Machchar Maarna

A total nonsense post. Please leave your brain at home.

Nowadays, our household has a new favourite pastime: machchar maarna (killing mosquitoes).

You might ask what’s so new about this; after all, this has been our pastime ever since. When Alexander the Great/Mahmud of Ghazi/Mughals/Sher Shah Suri came to invade us, we were busy swatting mosquitoes, confident they wouldn’t be able to cross the river. Guess what, they all did. I always did believe Alexander didn’t call us Idiots, instead of Indians, out of pity.

When the British came, we were too busy swatting mosquitoes to be bothered about signing over our country to them. And so busy are the government officers swatting mosquitoes, it’s tough to slip in actual work in between.

In fact, machchar maarna is a Hindi phrase for being extremely busy. Too much only.

Long ago, some lazy bum decided that killing mosquitoes with your hands, was too messy and tiresome. In a fit of elegance, he lit up some firewood lying around his place, and came back excitedly, to say, “Look Ma! No hands!”. It took all of London two weeks to bring that spark under control, and they say, to this date, no mosquito has dared venture into the U.K.

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After plain old smoke (burning wood), there was scented smoke (neem wood, agarbatti or incense), then there was poisonous smoke (Tortoise coil or kachchua chaap), then there was smokeless poison (Good Knight), then scented smokeless poison (Casper).

Then came the ultimate Japanese technology, All Out, with their mind-boggling efficiency metric: Mosquito Mortality Rate. Combine that with their vapourisers, deceptively similar to Apple’s iMac devices*, their competition had no chance. Since then All-Out has managed to keep their market. That is, until now.

*They apparently cornered a 60% market share in US among Apple fans. Though it was never intended so, All-Out didn’t seem too perturbed when they were willing to pay a 300% for a piece of plastic, that would keep away creatures, that some of the customers have never seen. Inevitably, their appeal tapered off, when Apple’s die-hard fans couldn’t network the device with the iMac. Last heard from their strategy consultants, BcGainsey & Co., All-Out is planning to include a USB drive in the machine to win back their market share. If you think the strategy suggested is too naive, you need to read up on this species called the Homo Applicus.

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All-Out are facing competition from a ridiculously simple idea: a portable insect electrocutor fashioned in the form of a badminton racquet or tennis racquet. You hold it like a badminton racquet, while making sure the wires are electrified, and are at a safe distance from all humans, including yourself, and swing at a mosquito buzzing around you, or place it on a mosquito resting on a surface, and behold the fireworks.

My mom has tried it on bigger insects: flies, cockroaches, my sister and me. Works perfectly fine in all cases.

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The mosquito bat is catching on, mainly because it has got something for everybody. It is good for the mother because it is very economical. A top-of-the-line portable insect electrocutor costs you Rs. 130. That’s about 3 months worth of All-Out refill packs of smokeless poison, and there are no running costs. Over the year, you save 9 refill packs. Beat a 75% discount. Of course, she is doubly pleased, because now the children are also under control now.

The product is good news for the closet-environmentalist as well, since he can sleep peacefully knowing, no good insect has been harmed in anyway, and as well as parents, who couldn’t sleep earlier, knowing they had to choose slow poison over malaria and dengue. They now can sleep assured that their house is poison-free, scented or otherwise.

Of course, for a nation, that loves a sport like cricket, where you really don’t need to be athletic, electro-swatting mosquitoes (and flies) are a new pastime, apart from spitting long red trains on to hapless pedestrians and passengers on two-wheelers, from doors and windows of buses, to hone their reflexes, and I dare say, a much more satisfying one too. It won’t be too long till we have a IMF (Indian Machchar Maarna Federation) and kids will be playing trump cards of uncles holding deadly mosquito bats swatting at swarms of mosquitoes.

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I mention lateral thinking, because that is what this product reminded me of. I remember a class in which were told the windows in envelopes came from windows in buildings via lateral thinking. This is the same thing, no? Edward de Bono must be electro-smacking himself.

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2 responses to “Machchar Maarna

  1. Apart from the advantages you mentioned, one factor that has really made it a hit in the hostels is that it can easily be carried to the loo. Something that’s just not possible with mats/allout, and is very cumbersome with coils. Plus, they don’t even pass your time in there, which makes these racquets all the more preferable.

    Plus, of course, seeing the mosquito die right before your eyes is so satisfying psychologically, something other forms just can’t manage – with which you can never be sure whether the mosquitoes actually vanished or are only hiding in your hair. ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. At times, killing those mosquitoes are essential, because those sparks give out light, which sometimes the toilets don’t have ๐Ÿ˜€

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