Sunday, November 2, 2008

On Flatulence, Flatulaters and the Flatulating Bengali

First…..the cow;

“Bovine flatulence is a source of greenhouse gas and contributes largely to the greenhouse effect!”…
“The third biggest greenhouse gas, methane, is 23 times more effective at trapping heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide; even though methane emissions are far below those of carbon dioxide, it still accounts for an impressive 4-9% of global warming. Argentina is a major methane producer; although the country produces a fair bit of carbon dioxide, methane counts for a large part of their greenhouse gas emissions.
Some of this comes from landfills, coal mines, and other sources, but more than 30% of the country's greenhouse gases are produced by the 55 million cows that comprise Argentina's impressive beef industry. Each of these cows produces between 200 and 300 gallons of gas per day, most of it in the form of farts.While Argentina can't afford to dismantle its impressive beef industry, it is exploring ways to reduce the noxious emissions of its cows.

One method is a natural diet of alfalfa and clover, which a researcher has noted would cut emissions by 25%. In the meantime, the country has outfitted many of its bovines with plastic tanks that enable it to collect and analyze the cows' emissions. If the whole reduction program fails, maybe Argentina could pursue a new form of renewable energy: cow-powered cars!...”(Courtesy

Then…..the dog;

“Although most dogs seem to enjoy the smell of a human flatus or fart, the reverse is rarely true. Dogs suffering from excessive flatulence (farting) can quickly pollute the air quality in a room. Although not harmful to human health, the smell is often horrific and can it create some embarrassing moments, especially when guests are around.
Instead of feeding your dog 1 or 2 portions of food per day, divide the daily ration into smaller portions and feed the dog more frequently.
Sometimes dogs eat too quickly because they fear their food will be taken away, so feed your dog in a quiet comfortable area.
Exercise the dog more frequently to stimulate its intestines.
Choose a premium brand of dog food that is highly digestible.
There are products on the market that can be added to dog food in order to reduce farting but these should only be used after consulting your veterinarian. Activated charcoal is often used in this regard and it does absorb the bad smelling gasses that cause bad flatulence. It must be used with caution and only occasionally however, since it can also rob the dog's body of the nutrients it is getting from its food.
It should be noted that although bad flatulence can be reduced, all dogs (just like all humans) experience daily flatulence and it should never be your intention to get your dog to stop farting altogether…..”

Some useful info nuggets..

  • The Canelos Indians of Ecuador are very afraid of their farts; they believe that when someone farts his soul escapes with the gas. In order to ensure that the soul doesn’t escape, a nearby person must hit the farter thrice on the bum after which the farter must prepare a feast.

  • A supermarket employee in Oregon made a co-worker so mad that he got sued. Tom Morgan sued his co-worker Randy Maresh. Apparently Randy would make it a point to pass gas every time he was close to Tom. He would go out of his way to get as close to Tom as possible and then let go. Randy’s lawyers argued that farting is a method of expressive behaviour and is therefore protected by the First Amendment of the US Constitution.

  • King Louis XIV of France believed that he was paying the highest of compliments to a person when he farted in their presence.

Finally….the Bengali;

If you are like me, you’re fascinated by the Bengali approach towards flatulation. The pew, the rip, the gale, the breeze, the cry of the imprisoned turd, the anal ahem, the wind-break, the butt-cussion, the grandpa, the honk, the poof, the poot, the pop, the silent killer, the poop hello, the stress release, the bum-lore, call it what you will, call it what you may, every Bengali worth his Pink Floyd cassettes, ‘alu-phulkopi’ (a potato-cauliflower combo class V ammo) and ‘Tipper’ joints will swear by his Harappan ancestors that there have been many an instance in his life when he has felt immense fulfillment at his ability to bring about a gastronomic acid-rain capable of annihilating a small town. A healthy sign.

Growing up in Bengali surroundings, travelling in packed buses, getting stuck in an elevator full of Bholas and Khokas risking one’s lungs and life, one can learn oodles about the Bengali’s unique outlook towards a fart.
You see, akin to the Bong attitude in general towards most things (as against Marwaris or Punjabis) like politics, economy, movies, life in general etc, Bongs like to be the loudest only at home turf, men and women alike. Outside, the Bong is just about as loud as an ant but do ask us if we give a Methane molecule’s worth what the world thinks of us, a particularly ear-splitting one amongst us has with roaring success farting the Tatas out, everybody else is chicken feed!
Where on one hand the sophisticated Bengali would politely hold it in or excuse himself politely from a luncheon or conference for a ‘walk in the garden’ (or for the artsy-fartsy, an ‘introspective stroll among the greens’), simpler folk either walk the path of uninhibited expression or resort to searing sarcasm. There is also the art of 'in-farting', a desperate yet safe measure; in farting is, when you hold the wind in for too long it starts blowing inside your system making your intestines rumble; only issue is that it's quite audible in relatively silent places. But of course, it's technically not a 'fart' so and it hardly smells so you're safe!
At a recent party hosted by a relative to celebrate the second birthday of his only child, a plump little boy. I got a taste of such sarcasm. Everybody kept surrounding the little toddler, bending down low to either squeeze his cheeks or cuddle him, some poked his stomach while others kept stuffing food into his mouth. When, all of a sudden people began to disperse, plates crashed and things fell and all the loving aunties and uncles ricocheted off the child as hurriedly and as graciously as was being possible of them at that point in time …
My question was answered immediately when a hideously sulphurous pong assailed my nostrils leaving me paralysed and blue in the face for a good few seconds! What had they been feeding the poor child? Later, when the crowd congregated again (following generous spraying of air-fresheners, opening every window in the house by the embarrassed hosts and the birthday boy put back in his room) I overheard an old lady chuckling and saying, “Bap-beta-e kamon meel dekho!”… (Like father, like son!!).

