PANDEMIC 2020|The Journey to Calmness

Acceptance, Grace and Tranquility

It’s been tragic, arduous, bizarre and even downright dull in the wake of the Bacillus Extremis. It’s been stressful and emotionally draining. The novel Corona, in all its microscopic might, has turned the world as we knew it, radically upside down and even inside out. It’s left many of us wondering if life as we knew it, is an epoch now past and if we are indeed on the threshold of a new kind of world. An existence underscored by a uniquely new approach to community, sociability and even intimacy with our loved ones outside of our nuclear families. The anticipation of what is to come is tremulous with disquietude. Glimmers of hope are rare and are constantly shrouded by the ever-burgeoning core of this malaise we are calling the novel Corona.

I have over the long, sometimes interminable hours of the last month had ample opportunity to think, remonstrate, deflect, clamour, feud, conjecture and concede. Most times, with myself; sometimes with the screen of my LG television and also via a few unpropitious encounters with near and dear ones. Like many out there, i went through the whole gamut of emotions experienced in the aftermath of a trauma. The degree varied but the angst was much the same and it took the whole experiential sequence for me to attain my post-Covid calm and the almost existential approbatio* of whatever will be will be. Here’s my journey:

  • Shock and bewilderment – just as i was ready to come out of corporate hibernation and re-enter some semblance of a working environment, WFH* becomes the new standard. So it was back to a sketchy hibernation much like a wide awake, ready-for-a-big-fat-spring-meal bear who has blundered out in a blustery January.
  • Hypervigilance about the future – a zombie apocalypse was bound to follow and the only skill i could bring to the “Walking Dead” In Situ was an uncanny ability to multitask and a canny capacity to write farce…. facts, pithy historical facts…. who am i kidding, Farce with, I’m hoping, a bit of heart.
  • Intense anger and irritability – the cabin fever coincided very nicely with the PMS peevishness, so the beloved familial circle was hardly the wiser. They all took the usual ‘shelter in place’ when the spillways of tetchiness and petulance sent forth their monthly rush of acidity.
  • Sadness and depression – the biggest contributor here was the woeful lack of my mid morning caffeine ‘jostle’, imbibed in the form of a very anaemic latte in the wistfully clammy, alfresco environs of my neighbourhood bistro and wine bar. The atmospheric withdrawal has been excruciating…. “Oh Sugar! Honey honey! You are my candy girl and you’ve got me wanting you!”
  • Apathy and emotional numbness: This phase consisted entirely of tremendously long hours spent tuned into the CNN, the BBC and Aljazeera. I watched these unblinkingly, unemotionally, waiting for the penny to drop. At their end. For the media parody to finally end so i could go back to buying lacteous lattes and sipping them pensively while i waited for epiphanous writing plots to excitingly unravel.
  • Recurring nightmares – Saturnine, spine chilling horrors. I dreamt of being chased by the spectral detritus of every spider and gecko I’d ever cursed or quelled in my life – may the universe keep the arachnid and reptilian populations in its blessed, all encompassing (read: inescapable) embrace. It was terrifying and worse than any human zombie herd, bearing down on me with its gnashing assortment of acid-corroded teeth.
  • Acceptance – And then the essential provisions/ food trucks started coming with a reassuring frequency so we knew with a measure of confidence that we weren’t going to starve anytime soon. In their nutritive wake, we also got the bearers of big and little treats like ice cream, cheese, cold meats and cakes. And that’s when the tide turned on all the under-the-breath utterances from across the spectrum of condominium dwelling humanity. The “Myth of the Super Luxury condos” was in the happy throes of being nullified, debunked, annihilated- at least in this episode of Man vs. Corona. The Myth of Super-Luxury Condominiums – Part Deux; The myth of “Super Luxury” condominiums
  • Moving on – Many of us have harnessed our new reality and even temerity of our existence and moved on the best we can. Some have embarked on halting but brave attempts at reviving a hobby or honing an aspirational skill; others have revisited their approach to health with new fervour; still others are taking the time to unwind, meditate, introspect and heal. While we make our individual post-Covid journeys of renewal and self discovery, we have, as a species, also stepped back so that our battered planet can recover, revive and renew.

