Is Your Idea of Religion Right, if it puts Life in Jeopardy?

I have to begin this post clarifying that I am not questioning religions. I am questioning your idea or understanding of your religion and even though I mention only a few scenarios, the question is for each of us who believe in our own version of our religions.

Is Your Idea of Religion Right, if it puts Life in Jeopardy? Say you are following your scriptures verbatim. But that causes a certain inconvenience to another. Does that please your God? Simply put, you went to your temple of worship because of your idea of your Religion, but you ended up spreading Coronavirus to all the worshipers there. You didn’t know that you were sick, but you knew that the virus was doing its rounds and the people were being advised to stay at home. How would you justify that?

Islamic sect Tablighi Jamaat conducted an Event in Delhi’s Nizamuddin area in March. People from different countries attended this event and once it ended, many of those who attended it, decided to stay on, including some foreigners. We need to remember that by March, the situation all over the world had worsened.  And so conducting an event that involved the participation of people from foreign countries was a grossly negligent move specially when Indians themselves who came from abroad were being quarantined!

I do not see the point in fighting amidst each other, or blaming a particular religion for this mishap. Clearly the head of the sect Tablighi Jamaat is the first one to be answerable, followed by every person who attended it. They as individuals made a conscious choice to get together amidst the chaos when it was not advisable. No excuses that is being circulated on the internet could justify the event.

Initially Maharashtra and Kerala reported the highest number of cases mostly because of Indians who came from abroad. But over the last few days Delhi, Telangana and Tamil Nadu showed spikes in their Coronavirus cases along-with the former 2 states because of the Tablighi Jamat event. With the help of data released by various States and UTs, it is believed that around 8000 people have been to the group’s headquarters in Nizamuddin area. The participants are being identified and the contact tracing has been in progress. The event and the resulting chaos have infuriated the people and the authorities equally. While the Central Government and the respective State Governments have been trying to find methods to control the situation, the people as usual have sought to ‘resolve’ the matter by fighting, name calling and turning this into a religious agenda.

Because of the event, the positive cases in India doubled in just 4 days. As per the Health Ministry, if not for the event, the number would have doubled only in 7.4 days. The Markaz Chief Maulana Saad is under self quarantine and once the time frame ends, he will be questioned by the Delhi Police.

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Photo by Olivia Snow on Unsplash

Meanwhile, I came across a video released by CNN wherein people who have been to Church are being asked why they aren’t staying at home. Here are some alarming answers:

“I’m covered in Jesus’s blood. All these people go to this church. I go to the grocery store every day, all those people, they could get me sick, but I am not. Because I am covered in Jesus’s blood”

“The blood of Jesus cures every disease : Psalms 91. Read it!”

Here’s the video:

These are a bunch of people who have made up their minds that nothing will happen to them, that they are miraculously covered in Jesus’s blood and we do have a Pastor who ‘would know’ if somebody is sick while even the medics are in a helpless state. It is funny how beliefs could make people insensitive to suffering. They don’t understand that their liberty could kill people or worse, make them suffer. Please remember that these videos are from the worst hit place as of now (11th Apr 2020); USA with over 5 lakhs positive cases.

I believe Religion, among other things, make life meaningful for humans. When you are going through the toughest times, you turn to your faith and search for answers. No Religion ever asks you to cause harm. But the irony is that in the above cases, people have used their Religion to cause harm and they aren’t even aware of it! We are creatures with such good powers of discrimination and yet we are easily fooled.

Every time I think of how easily our world could crumble, I freak out! The odds are scary. There are a million ways the disease could spread but only one way to stop it.


Featured Photo by Ian Espinosa on Unsplash

Interesting Web Series to Watch During Lockdown

For today’s post I decided to keep aside the Covid-19 stories and make a list of Web Series  to watch during the lock-down. I asked my friends on my Instagram page for recommendations and I sure did get a long list. The post is divided into two parts: Recommendation based on what I have watched and the popular recommendations that I haven’t watched. I’m assuming that you’ve all watched or have heard of FRIENDS Sitcom and so I’m not going there. Just WATCH IT!!! if you haven’t:

BEST WEB SERIES TO WATCH DURING THE LOCK-DOWN (PERSONAL RECOMMENDATION)

  1. The Goodplace – Netflix – Comedy, Afterlife. Though it seemed a little lame and boring at first, it picks up pace and before you know it, you are hooked! It begins with a woman who has died and come to heaven, which is The Good Place. But apparently, there has been a mistake (Oops!). There are moments in the show when we get to see the tiny and silly aspects of being human as narrated by the Character ‘Michael’. You should definitely give it a watch if you’re looking for something light-hearted and meaningful at the same time.

