The “thookdaan” or spittoon

October 19, 2007 at 4:50 am (Culture, India, Pakistan, South Asia, The United States)

In old households, an interesting implement that existed was a spittoon (called a “thookdaan”). These were important because a common and traditional edible thing, “paan”, was and is often made with tobacco (called “tambaakoo”). Depending on the type, it would have to be spit out after one has chewed it and absorbed its high-inducing properties. To protect the walls and floors, one would spit into the aforementioned spittoon. Most of these were made of metal. (Obviously, the servants would empty and clean it. Almost everyone has servants in Pakistan.)

The need for spittoons can be easily seen by the conditions of the public streets and sidewalks in Pakistan: they are all marred by red stains, residue of people spitting the remains of chewed-up tobacco.

Because paan is not going away anytime soon — although the traditions and rituals around it are no longer as prevalent, eating it still is ubiquitous — perhaps there should be more widespread use and presence of spittoons. America no longer needs spittoons: might as well export them to Pakistan and India, eh?

Random language point: “daan” means “place or container”. A “thookdaan” is a “daan” (“container”) for “thook” (spit, here referring to tobacco-stained saliva). A “paandaan” is a container for the ingredients and acoutrements for making and eating paan.

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1 Comment

  1. Steamboat McGoo said,

    So is “Hot daan!” an expression of anticipatory delight at the prospect of getting zonked on some good tambaakoo?

    Sorry.

    I will not inflict myself upon you any further.

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