Covid-19 – How prepared are we?

Dear Administration,

I had some queries. Would greatly appreciate some insight on this virus which has everyone captive, enthralled and fearfully obsessed.

As of now, I know I should not travel to almost any international destination since this thing seems to be on speed. I should wash my hands at every given opportunity; not touch my face nor touch any surface in public places both of which are proving to be a full time challenge; sneeze into my elbow and pray that my office also decides to encourage working from home; buy hand sanitisers that are no longer available in the market and not bother with masks as they just spread panic and achieve nothing. Oh … and continue eating meats and eggs as that has nothing to do with anything other than the small interesting tidbit that Kerala has had a resurgence of bird flu and resulted in 12k chickens being culled.

Moving on from all of the above … I’d like to understand better how my state/country is managing the situation.

Let’s say I’m unwell and quarantine myself for 14 days within the four walls of my home. What am I supposed to look out for in these 2 weeks? Do I stop ordering stuff online as it would mean an assortment of delivery boys at my doorstep? Do I ask the maids to stay home as well? How exactly do you define quarantine?

At what point in those two weeks do I call for help? Is there some protocol to follow while in quarantine? Where does one call? Does one call for medics at home or call an ambulance? How equipped is the machinery to get people from point A to point B without infecting others? Does the entire family get transported into an excluded seclusion? Do you get to take your digital devices into isolation as well? What about children? What about pets or are they just left to fend for themselves while the family goes off into an impenetrable fortress?

What happens if one is tested positive? Since there is no treatment as of now, how do people get better? There must be some protocol since everyone doesn’t depart for the holy land after being infected. Or does it mean that one can have the virus but not the disease?

If all those tested positive are placed together in an isolation ward … will they keep transferring the virus from one to the other in an endless merry go round?

What happens when you emerge unscathed from isolation? Can you go back into the world of living as super beings who are no longer susceptible or do you go into hiding once again?

When schools start closing down, events start getting canceled and people invest in masks like its the biggest thing on the stock market … then it raises some basic questions. Could you answer some of them for me, please?

Thanking you deeply,

a concerned citizen

Beauty in tumult

Sarfaroshi ki tamanna ab hamare dil mein hai. Dekhna hai zor kitna baazu-e-kaatil mein hai. (The desire to make a sacrifice is in our hearts. Let us see what strength there is in the arms of our executioner) Bismil Azimabadi

Today’s youth is impassioned, angry and awake. They’ve found a cause towards which to direct their energy. Righteous, patriotic, inclusive, fighting injustice … it’s a beautiful, heartwarming sight.

Today, almost 50% of our population in India is below 25 years of age. The average age of an Indian is 29 years. Imagine the sheer power we wield as a country!

Unwittingly, this power has been harnessed and is gradually unleashing its moral strength, righteous anger and indignation upon the leading lights of our nation. All it took was an encroachment into civil rights and constitutional freedoms.

To see them pouring out into the streets across India, choosing a path of restraint despite provocation, choosing to stand with their brothers and sisters, choosing unity and diversity … it is like witnessing an eagle take flight. Powerful and glorious.

To whom I belong,

For years I kept lining myself in anticipation of nurturing a living breathing entity. Years went by but nothing happened. I kept lining and shedding … eternally hopeful … waiting, longing.

Somewhere the prolonged wait and hope soured into disappointment.

I have been withheld from following my natural course and the flush of hormones are beginning to get all mixed up and erratic. Soon the clockwork rhythm will stutter. Soon you will realise that it is the end of the road and there is no going back and I will remain lonely and unfulfilled this lifetime.

We are in this together and I’m learning not to hold a grudge.

lovingly,

your womb

Personality Typos

You wake up one fine morning and the dissonance that you sometimes felt but brushed aside suddenly turns into a full fledged aggravation … and you sigh and once again tell yourself … that gut … it was right as usual.

You meet people socially. Everything seems fine. You’re a drink down and you fail to notice the maniacal gleam; the bloated gloater; the brisk brush-off to the pet; the skittish eyes; the flash of anger …

Later, the personality blooms before your eyes when a ‘situation’ presents itself. When control is no longer possible. When they’ve been caught off guard. Then those hidden signs manifest into the real person behind the smiling facade.

And then it’s ‘ouch’ time …

These ‘typos’ are not a mistake. They exist for real. They’re the spice to the regular fare but always better in small doses.

I should have been warier so I wouldn’t feel like a warrior today.

Oh, December!

I like you! You’re dressed in twinkly lights and Christmas red. People everywhere are celebrating you. You bring travel, events, parties, gifts, retail therapy, friendly get-togethers, holidays, jamborees and surprises galore.  Some year endings are painful and others come with a surety that what’s coming … Continue reading Oh, December!

To whomsoever it may concern,

I think we have a problem. My electricity bill is twice what it used to be.

I pay GST every single god forsaken month. In fact, I pay GST (in illogically varying percentages) every single day for every single purchase I make. And then I top it all off with some income tax as well.

I feel mounting dread each time I venture out in my car and find myself looking at an almost empty fuel gauge. I hunt for ATMs that actually dispense cash and, more often than not, i find myself stuck with 2000 rupee notes. Thankfully, they are handy at the petrol pump since money flows like an infected tummy run. I don’t like paying by card because …

My credit card got hacked. I was being encouraged to use it across the board but no one warned me of the potential dangers. I had to survive for a week without a card. 