    WhatsApp Image 2020-04-09 at 11.36.33 PM.jpeg
    The Good Place
  2. The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina – Netflix – I love fantasy, magic and witches. But even so,  I began watching it only for the pretty lead character Kiernan Shipka who strikingly resembles Emma Watson and soon I couldn’t stop watching the show. It begins with Sabrina – A half witch half human – turning sixteen, an important milestone in her life. She has decisions to make, discover her power and her true backstory. Intriguing, hooking and it does have a little bit of a Harry Potter vibe to it! 😉

    See the new trailer for 'Chilling Adventures of Sabrina' season 3 ...
    The Resemblance of Kiernan Shipka with Emma Watson is uncanny!
  3. Locke & Key – Netflix – As my thirst for magic only increased with the earlier one, I started watching Locke & Key. It is about a house with hidden Keys that whispers out to their safe keepers. These keys have powers and if used in the right keyholes, they reveal their powers. If these keys fell into the wrong hands, they would be the mightiest weapons and as you’d have guessed, there are dark forces looking for them. Though the story telling was slightly raw and quick paced, I liked it for the mystery in it. If you’re looking for some magical web series to watch during the lock-down, I have given you enough!
  4. Big Bang Theory – Netflix – I know that Big Bang Theory isn’t for everyone. But I can assure you that more people than you think will like this show because you don’t really have to know science to understand it. All you need to focus is on the characters and you’ll start falling for the way each of them grow over time. I fell for the character arc. Unlike shows like Game of Thrones and How I Met Your Mother, this one ended on a beautiful and overwhelming note. I’d definitely recommend it if you have the patience to understand the characters.
  5. Made in Heaven – Prime – Drama (Hindi) –  Every episode of this series takes us to different weddings that a Wedding Planner handles and so, we are told the stories of various families, and the problems that they face during the weddings. The constant characters are the wedding planners and we see glimpses of their personal lives too. For me, the theme is fresh. While the tiny stories within are our same old Indian stories, they have been made more realistic and have been executed so very well.
    Prime Video: Made In Heaven - Season 1
  6. Family Man – Prime – Action, Drama (Hindi) – Yet another quick paced one from India. I was majorly impressed with the cast, the character development and the story telling in this. I must admit that I have a soft corner for this series because it featured Malayalam actors too (Neeraj Madhav and Dinesh Prabhakar). But even if it were played by someone else, I’d have felt the same way about the series.

  7. The I-Land – Netflix – Survival, Science Fiction, Thriller – Please don’t go by the rating. Just start watching and you’ll be hooked! It is a single season, 7 Episode mini series that begins with people waking up in a strange island with no memories of anything whatsoever. It’s a fast paced, edge of the seat watch. Just begin! That’s all you need to do!

These are my top recommendations. Now I’ll list all the recommendations I received. These are from around 40 of my friends which means each of them must have suggested what they thought to be the best. I’ll list them on the basis of Streaming Platforms.

BEST NETFLIX SERIES TO WATCH (POPULAR OPINION)

  • Money Heist – “About a heist, planned robbery, investigation ” This one had the most number of talkers. I got long messages as to why they were hooked to it and when I expressed my doubts about why I may not like it, I was admonished by plenty of people.
  • Dark (German) – Thriller, Drama, Mystery, Science Fiction, Supernatural. I started watching this German series and I’m into the 3rd episode. It’s really spooky but also a little slow. I can bear the pace as the build up they’ve given is worth the time.
  • Sex Education – Highschool, Coming of age. I was told that they’ve handled the theme of sex education really well. I am looking forward to watching it.
  • Unbelievable – Rape Investigation
  • Mindhunter – Based on true events in  70s FBI Behavioral Science Unit
  • The 100 – Space, survival and sci-fi – 5-6 seasons
  • Chambers – Horror and mystery – 1 season
  • Riverdale – Highschool drama, mystery, based on Archie comic characters – 4 seasons The mist – Based on Stephen hawking novel –  1 season
  • The Rain – Man induced disaster – 2 seasons
  • She
  • Ozark
  • Taj Mahal 1989
  • Sense 8
  • Altered carbon
  • That 70s Show
  • Peaky Blinders
  • The Witcher
  • Pandemic
  • Lost in Space

