Thursday, August 7, 2008


What is in a name? I might as well have named this post "toothpaste" or "shampoo". However, "Soap" occurred to me first and yes! I am talking about personal hygiene in general; perspiration and breath in specific.

Now, it gets murkier as I start to put down my thoughts. This is a very sensitive subject especially in India where one takes offense to comments about odour.

There are several reasons for body odour and foul breath. Most common, oft ignored is unclean clothes and non-usage of a tongue cleaner. Others include, but are not limited to, consumption of pungent food, alcohol, tobacco, metabolic problems, and medication. Also less known is the usage of specific clothing material, like polyester, that cause sweat and discomfort leading to stress and thereby odour.

More often than not, people do not even realize what this fuss is all about. Long time ago, I pointed out bad breath to a friend who took slight offense. The response I got was, "Is it that bad?" and then a puff on the hand to verify this and a subsequent, "my mum used to tell me, but I ignored as she nags me about everything that is even slightly unclean!" Ironically this is one of my closest friends. Just imagine how someone who is not that close to you would react in such a situation. No one would like to take the risk to tell someone about body odour or bad breath. They would rather go through the day bearing the bad breath and odour of their co-workers or friends and then come back to meet the same people next day.

There are people who use deodorants and chewing gum ignoring the fact that this is just a way to mask the odours. They continue to do so everyday not realizing the fact that this is not what personal hygiene is about.

But there must be a solution to this problem. There has to be a way to make people understand that masking the odour using deodorants and gum is not the necessary solution.

Bathing two times a day, washing every bit of used clothing, good eating and working out habits, brushing two times a day give a clean and fresh feeling. The solution is to imbibe these habits from childhood. Then, how would we make people realize that this is not a neighbour's problem. It is every individual's charge to adhere to cleanliness of self and surroundings and make this life God has given us a pleasant journey.