Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Thursday, November 16, 2006

Everything you don't need to know about them...

By Tareq

You get to see them every now and then, sitting on the sidewalk with their wares spread out before them, yelling out to the world that they've got the cure for every disease known to man. Yup, I'm talking about kobirajes (and for those of who are wondering, nothing to do with poets or poems), that part of the population whose job is to offer to the more stupid part of the crowd their versions of medicine.

So there I was, walking down the sidewalk when I notice this crowd. Thinking that maybe someone's died I decide to take a look. Only I'm greeted by the sight of jars and jars full of God knows what and this distinctly pallid looking guy (maybe he tasted his own medicine) shouting that the doctors of today are nothing but frauds and only serve their own interests before the interest of their patients. He then went on to say that even the medicine found in pharmacies are overpriced and not worth the buy. After that he proceeded to describe his own medicine, claiming that they're cheap and increasingly effective. That's when I realized that the dude was a kobiraj.

I was interested enough to stand there and listen to him talk. He rattled off the names of probably a hundred different human ailments and the cures that he was selling. Every now and then he would point at something in a jar and yodel theatrically that it was a cure for a previously unknown disease. Sometimes a person from the crowd would ask a question regarding some medicine or the other and the guy would answer and point to yet another jar (I think he pointed to the same jar twice for two different maladies; maybe it's one of those miracle drug thingies).

After some time I plucked up the courage and pointed at a jar (which had a sickeningly green powder in it) and asked a question (the question went along the lines of: 'What's that do?'). The bloke answered that it was a cure for jonmorogue. My first impression was that maybe jonmorogue had something to do with birth control or something (it did have the word 'jonmo' in it), that is until the man asked me if I wanted to buy some.

The other thing that kept me standing there were the things in the jars. There was one jar with leeches in it, which was supposedly an “all natural” cure for “bad blood”. There was also a bowl full of what looked distinctly like goat excrement, which the kobiraj claimed, was a cure for tooth decay.

There were also these weird glittery powders in sickening colors which supposedly cured headaches and sneezing. One bloke asked if the kobiraj had a cure for cancer. The kobiraj theatrically pointed at a jar filled with a yellow liquid and a large black glob of who knows what and claimed that it was a cure a hundred years old (come to think of it, he never really answered the question). There were a lot of leaves and twigs which were 'natural' cures for brain tumors. I ventured another question (which went along the lines of: What's this made of?). The kobiraj answered that it was the oldest secret that had been passed down for generations in his family and that it was too complicated for him to explain. It makes one wonder, if it's too complicated to explain, then how come the guy's able to prepare the stuff? After fifteen minutes of standing there I finally got to witness a bloke buying some of the stuff. When he asked the price of a couple of twigs (which supposed cured indigestion) the kobiraj promptly answered that they were worth 75 TK. That seriously contradicts his previous claim of cheap medicine.

The show became even more interesting when a couple of men came over and demanded their money back. These people had bought a cure for coughs and instead of curing them, the stuff had caused bulbous boils to spring up all over their bodies. The kobiraj claimed that it was a minor side effect that could be healed if they bought another cure from him. The men decided to threaten him to return their money or face the beating of his life. After that incident I lost interest and made my way home.

The lesson to be learnt form this article is that no matter how much you hate and mistrust doctors, you should never resort to a kobiraj. At least a doctor won't sell some green powder that might just cause whiplash (although I've no idea how)…



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