BEST WEB SERIES TO WATCH IN AMAZON PRIME

  • Fleabag  – Quick paced and dark humor
  • The Boys –  Superhero fiction, dark comedy, Thriller, Action fiction
  • CSI – Crime Scene Investigation
  • Breathe

BEST WEB SERIES TO WATCH IN HOTSTAR

  • Luther -Crime film, suspense, drama, police procedural, psychological thriller
  • Killing Eve
  • Chernobyl

I know that this is a huge list of Web series! You must be thinking that it contains every show on Netflix. Trust me! It doesn’t. I have seen quite a few crappy shows in there. So I think you’re safe. I’d suggest that you start with The i-land if you haven’t watched it already and then find your way through this list.  I hope they keep you sane during the lock-down.

Meanwhile, please let me know your one favorite TV show along with why that is so and where I can watch it. If it’s magic and fantasy, then perfect! No Horror, please!

 


This post is a part of April A2Z Challenge 2020 with Blogchatter. Every day of April, I will be publishing one post on the Theme, ‘Life in the time of Coronavirus’. If you like my writings, you can also follow me on Instagram at @afew.handpickedthings.


A Few Handpicked Things doesn’t claim ownership to any of the images used in this post. They all belong to the respective makers.

Home Coming and Hugs

My sister joined her first job at Google in Oct 2019. Following the Chinese New Year Holidays, she came home in Jan and soon after that, the world was rapidly reporting cases of Coronavirus. Flights were being cancelled, China was reeling under the virus attack and we decided that her going back wasn’t an option. After lots of confusions and a few meetings, she got permission to work from Bangalore Google office. I was working in Bangalore too and so she came to stay with me.

Meanwhile, I had been attending interviews and finally landed a new job. My life was crazy for a couple of months. The work pressure, the pressure of not really enjoying the work anymore, the pressure of attending interviews every other day while ensuring that I was performing my duties well at work, had all gotten me into a state of frenzy. On 11th Mar, I shifted my house from one end of Bangalore to the other, and moved closer to my new workplace. The whole shifting and arranging got me so exhausted and with my old job almost wrapped up, I decided to go to my hometown, Kochi, to be with my family. By then India had quite a few cases of Coronavirus and the rest of the world was going crazy.

I remember my journey home. I was paranoid. I had booked a sleeper bus.  I normally carry my own bed sheet as I have dust allergy and the sheets in buses and trains are always so dusty. I spread my bed sheet on the sleeper. I woke up every few hours panicking because the sheet had moved and I had come in contact with the bed and hence, Coronavirus! Great! Now, I was exhausted from all the work AND paranoid! Finally I told myself that the panic wasn’t going to stop me from contracting the virus, so I might as well go to sleep.

As I reached home, my grandmother was pleasantly shocked to see me. I hadn’t really informed her that I was going home as it was a last minute decision. She stared at me for a while as though trying to comprehend and said,

“You keep fooling me in the name of surprising me. Come here!”, she extended her hands for a hug. I remember that moment so vividly. She had just gotten up, her eyes were sleepy, her silver hair disheveled, her naughty smile playing on her lips, clearly happy that her granddaughter was home and she stood there like a baby, asking for a hug. I didn’t hug her.

“I have traveled for long and it is risky.” I said my heart heavy while I badly wanting to hug her and she understood.

Meanwhile, my sister called me up that very same day and told me that a person at her work place who had returned from Greece, was tested positive and that the company had asked everyone to work from home. She knew that it was easier telling me than telling our parents, as they’d panic. It was a confusing ten minutes. To be clear, my sister did not have any contact with the guy as he was on a different floor and he was in office only for 2 hours after he came back from Greece and she hadn’t gone to office that day. The chances that she or anyone else (apart from the ones in direct contact with him) contracted the virus were almost zero.

She had two choices: Either to come home and stay in quarantine or to just stay in Bangalore. But her room did not have any cooking facility and we worried that there might come a point where she wouldn’t get anything to eat. Besides, we believed in Kerala government’s crisis control mechanisms better than anyone else. I’m not putting any State down here. Through various crisis over the years – be it Nipah or floods – we have seen the efficiency and we just believe more in the Government. So we asked her to come home immediately. To be on the safer side, we dropped my 86 year old Grandmother at my Uncle’s place before my sister came home because travel from Bangalore had its risks too.

