You guys in SA have it so easy! No worries at all. Walking down mint road in Foodsburg, you’re likely to find a paan-dukaan (little kiosk selling betel leaf) and all the goodies so u can get paan-walla (dude who sells the stuff) to make it as u like it! I’m sure killa-bah will be able to elaborate on how a certain sector in the community enjoy this delicacy after meals at weddings too.
In the sub-continent, it’s not uncommon to be walking in a stairwell or alleyway and finding a previously white wall with murderous splatterings of red – making you wonder if the slasher from the horror flick you watched the night before had been in the neighbourhood and forgot to call the cleaners after him! And then all of a sudden, you hear a blood-curdling sound – gut-wrenching (or rather gut-wretching). You cringe, and know that you should run for your life! And then with one more khhhhhhhghhhhhhh sound, you know that from the deep recesses of someone’s internal organs, a glob has been formed and it’s begun its journey, gaining weight and force along the way. From the moment you hear that sound, you know you only have about 3 milliseconds to run a mile and you’re wishing you had the testosterone levels of Semenya! But unfortunately, your shirt gets caught in a bind holding you back and you become witness to glob taking flight like the concord and landing smack-bang 3 centimetres from you, colourfully decorating the cobblestones! Whew! Talk about a close call! You look up and you see this uncle with a rooi baard (red beard) and all along you thought it was mendhi (henna) he was using to cover the grey! Meanwhile paan-drool wasn’t getting beyond his fist length!
I’m grateful that in some countries, the sale of the betel leaf and all its condiments are banned and considered as close to drug use as qat (khat).
But it so happened one fine day in Khaleejistan* that a young desi man decided to go back to his roots and open his paan dukaan. Some kids in the neighbourhood were curious and passers-by wondered what wares the new sweet vendor had. Then doom daraka doom (special shah rukh khan sound effects) the police pounced!
Two days later, this is what I found published in the papers:
Paan’ sellers arrested
The Security Department has arrested three Asians for selling ‘paan’ (betel leaf mixed with areca nut and tobacco for chewing) which is banned in Khaleejistan*. The department, with the co-operation from the Criminal Investigation Department, arrested them following complaints from the director of a school that some students were eating paan sold by a store nearby.
After a thorough investigation, the security department arrested the suspects red-handed and seized the stock. Action will be taken against them, the department said. The Security Department director appreciated the school director’ keenness in keeping youngsters away from harm and unhealthy lifestyle.
* name of country has been adapted
Well of course they were caught “red” handed and probably red-mouthed too!
Don’t ya just love how the dudes have to pose with their loot and get to appear as celebrities in the papers! Imagine calling home to paanistan – Ma, I’m famous (read in south asian accent and waddle head from side to side)