I leave you with the below lines from Carl Sagan:

“Look again at that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every “superstar,” every “supreme leader,” every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there-on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam“.

De Khudai pe aman.

*Approbatio: Latin for approving, assenting, acceptance

**WFH: Working From Home

PANDEMIC 2020|Hairy Adventures – Part deux

Pandemic Special

It’s been just short of a month since the current curfew conditions were imposed in our city, and quite a lot longer in some other metropolises. And while the world at large has been preoccupied with the more immediate imperative of procuring food and other essential provisions, nature has been gleefully taking its regular course on all other fronts. Including the Follicular.

Three weeks on, and one can finally look in the mirror and know for a fact that what folks see of you now is what they actually get- an abundance of character, a pretty robust immunity (you’re still around aren’t you!) and of course the extra kg or so of all sorts of hirsute proliferation. This may include the heretofore publicly unseen unibrow, now quivering with health in its full horizontal entirety; and maybe also a quite robust moustache, that you last encountered when you were 14 and were still fast friends with all hair-related outcroppings. And of course the resilient growth on the arms and legs- a veritable extra canopy against the clammily bracing tropical breezes. Needless to say, many an air-conditioning thermostat has been adjusted to account for the extra covering, worn per force.

With the curfew now onerously plodding into its fourth week, the thin stores of razors and depilatories have also probably become nostalgic Ghosts of Hairlessness Past. And The more genteel amongst us are now probably spending more than a few of our locked-down hours thinking up ways of “taming the beast” before heading out for a session with Tania at Waxworks …. whenever that might be! The more constructively intrepid may even share a digital pearl of homegrown wisdom on the subject. So, together with updates on visiting food trucks, a social media hawkeye on this aspect may be of vast benefit to some….. many… who am i kidding, all of us!

In the meantime, the other denominator- the salon staff, are clocking their own glabrous countdowns to the time when they can alter the current Corona trend of Grisly Ladies who Lunch- in solitary. Needless to say, the urge to pluck, yank and depilate is intense across the entire salon confluence. I for one, got a lovely message from my resident spa wizard asking about my general well being. I told her that I missed her and that I was now quite definitely looking like Snow White’s wicked stepmother sans her magic (read: beautifying!!) wand. The hair was growing inelegantly grey and the eyebrows looked like 2 very, very distantly related cousins, in the aftermath of some personal endeavours in that area. In summary, I was not only suffering from cabin fever after all this home boundedness, but was with every passing day, looking more and more like I’d stepped out of the Neanderthal display in a natural history museum. She was delighted!

The age of the Corona is obviously teaching us more than just patience, forebearance and humility. It is also adjusting (correcting?) our socially conditioned sense of self as more and more, we’re letting it “all hang out”. Our partners too, are hesitantly/ puzzlingly/ apprehensively (depending on how much of a real life filter you had going on for yourself!) getting used to the peremptory au naturale trend of 2020.

The runways in 2021 will be interesting to watch. Nameless/ faceless models, with on-point face masks and matching all season gloves, teaching us elegant ways of walking 6 feet apart from one another. The post-Covid ramps will offer little occasion to portray beauty that is only skin-deep; picture perfect, surgically enhanced features will seem irrelevant and ephemeral after the corporeity of the previous year. It’ll probably spawn a whole new return to basics with a more authentic medley of wellness, beauty and form.

That will imaginably be a CSL – a Corona Silver Lining.

Hairy adventures

De Khudai pe aman.

PANDEMIC 2020|The Importance of being Gracious

(Quite as Important as being Earnest)

These are strange, even somewhat chilling times as we navigate through a viral storm of unprecedented proportions.

We have all been constrained to significantly modify our lives as we traverse the largely uncharteted waters of interminably extended curfews and lockdowns. Where the regular hustle and bustle of life as we’ve known it, has changed drastically to not only embrace a new kind of solitary social ideology but also how we go about procuring our daily provisions.

For those of us living in curfew-bound localities where we are dependent on the good graces of generally wayward supplies trucks that roll in occasionally, this change has been much more onerous. And that is where our hidden stores of grace, forbearance and compassion come in.