The cultured on the other hand have quite a sense of humour and stories (although often tastefully ill-timed) when things come to a fart, they’re quick to advice you to refer to Benjamin Franklin’s remedies on, ‘To The Royal Academy of Farting’ or if reading is not your thing, classics such as ‘Gone With The Wind’ or ‘Jack the Pooper’ for your pressing gas issues…
I have encountered worse; for instance my uncle’s favourite story of the famous king and his notoriously celebrated army which he loves to narrate irrespective of the company or occasion, feared far and wide in our family for causing unnecessary awkwardness and great shame.
The soldiers of the king were feared because they owned huge cannons that caused great noise and destruction.
What the enemies never knew was that there were, in reality no canons at all. The King’s soldiers, on the eve of battle, would gorge on cauliflower curry, milk, nuts and beans and they’d all compulsorily paint black circles on their buttocks to represent cannon nozzles. On the day of battle all the soldiers would line up along the coastline bending over, with their buttocks facing the oncoming enemy ships and on the instructions of the commander would let their colons wreak sonic havoc on their enemies which would cause the enemy ships either to run into each other or just sink…..

What happened couple of months back was the worst, the experience left me so harrowed I feel food pushing its way up my oesophagus every time I see a crowded bus these days. It was one of those well-known, peak of summer evenings in Kolkata when our car fell prey to Divine conspiracy and developed a nasty engine trouble. I, against my better judgement decided to take a local bus back home.
Usually every fraction of each inch in these buses are shoved with human bodies sliding and slithering on each other’s sweaty selves in the torrid heat, moreover, the way five people manage to accommodate themselves in a space meant for two is Ripley’s material. I on the other hand, by divine luck managed to find a seat for myself which I occupied happily. As the crowd began building up, the fresh air inside the bus began to leave as quickly and finally there came a point where there was a belly proceeding and receding behind my head, a criss-cross of arms going over my head with their respective armpits dangerously close-by and sundry crotches and bottoms here and there. I couldn’t move an inch. The timing was so impressive, as just when the thought of the horrifying possibility began to dawn on me someone actually did it, someone passed a silent one.
Eyeballs started moving, eyebrows began to rise and faces contorted. Within a short few seconds the whole bus started reeking like a mortuary. Inside, somebody or the other every now and then made a soft groan or let out a hoot. To top it all there was practically no oxygen and covering my nose wouldn’t help. As my head reeled like a top, my innards churned and the bile rose to my throat, the cruelty was unforgivable.
Then it came, from a kaku or jethu seated nearby, as if muttering to himself but meant for everybody’s ears especially the guilty one’s, he said, “O-baba! ke jano baayu bishakto koreche…dushon-er opor aaro dushon!” (Oh Daddy!! Somebody seems to have poisoned the air, pollution and more pollution!). Another voice said, “Pedo Gobindo”, (Pooper-Jack) and almost instantly a little girl started chanting over and over like a loop-machine, “aadli paadli dhain dhuin…..neemer kot kot paadli tui!”(Tiddlededee Tiddlededoo…what a rotten fart and it’s come from you!).

And then comes the nomenclature; I kid you not, I once knew a dude who farted on demand! Pull his finger, poke his belly, twist his ear, slap his cheek and he would immediately respond by letting one rip. And benevolent was his heart cause his brand was both loud and smelly so even the deaf could enjoy. The legendary, “Icchepedo” (Wish-farter) died a few years back becoming probably the only guy in the world who truly stank his way to the high heavens!Then there are the “padu-dadu”s (gaseous grandpas) or just the plain old “pedo”s and the likes.

For a noisy lot, a unique form of expression such as this has enjoyed a distinguished place from time immemorial and might I add, the same is in many circles, viewed as a rightful freedom of ‘expression’, thereby construed as being under Article 19 of the Constitution.
Besides, who can debate the widely employed justification, “Besh Korechi!” (Done it right!!) of the Flatulating Bengali?