Friday, March 27, 2020


Sometimes the response to a crisis is a lot worse than the crisis itself!
A devastating crisis is the truest test of character. And we all know that the C in Crisis stands for Corona (the virus, not the beer in case anybody is still confused). Isolating oneself during an enforced lockdown can make you painfully aware of uncomfortable truths about said self. The sneaking sense of relief when CDC news bulletins reveal that it is the elderly, infants, health care providers, first responders, the mentally ill, substance abusers, those with compromised immune systems/chronic illnesses who are the ones at a higher risk of getting infected and succumbing to the virus. The realization that you are unhealthily dependent on your maid and are composing epic odes professing your fondness for her even though you discovered dust balls aplenty and countless carcasses of lizards beneath the corner sofa not to mention the chip on the delicate porcelain figurine you proudly display in the hall. The secret fear that cabin fever will get you before Corona will. The realization that you care less about those who are infected or at risk and more about the personal inconvenience caused by a global pandemic…

At times, like this as my Guru Shri Sadhyanandha who my imaginary shrink (the real ones are too pricey or too reminiscent of Hannibal Lecter) tells me is merely one among the voices in my head, says, it is best to turn your gaze outward to better unearth the secrets of the Universe and coerce the cosmic forces to work in your favour. Thus comfortably ensconced in your armchair, you can turn a judgemental gaze on everybody else and feel better about the deficiencies in your own character as well as find a refuge from your deepest, darkest fear of dying alone from unspeakably gross symptoms in a hospital bed, a victim of a viral apocalypse.

It is interesting to note the diverse responses elicited by the Corona threat. Some have become obsessive neat freaks and compulsive hand washers who would bathe in sanitizer if only the idiotic panic buyers had not brought out the entire stock. Now that is not a bad thing in a country like India where most play hard and fast with hygiene, personal or otherwise. But the flip side is that people who are buying masks like it is going out of style also toss them out miles away from the nearest overflowing bin which has not been emptied let alone cleaned out in decades, along with used tissues, and other objects redolent with assorted disease carrying germs. But even the litterbugs are not as bad as the recklessly slovenly who lick toilets, and other objects in public spaces as part of a Corona challenge on Tik Tok. It makes one wonder why so many fear Corona when it is the supreme human capacity for being moronic that will be the death of us all.

Social media is a storehouse of information into the human psyche and it is most revealing if you have the time to waste. Some use hashtags like #perfectlyimperfect to show off their greys and burgeoning love handles as they stress eat their way through a global catastrophe while cussing out a government that does not include beauticians and stylists under essential services. Does the Supreme Leader not realize that our good looks aren’t the bounty of Mother Nature but may be solely attributed to oodles of cash and countless hours sunk into beauty salons? As for those who think a trip to the bathroom merits a fresh shade of lipstick and a blow out, they are bingeing too but on steamed broccoli and extra portions of quinoa but only after they have crushed a six hour plyometric burn session. Some clearly choose to let themselves go when death may potentially be around the corner while others are just as determined to look their best.

Newsfeeds, timelines and whatsapp forwards are unbeatable when it comes to highlighting the contradictory nature of humans. Many are determinedly positive as they post life – affirming messages, inspiring quotes, videos of cats cuddling up against patients when not nursing them back to health and countless pics of people helping each other out with a smile rendering yeoman service to society. These are convinced that all one needs in life threatening situations is the right attitude and even the most virulent of contagions can be wished away by the power of a positive outlook.

The negative Nellies will have no truck with them though. Dwellers in darkness, the morbidly cynical grapple endlessly with the hopelessness of the situation. They look for and find all things oppressive, losing no time to acquaint their followers with graphic images of police brutality, mobs on rampage in grocery stores with magnificent disdain for social distancing, fat cat politicians getting stinking drunk at noisy parties organized smack dab in the middle of a lockdown and old folks dying alone on pavements having been turned out of hospitals already filled to bursting with the sick, dying and chronic hypochondriacs.

Some are scared silly and spend their days praying to forgotten deities to keep them safe from unknown terrors, lurking monsters and killer diseases. Others are reckless, eating, drinking, dancing and dreaming with abandon committed to ‘sucking the marrow out of life’ even if it kills them. 

Some are so obsessed with Corona, they can't seem to function without being overwhelmed by endless anxiety and tormented by graphic visions of being trapped in a sea of infected phlegm as the virus gets its grasping paws on them. Not everyone can be bothered with Corona though. Not when there are countless unwatched movies on Netflix, toenails to be painted, books to immerse oneself in, kids to cuddle and scold, instant noodles to be consumed, chores to be palmed off on reluctant spouses, and the latest Tik Tok challenge to be taken on. As for me, it is time for me to make my way to the bottom of a gallon of ice cream (malted chocolate fudge) before the husband and kids discover my secret stash and demand their share.

1 comment:

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