World Around Me

Why Do We Use a Handkerchief?

If you thought handkerchiefs are used for personal hygiene reasons and, well,  it is sort of unsightly to wipe your nose on your sleeve, then you do need to think again. This morning Delhi taught me otherwise. Sitting in an autorikshaw and travelling from RK Puram to Paharganj I learnt the greatness of this tiny piece of cloth that stays in our pockets through the day.

A handkerchief is surely an indispensible tool, being a part and parcel of us, wherever we go daily. No wonder I noticed sellers in Paharganj market seated with their baskets loaded with them. You could easily afford a dozen, beautiful ones, the plain whites, or checkered for the men and, lovely floral prints for the lady. In my one hour of commute, I noticed multiple uses of this cotton cloth. You could randomly throw it through the window of a slow moving bus, to secure a comfortable seat for your journey. For those who intend to be the “Goonda”, secure it around your neck to intimidate people.  Want to send a message to your beloved? Simply write a letter or a song, and wrap it in a stone and fling it to them. These are uses we all are already aware of, right? But what about these two?

For here was a gentleman I encountered-  Ihe traffic police at the circle. Dressed in his customary full sleeve white shirt and blue trousers, he took a break from the continuous stream of traffic to blow his nose in full public. Where was his hankie? Oh wait I did spot it come out, right after the deed was done to wipe his hands of the remains. Ah! The hankie put to good use. For all other things, the Indian roads are always there.

At the next turn, I spotted a young college kid at the bus stand. I saw her mouth move in motion,  chewing probably what was once a juicy gum. As a shiny red bus approached , I noticed her quickly pick up her hankie and place it on her mouth. The chewing had stopped. Hankies as storage containers?

The hankie is surely a vital tool with multiple utilities. It is a small thing that easily fits into any pocket. So why really soil them with something as silly as nasal discharges, right?

Featured Image: For representation purpose only(Source:


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