons cannot tell the difference between RPGs, AK47s and cameras. When they kill people, they also take pride in killing the rescuers and call them “dead bastards”

What I find more insane is that on the youtube, there are ordinary American commenters who are happy that US pilots “fucking owned” the dead Iraqi journalists and many actually support the war, occupation and brutal murder of innocent people on daily basis.

From New York Times

KABUL, Afghanistan — After initially denying involvement or any cover-up in the deaths of three Afghan women during a badly bungled American Special Operations assault in February, the American-led military command in Kabul admitted late on Sunday that its forces had, in fact, killed the women during the nighttime raid.

The admission immediately raised questions about what really happened during the Feb. 12 operation — and what falsehoods followed — including a new report that Special Operations forces dug bullets out of the bodies of the women to hide the true nature of their deaths.


From Talking Points Memo

In a stark assessment of shootings of locals by US troops at checkpoints in Afghanistan, Gen. Stanley McChrystal said in little-noticed comments last month that during his time as commander there, “We’ve shot an amazing number of people and killed a number and, to my knowledge, none has proven to have been a real threat to the force.”


Now to Pakistan. Robert Fisk in The Independent

A young Peshawar journalist sits beside me, talking in a subdued but angry way, as if someone is listening to us, about the pilotless American aircraft which now slaughter by the score – or the four score – along the Afghanistan border. “I was in Damadola when the drones came. They killed more than 80 teenagers – all students – and, yes they were learning the Koran, and the madrasah, the Islamic school, was run by a Taliban commander. But 80! Many of them came from Bajaur, which would be attacked later. Their parents came afterwards, all their mothers were there, but the bodies were in pieces. There were so many children, some as young as 12. We didn’t know how to fit them together.”

The reporter – no name, of course, because he still has to work in Peshawar – was in part of the Bajaur tribal area, to cover negotiations between the government and the Taliban. “The drones stayed around for about half an hour, watching,” he says. “Then two Pakistani helicopter gunships came over. Later, the government said the helicopters did the attack. But it was the drones.”

From Reuters

New York-based Human Rights Watch said it had briefed U.S. State Department and congressional officials about mounting evidence of more than 200 summary executions in Swat Valley in the past eight months of suspected Taliban sympathizers.

Pakistan’s army denied the group’s accusations of abuse in Swat, home to about 1.3 million people and the site of a much-lauded military operation last year to take back the former Taliban stronghold.