Aasha Mehreen Amin
They say you know when you're in the 'old fogey' category when a single unusual movement such as trying to scratch the middle of your back, sprains your torso resulting in acute pain that may require months to repair, if at all. I don't remember who 'they' are but am sure someone did say something like that. That's another sign of 'old fogeyness' - when you say someone said something and you can't remember who said it or even what exactly they said. But in short, pain is a telltale sign of aging especially when it evolves into multiple types like a vicious Hydra, through the tips of your fingers, in a knot in the middle of the shoulder, in your eyebrows, the tip of your nose, your earlobes... Accompanied by this kind of pain is of course the constant complaining one is prone to do to whoever is present and willing or under duress, to listen. For such ailing individuals who can't be bothered to go to a doctor (no time and don't trust 'em) and reluctant to take painkillers ('they are too addictive') the only way to get them to stop their incessant whining is hand them with any one of those all-solution 'magic' potions sold by the innovative salesmen who scream out their lungs and use some form of rap to lure their customers. These days they've simplified their marketing by just putting on the tape recorder at full volume and just sitting at their stalls making their sales.
I do not know whether it was out of concern or sheer exasperation that a colleague of mine who happens to sit by the window suddenly screamed excitedly that my doctor was here. Surprised I looked up and with a straight face he pointed out to the window from where that repetitive, grating rap could be heard, announcing the benefits of some wondrous 'Panda Magic' that would cure all ailments and more importantly, cure all forms of pain. Needless to say I was not amused.
Later, however, another colleague brought me a few samples of these potions and while I am not sure about their 'powers of healing' the claims were nevertheless very intriguing.
'Panda Magic' for instance is a 'dental scelling lotion and an 'anti-plack' formula that 'cleanses all so shorts of spots on teeth, stops pain in teeth, prevents bleeding coming out of pus, irritating teeth and removes stone from teeth and bad smell from mouth'. So who needs dentists and Listerine when you have 'Panda magic'? The only thing I found a bit worrying though, was that they did not mention the ingredients of this magical potion and I do fervently hope there are no Panda parts in it.
Then there is the more straightforward 'CHINA PAIN STOP' lotion; the packet instructs that this be used 'only for pain' and 'not site affect your physical function'. The lotion that comes all the way from China er, actually Shonir Akra Jatrabari, promises to relieve any kind of pain in any part of the body. I was so enthused that I did try some on my temples during a particularly bad headache episode and while the pain did not exactly subside, the strong smell of it did distract me enough to forget about it for a while. Except when I was called to meet some foreign guests who I could swear kind of wrinkled their noses despite the gallons of perfume I had put to camouflage the rather overpowering 'fragrance'.
Speaking of overpowering smells, it is great relief to know that I hadn't used 'China Dhol Malam' (balm) made by the same company which calls itself Paynora, which, apart from claiming to cure every single unmentionable ailment -- khujli, Pachra, Daud, Eczema and Chulkani (hard to translate, but something like 'all the embarrassing itching skin diseases you would never admit to having').
Aging and Pain are like Romeo and Juliet, they just can't stay without each other and till death will do them part. So those in this exalted category will try anything to separate the two, even if it means random, dubious potions off the streets.
Oh by the way, I just got a jar of some Vaporub bum.
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