The plan was that once my sister reached Kochi, I’ll take her to the hospital, get her tested and then go home (or be quarantined if that becomes necessary). At that point of time, we didn’t know anything about testing for Coronavirus. We assumed that if we had any doubts, we could just go and get ourselves tested.

But soon we found out that it didn’t work that way. As there were very few cases back then, all monitored by the Health officials, the people traveling between states were asked to quarantine themselves at home. However all were required to inform the Health officials if they traveled between States. Only if they showed any symptoms would they be tested. And thus started our long days of home quarantine because it was necessary, it was the right thing to do and if we all did it right, we’d soon win over the virus. But it wasn’t that easy, was it?

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Image Courtesy

It has been 28 days since we dropped Ammamma off at Uncle’s place. I haven’t hugged her yet. I am beginning to miss her warm, cosy hug that smells of Vicco cream and Mysore sandal soap. I never considered myself to be a hugs person. But now, there’s nothing more I want than to see her and hug her.

 


This post is a part of April A2Z Challenge 2020 with Blogchatter. Every day of April, I will be publishing one post on the Theme, ‘Life in the time of Coronavirus’. If you like my writings, you can also follow me on Instagram at @afew.handpickedthings.

Featured Photo by Rod Long on Unsplash

 

Go Corona, Corona Go!!! Some Funny Covidiotic Moments.

Covidiot (noun) – Someone who ignores the warnings regarding public health or safety.
A person who hoards goods, denying them from their neighbors.
“Did you see that covidiot with 300 rolls of toilet paper in his basket?”
Source: Urban Dictionary

As Covid 19 majorly spread across countries, this was a new word coined as it was need of the hour! We must admit. The world has all kinds of people and India has slightly genetically modified version of all kinds of people. We have the front-line soldiers – the medics – fighting the virus. We have the police still monitoring the streets. There is a huge list of people doing their best to fight the virus. There are people like me who haven’t left our homes for three weeks. There are millions of unprivileged souls suffering in the streets. There are people I had mentioned in my earlier post, doing their fair share to remain safe; drinking cow urine, alcohol, bathing in cow dung, doing the 10 seconds holding the breath test. But, we do have more!

How can the story of Pandemic be complete without emphasizing on some really interesting endeavors on the part of the people to get rid of Corona?

“Corona Go! Corona Go! Go Corona! Go Corona!”

This is minister Ramdas Athawale at a prayer meeting chanting ‘Corona Go’ while the people around him repeat after him. Amidst the memes and backlash that followed, there was one comment that cracked me up and left me bewildered at the same time. It said, “Why is he cheering the Coronavirus!?” I mean, I do believe in vibrations and universe listening to us, but what if the Universe decides to take it in that sense and just encourages the virus?

Anyhow, the slogan did become catchy soon. Not in the way the minister hoped, but more like a Honey Singh song; meaningless mostly and a mockery of sorts against a section of the society that is actually trying to do something helpful during these times.

Meanwhile The Prime Minister urged all Indians to acknowledge the tireless efforts of the Health workers in the country by either clapping hands or banging plates at 5 PM on 22nd Mar 2020. While many questioned the purpose of this, people left us spell-bound with their sheer covidiocy. Videos of people thronging the roads dancing and banging vessels and drums were doing the rounds after 22nd.

This was followed by the PM’s next announcement in less than two weeks. This time, the instructions were simple and it really couldn’t have gone wrong. On 5th Apr 2020 at 9 PM, all of us had to switch off the lights for 9 minutes and light lamps. Ahh! We are Indians and lighting lamps or candles are religiously followed in most Hindu/Christian households during evening prayers. We just need to do the same thing at 9 PM. Easy right? Nooooooooo!

While the TV channels were busy covering how the entire nation so beautifully came together in unison to switch of electric lights and light lamps, Whatsapp was having a field day sharing – come on! You can guess it! – people dancing on the streets with candles and torches, and sending out fireworks. A thatched hut in Jaipur caught fire after a stray firecracker fell on it. We are suffering from a huge case of Dennis the Menace and while the whole world is burning down you can’t help but laugh at the group you’re stuck with!

A Building in Vaishali, Jaipur on fire as a stray fire-cracker fell on a hut next to it! Image Courtesy

Oh! All of these activities did have “Go Corona! Corona Go!” in the background. Now you know why BGMs make things more fun!

