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“We spit when we’re bored, tired or angry. We spit just because”: the struggle to end public spitting in India

  • Aparna Alluri
  • BBC News, Delhi

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image source, Getty Images

Caption,

In Mumbai they use street graffiti to raise awareness about the dangers of spitting in public.

Earlier this year, Raja and Priti Narasimhan set off on a road trip in India armed with a message: stop spitting in public. The couple carried a loudspeaker and shouted their message from inside a car covered in anti-spitting slogans.

If you have spent any time in India, you already know what the Narasimhans are up against. Saliva adorns the streets. Sometimes simple and abundant, sometimes stained blood red from chewing betel nut mixed with tobacco, or buyo, it decorates simple walls and mighty buildings alike. It even threatens the historic Howrah Bridge in the city of Calcutta.

The Narasimhans travel the country in order to protect its streets, buildings and bridges from spitters. They live in the city of Pune and have been self-proclaimed warriors against the scourge of spitting since 2010.

Workshops, online and offline campaigns, cleanup efforts with local municipalities – they’ve done it all. Once, Raja says, they painted over buyo stains on a wall at the Pune railway station only for people to start spitting on it again three days later.

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