It doesn't take much to excite people. Especially when everything has gotten boring - IPL (but we've discussed that already), Politics and Elections (The long weekend has taken precedence for most people. As for me, I voted in the last LS elections. Yawn.), terrorism (even the Bombay HC thinks the 26/11 case should just be transferred out of sight and more importantly, out of traffic). Now, we have a new source of entertainment, especially for the hypochondriacs amongst us - swine flu!
The name provokes an initial humorous reaction, which is understandable. In the words of my friend Gaugau: "All sentences ending with "...when pigs fly" should now be coming true - because swine flu!" Anyway, am sure there are people stocking up on the medication which has been front paged in all major newspapers this morning. This just shows that the media can mess up everyone's happiness, be you a concerned-for-your-health citizen or a hostage safely (or so you think) hidden under a bed in the Taj. I'm pretty sure that by the time there is an outbreak (what are the chances of an epidemic not hitting India?) there will be a shortage of the antidote, having been hoarded by hypochondriacs and mommies concerned over their toddler's snifflings (because it couldn't have anything to do with the ice gola and the central air conditioning, can it?).
Poor piggies. Why are diseases which usually target animals suddenly mutating and wreaking havoc upon us homo sapiens? Do they get bored? ("I'm tired of pork tonight, honey. Let's go out for dinner.")
I don't know how much pork is consumed in India, but quite a few communities enjoy the "other white meat" (yes!) - Coorgis (the Pork Curry has to be tasted to be believed), Malyalis, our friends in the north east (sorry for generalizing, there) and of course, my Goa.
Goa's catholic community sees a lot of variety in Pork Cooking. There's the famous Sorpotel which I have never had the guts to try - it contains pig's blood as a secret ingredient, in some recipe books. Recently I was at a wedding where it was on the buffet display, but I couldn't get myself to spoon it onto my plate. How brahmin of me.
The ET claims that more than a 100 pigs have died in piggeries across the State since the breakout of the Flu. My brahminical upbringing is astounded. Pigs are raised in piggeries? In Goa, pigs are on the road. You'll see fat sows with their little brood of piglets, all black as soot, marching about, eating unmentionables on the ground. Particularly rabid relatives would tell me as a child - "Catholics eat shit! You know why? Because they eat pigs! And what do pigs eat?".
Take a wild guess.
So my parents, having been indoctrinated as such, would happily eat spare ribs in New York but when it came to indigenous produce, it was a different story altogether.
Mom and Dad do to visit a Roman Catholic friend and his wife in Brooklyn, who has prepared a scrumptious feast for their party. The piece de resistance was the sausage pulao, which everyone eyed greedily.
After serving the guests and enjoying the praise, Aunty lets everyone know that secret of the pulao was in the sausage:
"I got them from Goa!"
Before my parent's eyes, visions of scavenger pigs floated by, followed by the familiar view of a chain of sausages, hung out to dry on the porch of an old Portuguese house, covered with flies.
My Dad put his fork down. My Mom, being the ultimate polite guest, finished her plate and later lost her dinner in the toilet bowl.
Anyway, Chorizo, or the Goan spiced sausages, are still in my good books. I admit to loving a fix of chorizo-pao whenever I get the chance. My mom gives me the dirts everytime I stow away a packet in my luggage.
"You're such a kiristao" she says, and if you can figure out the pronunciation you can probably figure out what she means.
Of course now there are professionally manufactured, packed and marketed sausages which is probably where the piggeries come in. And it's good. And let's not forget Salami, Bacon, Pork Chops and Spare RIbs.
But pigs have had it pretty bad even outside GSB households. The Bible has a story of the sins of a man which were absorbed from him and expelled into a pig. Hence, the Old Testament bans eating of Pork, and apparently that is why communities like Muslims and Orthodox Jews refrain from eating Pork. The New testament allows for eating anything "in the name of God".
Hindus aren't so bothered with the Pig. Lots of people told me, as a Child, that eating Pork was not allowed. That was before we learnt to raise an eyebrow and ask "Oh yeah? By whom?".
However, the swine flu shall now unite all communities, against the Rind. Just like Mad Cow made everyone Hindu and Bird Flu made everyone... umm... chicken friendly (no it didn't - the KFC Bucket was at the concessional rate of 150 bucks, and we were all on grass.)
Or maybe this is some ploy to make us all veggie?