These are difficult times, no doubt, but everyone of us is capable of showing that essential modicum of dignity and consideration for our neighbours and fellow condominium residents as the case may be. So next time when our friendly Covid-era food trucks swing by, it would be a first class gesture of camaraderie and beneficence to fight the urge to amass as much as you can carry and then some. There are other residents who are in a similar nutritionally-deprived state, undergoing the very same Where’s-the-next-decent-meal-coming-from mental trauma and who would therefore mightily appreciate some manner of social solicitude.

So yes, despite the 40,000 year old homo sapien brain sophistication, there are those perplexing few among us who still feel their ancient Neanderthal instincts frantically kicking in when times are uncongenial. But, there is light at the end of that inter-epochal tunnel; a splendid little trick to help you overcome those unbecoming primeval compulsions: Drop down on one knee, or both (depending on your orthopaedic veracity) and pretend to look for some lost little thing (“Decency!” the crowd vociferates! But i digress…) Let the ancient brain, in the astute survival legacy of our Palaeolithic ancestors, urgently scout for the next meal potentially crawling by. That flagrant substratal self-reminder will almost surely help to put you squarely back on the path to Homo sapien self actualisation. And as the blood rushes to your brain while maintaining that perfect primate squat, stark Cro-Magnon man lucidity will hit even more sharply as you quite quickly realise that you’re darned well not going to munch through or cook those 2 Keells* bags full of vegetables you’re eyeing like manna from heaven, or wash your entire wardrobe 7 times over.

Let Grace into your lives- the quality that is; letting the lady in may cause inessential stress and scandal in these already testing times. (Bad joke- courtesy: Corona Fatigue!)

Come on folks, let’s be decent. Let there be kindness and empathy. And the vital awareness that never before has it been more important to unite as a community, a species and an intelligent, aware and perceptive life force across our wounded world.

Start with your neighbourhood. Be mindful. Be courteous. Be kind.

De Khudai pe aman.

*Keells: a prominent grocery chain across the island

PANDEMIC 2020|For whom the Curfew tolls

(The summons of the Paleolithic Man!)

A bit of a rant, this. We’re one of the few countries where the citizens/ residents are being superintended by an all-out curfew rather than the slightly more assuasive (read: civilised) “Lockdown”.

This is now Day 15 of the curfew and there is no end in sight. As much as the citizenry at large appreciates the abundantly aggressive government efforts to quell the spread of this bacillus extremis, there has to be a method to the autocratic madness. And I’m not even discounting the efficacy of the said establishmentarian mania – a lot of us do well with a touch of dictatorial fanaticism. It must, however, be accompanied by some reasonable strategy and respite to keep the citizenry from resorting to unbecoming and indeed criminal mental and physical health-preserving conduct:

  • Unbridled social revelry (Ad_ D___*: “11,000 imprisoned” for flouting the curfew, no doubt to escape the ‘house arrest’ atmosphere of the last fortnight now, and counting);
    Venturing out of their homes on the sly (Ad_ D___: “2,700 vehicles impounded”, of blunderingly-adulting truants who were probably out to procure some bread or aspirin).

The populace at large, indulging in all manner of deception and intrigue to beat the system.

The logistical support in terms of the supply of essential food stuff, personal care and pharmaceutical products has been dismal, nay, grievously absent. It’s almost like the people of the city have been coercively cast in a tropical version of “The Hunger Games” – all scavenging for anything they can even remotely use (or not; the urge to amass is supreme), to survive with some degree of grace. We are (and not very unhurriedly at that!) giving in to our primeval hunter/ gatherer nature as Meghalayan supply chains have become woefully erratic at best and quite absent generally.

To the powers that be and to the Curfew administrators at large: we appreciate your version of tactical warfare in the face of the NCoV** assault, but a tad more thought behind the how, when and wherefore of maintaining order, and indeed the cycle of life itself in the Oceanic province*** is paramount. Get the perishable and non perishable food and medicines supply networks organised across all sectors of the city. When all’s said and done, with all its malefic pestilence, even the Corona plunges forth as per set environmental and proximity protocols. We, then, are touted to be the intelligent species, at the top of the food chain.

De Khudai pe aman.

*Ad_ D___: news portal/ broadcasting channel in the country

**NCoV: Novel Corona Virus

***Oceanic province: from Orwell’s “1984” where the the main plot unfolds in London, in the Oceanic Province that “had once been called England or Britain”