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|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”

OPINION|The Myth of Super-Luxury Condominiums – Part Deux

(When the Food Chain upends – The age of fastidiousness, curfews and microscopic annihilators)

The current high stress, painfully limiting, curfew-constrained environment has been a fitting test for how well the Super luxurious developments in the city have responded to the basic needs of their residents – like the politico with the 100 watt smile and zero good intentions. Yes, it has been quite entirely dismal. One can probably, in a fit of magnanimity (and copiously blithesome inebriation), forgive the unconscionable oversights; but what has to be gleaned from all this all-out service ineptitude are lessons for other such times. For other such pestilentially afflicted times, there will be.

Besides the obvious and debilitating confinement brought on by the various lockdowns and curfews, there has followed in its wake, the almost non-existent fall back protocols for the supply of basic necessities and services at the besieged condos in the heart of “Premium Colombo”. Residential complexes in other areas/ townships, in fact, have had much better organised conduits of supply to meet demand. The worst faring have indeed, been the Super Luxury developments.

On a personal note, if it had not been for a friend’s domestic aid living in Homagama* from where he sourced vegetables, fruit and dairy, I’d be living off Lilly’s** 10 day old food, fastidiously apportioning it and then scraping the last bits off so that the further lack of dish washing soap at least, wasn’t going to be a problem.

My Super premium condominium actually has a mini market on the premises. Needless to say, it remains shut quite frequently even at the most easeful of social times so it was no surprise to see its sombrely shuttered facade through this entire ordeal; a jeering reminder of how fickle the entire super luxury leitmotif really is.

The management of these developments needs to rouse itself from the salubriously benumbing breezes of the Galle Face Green and look at actually making “Life in the times of the Bacillus Extremis” less arduous for their high-paying residential populace. It’s time to re-evaluate essential skeletal staff numbers together with what constitutes essential services, to ensure life can go on in the sundered cocoons everyone is being forced to build around them. Standing agreements with grocery stores, pharmacies and even laundry services, will be integral towards appreciably improving life in isolation for the residents of the Premium branded residencies.

Time to look and act beyond having the residential address doing all the high-caliber talking. Time to get your hands dirty and implement some real value- added services for the convenience of the residents. The age of the Mighty Microbes is only just beginning and we need to have a head start in making sure we adapt our lives likewise, underscored by carefully deliberated standards of comfort, safety and sophistication.

De Khudai pe aman

Mahvash.

*Homagama: a little town 24kms south east of Colombo in Sri Lanka

**Lilly: a wicked cook who, twice-weekly, whips up gastronomical delights for me; and who heretofore has also been the bearer of all perishable food to my humble abode. Without her, my larder is as barren as the Gobi desert in June.

SOCIAL FARCE|Marital Bliss(ters!)

(An affably prejudiced view)

Been there, done that; yes I too, at some unquestioningly-norms-embracing point in my life, succumbed to the connubial Shades of Grey. Ever since, i have with a mixture of amusement and unabating stupefaction, seen others go down that dubious sluiceway; some emerging disturbingly scathed and others not so much. But all, significantly drained of their essential sense of self and of the salubriousness of the soul. And yet, like the Pied piper of Hamelin, the Nuptial Chains jangle millions on into their tortuous embrace.

There is that diminutive window allowing prudent rethought. It is dismally small though and those reaching through it are oft labeled wayward, nay, freakish eccentrics incapable of weaving themselves into the normal Matrix of society. The pressure to fit in with the Joneses and the Karamatullahs of the community, is still quite unrelenting.

The journey to the aisle or the Dholi* usually begins with these crazy, frenetic bonding hormones, insidiously plotting and planning and then dividing and conquering every sane thought in one’s head. You’re left a soppy, whimsy mess. And if you do not err on the side of caution and lawfully Un-encumbered togetherness, the only light one can see at the end of that emotionally aqueous tunnel is le marriage. And then for a while, the ‘pain’ of maidenhood or bachelorhood as the case may be, ends….

Until a whole new torment takes root. Creeping like a flagitious ivy from some J horror movie plot, straight into your heretofore wonderfully humdrum life.

So what happens to those who follow the Maker of Marital Maladies into the maw of contracts and legalese?

A good number, fairly early on, take the ‘red pill’** – the damned things are quite quintessentially absent when that new-love Oxytocin is doing its merry pre-marital jig inside ones left ventricle! This set then, quite quickly, develops new found enthusiasm for the mundane, the inane, the irrelevant and generally, most things non spousal. And thus they bide their time until they’re hit head-on, hard, by some long subdued memory of delightful, legally uncoupled days gone by; or are convulsed by some other similar anti-shackling epiphany. And so, the debilitating contract perishes as the awareness of it’s fundamentally caustic nature is revealed with the clarity of daylight.

(Yes! Sinister plots unfolding!)

Then there is the intrepid ‘Legally Tethered’ who begins to test the waters outside the matrimonial pool of Spouse and Co++***. The wheeling and dealing and wily deceptions become a part of life. The once upright character dissolves in a mire of treacherous double agency. The MI6 and CIA agents of the world could take a scholarly page or two out of the books of these home grown specialists in duplicity and chicanery. And thus another contract expires amidst copious betrayal, mortification and indignity.

