India welcomes clean people

"We will now begin a disinfectant spray. This is government regulations."

I straightened from the slumped position in my seat that I had gradually sunk into during the flight connection from Hong Kong to Delhi. Sprayed?! What was the implication here? I had showered that morning! Admittedly, given the length of the flight from Sapporo and the different time zones, 'that morning' was a slightly vague concept but I was clean! Probably.

(I was to learn later that no one would think this was true, since there was a belief in India that people from cold countries didn't bother washing nearly as much as they should.)

Flight attendants started to walk down the aisles holding three smoking canisters that resembled the cockroach bomb I had used in my apartment in New York. This unfortunate analogy didn't help my feeling of affrontation. The smell from the smoke was sickly sweet and those with contact lenses were advised to close their eyes. I coughed.

It amused me that such precautions were necessary for India; a country whose big cities battled against congested traffic and pollution. In fact, it seemed more the sort of precaution that Japan might introduce. I hoped no one suggested it to them.

Oddly, the same de-roaching process was repeated on the way out. Seemingly, not only was it forbidden to remove the currency from the country but also any top secret germs you might have stolen while in residence.

However, for now it was over and with a bump, we had landed in India. One plane of squeaky clean passengers safe for admission.