14 July, 2008
Right, so I was riding to office as usual, except it was close to seven in the evening. There's a lot of farmland that I ride past if I take a shortcut, which I did. Now, near one such farm appearing to grow what was tobacco (Coimbatore does have a few small farmers cultivating tobacco as a seasonal crop, but very limited amounts as the major crops are almost always sugarcane, paddy, bananas, coconuts and maize), I saw what was a huge bonfire with a lot of smoke coming from it outside the huts of the peasants who work on that farm. On going closer it smelt familiar, yet I couldn't put my finger on the smell. When I was upon the fire I recognised that one of the peasants was stoking it, adding more leaves into it. Tobacco leaves. When I asked him about the leaves with a look of stupendous amazement, he said green 'baccy leaves are great mosquito repellents! I didn't hang around to argue that since the whole village got high this way, a few mosquito bites wouldn't go noticed. No sir, not at all. This would be a guy who, despite being nearly at the lower end of the financial strata of society, would still have access to newspapers at his local chai and grocery store. Don't vernacular newspapers carry stuff such as how tobacco is harmful to health?