Betel nut is the working man’s vice. You’re not worth your salt as a fisherman or labourer or cleaner if you don’t have red stained lips and half your teeth missing.
Wherever you go in Sri Lanka you will see men and women spiting a long stream of dark red juice from their mouths as they chew away on a combination of betel nut, betel leaf, tobacco, and lime paste.
Apparently it gives you a bit of an energy burst and helps you focus. A bit like a morning coffee. It is also used as a traditional after meal digestive at formal functions. So maybe it’s actually every man’s vice.
Having eaten fish out of the back of a TukTuk it was time to up my game to the next level. Our local coconut man sells betel nut packs from his small stand for 20c. This gets you 5 leaves with all the good stuff wrapped inside.
As we were beginning our weekly ritual of cleaning the house, I thought to myself, what a perfect time for a pick me up, so I decided to chew down.
I put the nut, paste and tobacco inside a half leaf folded it up and began chewing. It tasted peppery at first not great but not too bad. Then after about a minute I began tofeel good, bit of energy, things were nice and clear, I could tell why people got into this. Then after another minute it hit. The room turned into a merry-go-round as my head began to spin faster and faster. I had to lie down. My heart began to race. Nauseua. The bettle nut was in full force. I spent the next two hours laying on the bed trying to stop the room from spinning. It was horrible. I would have rather cleaned every toilet in the building than deal with this.
I have been told since that I put too much, a) tobacco, b) lime powder, c) everything. I claim everything. It smashed me. I have no idea how you go out and catch fish whilst chewing this stuff. All power to the betel chewers, to do any work and chew this stuff is incredible (although I think they would be slightly more productive without it).