Forgive me, this photo is disgusting

Nothing a good teeth brushing couldn't fix

Nothing a good teeth brushing couldn't fix

Cringe. I do when I see this photo, and I was there. Hell, it’s my own mouth.

This is the aftermath of paan, a wonderful Indian treat. It consists of areca nut, tobacco and sometimes spices or paste wrapped up in a betel leaf. The resulting little triangle of goodness goes into your mouth where you chew it, suck on it, tuck it into your cheek and slowly spit it out.

It’s a bad habit and unhealthy, but intense and wonderful. The nut allegedly gives a mild buzz, but that could also just be the tobacco.

Every now and then across India, you’ll find a guttercornerwalltrainplatform that is colored blood-red from (mostly) old men chewing and then expectorating paan. I indulge every once in a while (it’s been four years now), as I did last night after a good meal of tandoori chicken and rice.

There is also mitai paan, which is sweet, often contains candy, fruits and fennel. Women and children and non-crusty men will chew and swallow this. No spitting involved.

Admittedly, most Indians do not chew paan and many find the practice unsavory.

The old guys who chew tobacco paan incessantly rot their teeth and stain their mouths red. They are classic Indian Uncles. I thankfully brushed my teeth back to a healthy dull white in a couple minutes.

Not, however, before taking the photo.

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7 Responses to “Forgive me, this photo is disgusting”

  1. Royal Says:
    October 26th, 2009 at 10:17 am

    Perhaps a great time to embrace the practice of flossing!

  2. Adam Jadhav Says:
    October 26th, 2009 at 11:09 am

    You know how I feel about flossing. I tried again a couple times when we were roommates. I’m sticking to brushing vigorously and regularly.

  3. Esmi Says:
    April 19th, 2010 at 1:57 am

    Very interesting! I decided to Google ”paan teeth” on image after reading Aravind Adiga’s book, The White Tiger, for the first time (great read, by the way). The book’s set in modern India, and they just mention so much about “pann”, and spitting out the red juice, etc,.. I had to look it up!

  4. ADAM JADHAV » Blog Archive » Ok, this is just gross Says:
    April 19th, 2010 at 9:17 am

    [...] Joel was visiting last month, he and I had a little love affair with paan. Normally, it’s a special treat for me — because I know it’s so gross — and I have [...]

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