Last but not least is the ‘traditionally wed’- the couple set up by parents and other family seniors who are fully convinced that their progeny, at 30++**** is entirely incapable of having an opinion, living on their own and of course choosing who they’ll share the bathroom with for the next 50 odd years. These highly complex attributes are the specific domain of their elders, praise be to Allah/ Bhagwan/ the Lord, (and to stir-crazy traditions that continue to thrive). The longevity scale here can tip either way depending on how well trained one or both incumbents are in the art of defeatist self delusions.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t add on the odd little outliers- the couples (with special powers!) who actually achieve the “happily ever after”. ‘Tis a myth I still maintain! But I’m willing to doff my Skeptics’ Hat to them; mostly because I know each one has an identical doppelgänger who ensures the other gets copious breaks from onerous spousal indenture. But yes, there are those mightily evolved spirits who have, despite it all, connected on a higher plane and are making it all work. May karma always be good to them – (we need the incidental shining examples even if they are only to indicate that the system once worked and indeed, functioned well).

Safe to say, then, in ending, that through the ages Marriage has become a formidable institution, but also, that few of us in our right minds really want to be institutionalised. However, there is also that inexplicably intoxicating pleasure in being mad which none but madmen (and the pre wedded couple!) know.

So here’s to sense, sensibility and the capability to love, respect and partner without drawing up laborious, counter-intuitive contracts. Here’s to actually embracing the complexity of the human spirit to ensure genuineness, depth and fidelity. Here’s to leaving a Relationship legacy based on emotional and spiritual maturity to our future generations.

Here’s to loving, wise and dignified companionship, with the only affadavit being that of sincere good intentions and an evolving sophistication of mind and spirit.

De Khudai pe aman.

Mahvash.

*Dholi = a decoarated palanquin used to carry the bride to the wedding venue, usually held aloft by her brothers and other male relatives.
**Taking the Red pill = opening oneself up to the unpleasant truth vs. taking the Blue Pill to remain in blissful ignorance.
***Spouse and Co++ = Child ++. If the incumbent is an eager beaver orthodox fiend too, that plus plus can be close on a bakers dozen.
****30++ = this marriageable faction includes ‘children’ that are in their 40s and their 50s.

VERSE|I shot the Sheriff

And I think he’s called the Covid, the Covid 19.
I also know this declaration seems somewhat extreme
Because I hadn’t been tested
So how could I have bested
The microbe that has its pestilential claws
render all it touches, grievously impure?
Try “dead” to be factual!
But hope doth spring eternal ....
In this pandemic, we lasses are only gently brushing by Hades
We’re nothing if not intrepid of spirit, what say you ladies!

But I digress- yes I still maintain,
That I encountered the corona conta-gion!
It came upon me like a flash in the pan;
One day I was hearty, the next, weary and wan.
And my muscles, they did ache
Like someone had driven a stake
Through both of my legs, ala some Vampire Chronicles
Except ‘twere my limbs that were speared, and not my coronary auricles.
Could have been the ventricles too I concede,
But poetry is distinct from prose, you too will accede.

Continuing the saga, I was sick as a dog
No not quite, I’m just exaggerating a tad!
But there was intermittent nausea and my spirits had dithered;
The full bodied lily had ever so slightly withered.
I thought I would get lighter
By a kilo...or fiver.
But the ‘piggy pangs’ continued to be salubrious guests,
And so, I beat the virus at my robustest best.

So why do I say that I have sat at the table
With the Mighty Corona and am yet able
To count myself not only among the recovered and well,
But also that alone, I greeted and then bade him farewell?
Because it defies logic and reason,
That the virus is enjoying a full hunting season
In the First World, which with all its military might
Hasn’t been able to quell this microbial blight;
While the much more vulnerable emerging nations
Are seemingly left to their third world machinations.

So I’ll end with a salute to our high caliber genes
For besting a bacillus extremis like Covid 19

De khudai pe aman

Mahvash.

PANDEMIC 2020|The End of History and the ‘New’ Man

In the most extraordinary and arcane turn of such events generally, the First World appears to be collapsing in on itself in the face of the most recent ‘Invasion of the Mighty Microbe’. The West is frenziedly battling on all fronts as the developing world watches on in mystified fascination – an extreme reality show played out in real time where the main protagonists are all involuntary apocalyptic funambulists and the viewers can’t wait to switch on their TV sets every morning. Disconcerting and distressing as the now serialised drama is, there is an undisputedly surreal and strangely Delphic feel to the corporeal matinee.

Even more stupefying is the shocked, wholly overcome reactions of the American populace at large. From woefully ill-equipped (both materially and mentally) ER doctors to the mainstream wage earner, there is an almost touching sense of disbelief at the cataclysmic hand the “greatest country on earth” seems to have been dealt in the global playground: for once, being the receiver of fateful punches rather than the bestower. Their traditional role of planetary police, judge and jury subverted by a microscopic Warrior of Destinies. We have virtually overnight stepped into a world where economic might is as tenuous as the last few rays of a tropical sunset.

Samuel Huntington, in his 1993 foreign affairs thesis, “A clash of Civilisations”, forwarded a then very compelling argument on how, post the Cold War, the world was being demarcated, not along geo-political or socio-economic ideologies, but along cultural and religious divides. Thus far, thus true.

Thus begins a new chapter. Could this be the beginning of an intransigent new world order dictated by “The Superior Genome”? Could this be the brave new epoch where advantageous immunogenicity serves as the new First World currency? Could we then, be on the brink of another intra-species evolution? Could this be Nature bidding a laboured adieu to yet another cycle of life, another aeon of being; in preparation for a new age with an altered consciousness and a renewed life force?

We can only introspect and conjecture.

But Time, in the most succinct tones, will tell.

De khudai pe aman

Mahvash.