good motoring
Inhaling infection
H. Kishie Singh

My friend Pradip was stopped at a police naka recently and asked to take a breathalyser test. The mouthpiece that he had to put into his mouth to blow was used by the previous person, and the person before him, and the person before him for the breathalyser test. Pradip refused saying that the mouthpiece was dirty and had been used by many drivers and he would not put it in his mouth.

Obligingly, the constable produced another mouthpiece from his grubby pocket, wiped it with his grubby thumb and fore finger and said, "Here use this!" Pradip refused again.

"This is also a used piece. I will not put it in my mouth", he repeated.

"OK", said the constable, "Dur sey phook mar do!" (Blow from a distance).

This would have been inconclusive and an exercise in futility. Pradip refused again saying it would not work.

The constable informed his superior whose reaction was, "He has to be drunk to refuse. Take a video and photographs. We must have proof of him refusing!"

A police-appointed warden stood in the background. These shenanigans were of no concern to him. Now, Pradip is a law-abiding citizen and a good member of society. He is also a vegetarian and a teetotaller. He was sure he would not fail the breathalyser test. The reason he refused was that he was afraid of the health problems that could arise from such a cavaliar operation. Consider this: Tuberculosis is a highly communicable disease.

If a tuberculosis patient has used a mouthpiece, any subsequent user is in dire straights. Any intelligent citizen is well within his rights to refuse this test which is being conducted under unhygienic conditions.

The second problem could be a lot more dangerous and life-threatening. We see these warnings on TV, hear it on the radio, read it in the papers. Do not share razor blades, syringes and other personal items. It is a sure way to get AIDS. A reused mouthpiece falls into the ‘beware’ category, same as razor blades and syringes. Here is why. Bleeding gums is a common enough problem. If a person with a bleeding gum problem has a communicable disease, and another person with bleeding gums uses the same mouthpiece, the disease is sure to be transferred.

When conducting the breathalyser test, the mouthpiece, dually sterilised, should come wrapped in cellophane, like the one-time-use, disposable syringe. Repeat one-time-use only. One single mouthpiece cannot be used for a community programme.

We should learn a lesson from the wisdom of the elders. When the majlis met, a hookah was placed in the middle of the group and the pipe was passed around. However, every guest had his own personal mouthpiece, probably gold inlaid, sterling silver or ivory. They knew everything about hygiene. Happy Motoring!