April 8, 2017


Can we imagine it in India or even in other countries that water is served to all guests from one glass or metal tumbler.  After the first guest drinks, the host will add some more to it to make it full and then pass it on to the next person without cleaning it and the next person will drink from the same tumbler which will contain some (जूठा} water and some newly added water.  This will continue with all the people sitting in the room.  But I saw this happening at Baghdad in good families when I was teaching there at the University of Baghdad. In India, we just cannot stand it.  Only very intimately related persons like mother and child will do it.  But even that is discouraged and not considered hygienic.

Various dishes in Iraqi food
               But in Baghdad this was a common practice at homes.  This was done even at restaurants.  The waiter will come with a big jug full of water but he will be having only one tumbler and all on the table will drink water from that single tumbler.

               There was a restaurant selling grilled chicken in the street where we used to live.  We were quite frequent visitors to this restaurant.  When my wife and my two daughters saw the water being brought for all of us in a single tumbler for all of us, they were greatly astonished.  I requested the waiter to get us three more tumblers.  The waiter, an Egyptian person, brought three more tumblers but was somewhat confused and a bit unhappy too over our request.  Later he started knowing us and would always bring four tumblers for us without our asking.
 Baghdad of good old days

               At the College, there were many food kiosks selling hamburgers and some other things.  Here at the kiosk water will be put in a big one litre old glass jar and all the students will continue drinking water from the same jar.  I presume that the kiosk owner must be cleaning it at the end of the day.
Baghdad of today - what a sad transformation

               It is probably the culture of Iraqi people.  They did not consider it bad.  I was also told once that doing that strengthens the bondage among persons. It was not that these people were not educated or unaware of hygiene or could not afford to buy more tumblers.  They just did not consider it bad and had been doing it since birth.

               So there seems to be some truth in the adage, “nothing is good or bad, only publicity makes it so”.

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