My building society wants to extort more money in the name of repairs. 

My phone network rarely allows a call to complete without dropping a frustrating number of times.

The roads are a joke and the traffic is a laugh riot.

Stepping out of the home is fraught with  unforeseen dangers, potential road injuries or respiratory illnesses (courtesy the air pollution) leading to potential hospital costs that could wipe out all my savings; cancelled flights because of striking pilots or worse still … drunk ones; fake news and misinformation causing sudden stupid riots; good, reliable education is like the unicorn – a fantasy … the list is endless. I think you’re getting the point, hopefully.

I’m not even sure what you can do but if things don’t improve I may have to resort to stand up comedy … cancel that … I’m not too keen on jail. 

So that leaves me with a couple of options … I could borrow a boat from a fisherman (since they are now steadily losing their fishing areas in the name of development) and sail out like Pi. Phir dekhi jayegi.

Or I could team up with some scamsters and make a lot of money from the clueless banking system and fly out of the country and spend my life as an infamous, rich socialite. 

Hmmm. This exercise has helped.

Thank you. Next.


#MeToo

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I tried writing this blog from the POV of a sexual predator but I gave up after a few attempts. I couldn’t get myself to think like an entitled imbecile who throws himself at women and believes that their gratitude for this attention should be paid by servility and sexual compliance.

This grey zone of sexual harassment is a judgmental space. It’s a zone of judgement and opinions. Men and women both get summarily dismissed by colleagues and observers for the ways they behaved or failed to behave at work.  From allowing a hand on the thigh to drinking with a male colleague to being someone’s favourite at work to consistently dipping into the office pool to hone their marksmanship… the list is nuanced and long. The enforced bonding on projects and long hours at work have made the workplace a hotbed (pun intended) of potential exploitation in this desire for power and possession.

However, what constitutes sexual harassment? In my considered opinion, it is anything that involves :

  • Stalking
  • Preying
  • Luring
  • Baiting
  • Using aggression, blackmail, power, promise of retribution, fear, undermining someone’s spirit … All for sexual dominance.

So, to clarify …. Gentlemen predators,

  • If you believe that you own the women who work for you or with you …
  • If you believe that women are basically dumb props and have made themselves available because they stepped out of their home to earn a living
  • If you believe that women exist for your pleasure
  • If you believe that women cannot achieve their goals without your proprietorial hand on their ass
  • If you believe that your female colleagues need sex education
  • If you believe that you are populating your personal harem while employing young, fresh ’talent’ then …

You are about to have your mask ripped off. And the world will see you for the self-entitled oaf you are. Because your Time is Up and you had it coming.

This applies to predators across the board, irrespective of gender or their leaning. 

The Unexpected

When life happens without warning … it sort of jolts you in to thinking about so many fundamentals. Bodies that we take for granted, people that we assume will always be there for us, health that will continue to keep us going in our ‘important’ assignments … inevitably, these realities change.

You decide. What is so important that if it disappears … you will be bereft/incomplete/inconsolable? You decide. And then focus on savouring it. Before it disappears … like every transient thing in this world. Including you.

Dear Akshaybhai,

Such a hullabaloo about me! Didn’t really expect it. I’ve been so used to being hidden, spoken of in hushed whispers, hurriedly passed from one hand to the other, tucked away under a shirt or in the pocket … god forbid someone sees me and puts two and two together.

And now suddenly, every one is flashing me around, taking selfies with me, openly flaunting me … men and women alike! Being waved around like a victory flag is so confusing. I mean. Aamir Khan was brandishing me a while ago! This sudden celebrityhood is very heady.

Hopefully, I will not get eclipsed a28595975086054a29f9da29ef58a273

once all this naach gaana is over.

In the meantime, thank you for bringing me out of the closet. For setting me free.

The ‘period’ic friend and companion,

The sanitary napkin fondly called ‘Pad’

Time travel

I was sitting at a coffee shop waiting for a friend. I had enough time to observe the people around me. I noticed a couple sitting in the extreme corner. The guy was clearly uncomfortable because the girl was sobbing and he seemed torn between wanting to reassure her and hoping that the people around wouldn’t hold him responsible for her tears. All of a sudden, while the guy seemed to be earnestly saying something, she threw the mug across the floor and ran out of the cafe. He appeared stunned. No, he did not get up and run after her. He placed his head in his hands and stayed that way while the waiter went across and cleared the mess. Soon enough, he got up and left for the exit without meeting anyone’s eye. Since this is real life and i’m not involved in this character’s story … i guess it will remain incomplete. It will come back to me from time to time in different ways … sometimes the boy’s expression, sometimes the girl getting up and flinging the cup across the floor with disappointment writ large on her face, sometimes the turning of several heads as they register the disturbance and look around, sometimes the defeated look on the boy’s face as he walked out the door … sometimes in slow motion and sometimes in sharp cuts.

Isn’t that what happens to our memories too? Over a period of time the interpretation is sweeter or not depending on how we want to see that moment.9d75c9ad3cd5dec88faa9f8ff1c5b0ba

The images don’t really alter but the way the light falls on them, the way the expressions remain, the selective bits we remember or those that we discard … decide how we look back on our past. Time is a great healer. It is also a great concealer.