“World Spitathon Champs”
Indians might have the strongest lungs on the planet. Not because of any genetic reasons but because of the exercise that they make their lungs undergo by firing spit missiles every couple of minutes. Across the country we have great exponents of this art, hard at work on every street. While walking, driving, through cars, buses and every other vehicle you will find spit missiles fired with great dexterity and regularity. Although the best performances come from tobacco consumers, even those who are not, often put in scintillating performances.
One of the reasons why this art thrives in India, is the conducive environment. Pollution in the cities ensures that most are suffering from cold, cough and throat problems, so firing spit missiles comes very naturally to them. Practising the art all day long can also then be categorised as a health related exercise. Widespread tobacco consumption also works as a great stimulant to participate in the sport in both the urban and rural areas.
Occasionally the government, social organisations and even movies like ‘Lage Raho Munnabhai‘ play spoilsport and try to discourage people from practising the sport. However in spite of these minor hurdles it continues to flourish in India. Even our cricketers, despite their global lifestyle haven’t lost touch with their roots and are often caught on camera trying out their hand or rather mouth at the great art. Youngsters are quick to pick up not just cricketing skills but even this expertise from our men in blue. Discrimination amongst the sexes is a much debated subject in sport; however that isn’t true when it comes to the sport of spitting on the streets. Both men and women are just as competent and get equal opportunities.
In my effort to research this great art further, I spoke to some promising spitters in Pune about why they spit on the streets and how they began. The reasons I got ranged from “cough problems first got me interested in the sport and I have been hooked since” to “it’s fun and the man thing to do“. Some just couldn’t come to terms with the question. Their expression suggested that they thought my question was as ridiculous as “why do you eat everyday?“. When I asked if these prolific spitters also practised at home, most complained that modern buildings just do not have necessary provisions or ambiance. When I asked about a common belief that practitioners of this sport are inconsiderate and inconvenience others, the spitters were unanimous in saying that this was unfair of society. They asked “If a cricketer hits a sixer that also knocks out a spectator, don’t we still applaud; so why blame a spitter who not just hits his target but also the clothes of bystanders?”
Considering the history and tradition of this skill and the fact that it continues to thrive and prosper in India, one would think that India is best suited to conduct the first World Spitathons. The rules are simple, spit a glass of coloured water as far as possible. For best results, the competition arena should have traffic signals installed, as for some unknown reason a red light always induces “Aaaak Thuuus” all around. Once the field gets really competitive, we could see research on what kind of liquid gets you the most distance, etc. Adidas and Nike might even start selling special sports gear that optimises athlete posture, trajectory and performance. Like Athens is considered the home of the Olympics, considering the talent in the city, Pune could very well be the home of the Spitathons. Since most Indians practise the sport, it is sure to get huge viewership. Millions in sponsor money will flow in, particularly from the tobacco companies. Imagine the world champ “M S Spithoni” on TV all day in ads for Spitichand mineral water.
Considering the cultural advantage we enjoy, at least in the initial years the world spitathon champs will be Indians. The Chinese would probably soon create super spitters who will beat us silly, but for a short period we can bask in the glory of being world champs.
The only major hurdle to the growth of the sport are a handful of people who have different notions of cleanliness and resent good old Indian habits like spitting every 30 seconds on the nearest public property available. Not only do these people never spit on the streets but they actually have the audacity to asks others to give up the habit. Stringent measures are necessary to control this lot. So anytime one encounters such a person with contradictory opinion to the masses, he should be beaten up or at least humiliated in public. Fortunately all groups performing such acts of public beating, humiliation or destruction enjoy automatic immunity in India.
So now that you have been initiated in the ‘Spitathons’, keep aside this paper and fire your first spit missiles. Ensure that you are spitting on public property as that’s the basic rule of the sport. Anything beyond 5 feet is good. You never know, you might just become the first spitathon champion of the world.
(Published as “World Spitathon Champs” on 26th Jan 08 in my fortnightly column for the Maharashtra Herald)