How my photo blog became a story for The New York Times
Queens, Jackson Heights is one of the most diverse cities of United States. If you walk around the area, mostly you will encounter with Nepali, Bangladeshi, Tibetan, Pakistani and Indian nationalities. You can hear all different languages and smell basmati rice, chicken tikka masala, biriyani and momos .Sometimes you can listen different songs, watch dance and diverse cultural events. Along with these beauties if you look around the street corner, sidewalk, wall, or the bottom of the trees you will notice red marks on it. You might wonder what that is. And if someone told you that is the marks of paan, you will feel disgusting and abhorrence the bad behavior. (What is paan? Read here)
I wanted to draw attention and create awareness among us not to spit on the floor and side walk. I want to make the Jackson Heights clean and healthy. So one day in July, I took some photographs of the paan Stain Street and Pedestrian Plaza and published a photo blog “Let’s Make Jackson Heights Betel Spit Free Area” on Sahadevision. I shared blog to my Facebook friends and Twitter followers. I also tagged and mentioned to journalists, news organizations and city members.
Finally a freelance journalist Nicholas Hirshon liked the story idea and here comes the article- “On Jackson Heights Sidewalks, a Treat’s Messy Aftermath”
Now I believe in action. I hope Sanitation Department would put sign around the Jackson Heights in Hindi, Bangladeshi or Urdu languages saying “Do not Spit Paan on the floor” or give fine to the person who spit on the floor. I hope community organizations would organize cleaning campaign to remove the stain.
Paan stain and filthy smell shouldn’t be Jackson Heights’s identity. Jackson Heights should be recognizing for South Asian foods, sari, jewelry and culture. And of course I want to hear and greet Namaste, Salam Alaikum, Kemon Achho to everyone.
Thanks to The New York Times and Nicholas Hirson for brining paan issue at front.
By Sahadev Poudel