It's been a month now since Union Health Minister Dr Ramadoss's anti-smoking ban was launched, and, as a smoker, I want to thank him from the bottom of my charred lungs. My health has improved drastically ever since I quit. No, not quit smoking, but quit my job. Who wants to work in an office anymore? I don't fancy standing out on the streets while puffing furiously and being mistaken for a you-know-what! And guess what, ever since I quit working, I feel so much the better for it. No more stress, no more acidity attacks, no more late nights and sleep deprivation, no more pulling a muscle or twisting my slender ankle in my haste to autograph the office muster. As the exuberant James Brown song goes, ‘I feel good!'
I've quit visiting pubs and restaurants, too. Who wants to step out periodically for a smoke and be mistaken for a you-know-what? I hate warm beer and cold food, besides. The nicest part is, ever since I've stayed away from pubs and restaurants, I haven't consumed any rancid peanuts, stale onions, dodgy mint chutney, or unhygienic, re-heated food. I am germ-free now. Yay! Perhaps Ramadoss should ban offices and restaurants too. They are, as I've recently discovered, gravely injurious to our health.
So, as you may have gathered, I'm all for the smoking ban. Apart from not feeling guilty about endangering other people's lives, it's given me a new zest for life. But I do feel an overpowering urge to rap Dr Ramadoss's knuckles (gently, of course) for being a Male Chauvinist Pig. In a recent interview he said in a horrified manner, ‘On weekends in cities like Bangalore and Chennai even women are going on smoking and drinking binges. It's a dangerous trend.' Hello, does he think that only Indian men were born with the right to have dirty, disgusting habits? Equality for all is what the Indian Constitution clearly states, right?
What I wonder is this: If he admitted he's aware that some Indian women do smoke, why has he not made provisions for them to have a safe smoking environment , instead of throwing them out on the streets and letting them be mistaken for you-know-whats? Indian men are not like western men. Consider this: A month ago, a German woman was raped in Rajasthan when she stepped outside her hotel for a smoke. Consider this too: Your daughter may be smoking on the sly and she may not shy away from doing it on the streets. Uh oh, time to get in touch with Renuka Chowdhury, Union minister for women and child development!
Anyway, back to me. To celebrate my newly acquired robust health, I've been smoking a contemplative cigarette or two and wondering how I can repay Dr Ramadoss for putting me in such great shape. I was gazing fondly at his photograph while blowing smoke rings, and then, inspiration struck. He has, I noticed to my astonishment, become a bit, um, how do I put this politely, considering that the word ‘Hon'ble' precedes his name? Okay, well, erm, pudgier than before. Not Appu yet, but getting there.
I showed his photograph to my father for confirmation. He snorted contemptuously and
said, ‘The man's just puffed up with self-importance. May he burst!' My mother glanced curiously at the photograph and delivered her verdict with a deep sigh: ‘Oh dear, he really should cut out sugar and ghee.'
So, fellow citizens, if you ever catch the good Dr Ramadoss eating sweeties in public, do fine him
Rs 200. Heck, do you know how many Indians suffer from diabetes? And if you catch him eating fried stuff or greasy parathas or sneakily dousing his rice with artery-clogging ghee, call the cops or fine him Rs 1200, will you? It's okay, we're all allowed to reprimand each other nowdays-Ramadoss himself gave us the permission to do so, remember?
Please do keep an eye on him- he's a good-hearted chap and we must ensure that he literally stays that way. Come on, he's looking after us so well, it's only fair to repay him in kind.