There’s been quite in stir in India lately due to an Indian official’s comments regarding standards of hygiene (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/25/world/asia/25india.html?scp=1&sq=&st=nyt). Yes, the buildup to the Commonwealth Games has been a disaster but apparently this guy went too far by implying that Indian hygienic standards are lower than those of people from other nations. To be fair, I didn’t live in India or visit many people’s homes so I can’t comment on private hygiene. In public however, India is just plain filthy. There’s rubbish, cow dung, and flies nearly everywhere. It was the first thing I noticed when I crossed the Nepal – India border. In my opinion, this is strongly associated with the typical Indian citizen’s views on hygiene and cleanliness. Sure, you may keep your home clean, but why do you pee and throw your rubbish out onto the street? Doesn’t the smell and the ever present piles of rubbish bother you?
For me, the issue of hygiene and cleanliness became more than clear when I left India for Thailand. Thailand is an immaculately clean place mostly because it’s a part of the culture to keep things clean. I’m staying in a jungle hut which is cleaner than many of the brick-and-mortar places I stayed in India. Call it post-India syndrome or whatever, but I’m still astonished at how clean things are in Thailand compared to the filth I routinely witnessed in India.