Wednesday, August 06, 2003

Yeh Dil Maange Pesticides

I live in Delhi. People know it. People like my neighbourhood grocery shop owner. When I am looking for soap in the soap & detergent area. “Which soap, paaisaab?” he would ask, but only twice. He’s not stupid to ask for the third time. By now he understands that I would pick up the one with a red triangle on corner with yellow letters saying Soap Case worth 75 paise FREE. And when I do, he has that reassured look on his face that says: Paaisaab not an alien, but from sadda Delhi.

The wonder is that even people in places as far as Mumbai know I am from Delhi. This other time I bought a pack of sugar free gum there, the saleswoman knew I am from Delhi. She smiled and treated me as a guest when I wanted the free sugar. I am not going to tell you the cholesterol-free cooking oil incident.

The other day I bought mineral water from a supermarket. He did not give me the bacteria, though the bottle says it 100%. Anyway, back here in the capital we love the FREE in capital letters. If we buy a car, we get stereo FREE, buy one shoe get the other FREE, buy water, get diseases FREE.

That brings us to the latest news fresh out of a scientific laboratory. Delhi-based Centre for Science & Environment (CSE) has tested 12 major soft drink brands — from soft drinks majors PepsiCo and Coca Cola— and all tested positive for pesticides. According to the CSE, all samples contained a deadly cocktail of four extremely toxic pesticides and insecticides: Lindane, DDT, Malathion and Chloropyrifos.

That was so reassuring for cola-lovers like me. I always felt cheated because if you buy a Coke or Pepsi, you get a Coke or Pepsi. Nothing else. Nothing FREE. Even the bottle is audacious enough to not have that red-triangle-yellow-letters sticker. Now I feel much better. You buy colas and you get pesticides FREE. Not one but a cocktail of four. Cheers.

Here’s more. Farmers across the country are angry at the rising cost of pesticides. While cola prices are going down: 10-8-6-Paanch. Now I understand why one of the cola ads shows a Punjab farmer with cola bottles in his irrigation well. He’s just being smart. I keep it in the fridge and I’m going for one right now! Enjoy!

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