By now, we had our new set of jokes ready and can’t help but appreciate how close to reality this one was. The whole scenario is like a case of Big Boss. We Indians are all stuck at home and The Big Boss – in this case Modiji – appears, gives us tasks and leaves. I made one too. The Challenge given by Modiji was to light lamps. What you see above is the tiktok version. 😛 Not the best joke, but still good because it has tiktok in it!

Meanwhile, more serious plans were brewing to kill Coronavirus. Seriously! Not joking! In Bareilly, Uttar Pradesh, after asking the migrant workers to close their eyes and mouth and also of their children’s, fire department officials were seen spraying disinfectants on the migrant workers. As per Bareilly’s district magistrate, “The officials were asked to sanitize the buses but in their enthusiasm they sprayed the workers too.” You really need one hell of an enthusiasm to be able to simply spray chemicals on people! I’d love me a bottle of that enthusiasm for my dull days. Well, needless to say, the twitterati had a field day.

We have been talking about making Coronavirus ‘Go’. But now, for a minute let’s not think of asking it to leave. What? But why? Well, because some artsy people are making coronavirus themed art work and selling them on Etsy! Not artwork related to coronavirus, but the virus itself! From coronavirus crochet work to plushies, apparently there is a supply of artifacts that has the face of the current apocalypse. Now let me ask the question I have feared to ask. Who’s taking them home willingly?

Baby Coronavirus Amigurumi  Made To Order image 0
Here’s Coronavirus Amigurumi for You! You can buy this if you click that link. Really!

Note: Here’s my opinion on PM Modi’s tasks. It’s like in your office, your HR asking you to wear same color clothes on a random day. I don’t see the point. But I’ll do it because if I don’t, I’ll be dampening the spirits. Besides, it is a harmless activity. That was me. I understand it is important to be together, keep up the morale, encourage the front-line soldiers yada yada, but let us look at the reality! I have a hundred questions!

Are the health care officials getting safe gears? Are they given enough care? As long as I see, mobs are attacking them, they are being shunned from their societies due to fear of infection, and in Mumbai a hospital has been shut down because the health care officials themselves have fallen sick. Why is that? Wasn’t the gear good enough? Are they being tested for frequently? Is the vessel banging and lamp lighting a joke to the people? If so, is it serving the purpose of bringing positivity and encouragement or is it giving an opportunity for the people to dance in the streets? Is the cost outweighing the benefits?

Sometimes it isn’t just about questioning the Government. It is also about seeking answers. The answer staring at my face right now is that we have made a big joke out of this disaster!

So tell me this. If you could get rid of the virus in either ways, will you rather bring a Coronavirus shaped keychain home or chant “Go corona! Corona Go!” throughout the day and dance?


This post is a part of April A2Z Challenge 2020 with Blogchatter. Every day of April, I will be publishing one post on the Theme, ‘Life in the time of Coronavirus’. If you like my writings, you can also follow me on Instagram at @afew.handpickedthings.

Featured Image was a forward received on Whatsapp and so the owner is untraceable.

Busting Myths and Fake News on Covid – 19

Mabud Ali earns a living by selling cow’s milk. He has two cows; an Indian and a Jersey. But now he has an additional income. He sells 1 Kg of cow dung for Rs. 500 and 1 liter of cow urine for Rs. 500 on the streets of West Bengal, all thanks to Coronavirus. In Gujarat, Raju Patel used to sell about 80 bottles of Gaumutra (cow urine) on a daily basis. But after the Coronavirus, the demand has gone up to around 425 bottles a day. People believe that Gaumutra boosts immunity and amidst the Coronavirus, the belief and panic has increased manifold. In some places, it is also used to manufactures body spray to keep the microbes away.

Among other things, the people, the health workers and the government have had to battle Fake News and Misinformation that comes with the calamity. People get believable info graphics, links or screenshots that tell them how to be safe during these times and without second thoughts they share them to their loved ones. They think they are helping others but in fact, they are causing more and increasing panic at certain times.

While cow urine consumption isn’t new in India, there’s no scientific proof that it could keep the virus at bay. Considering the unhygienic lifestyle in rural areas, it really isn’t ideal drinking an animal’s urine during these times, no matter how holy or medicinal it is claimed to be.

A cow urine consumption programme was organized in North Kolkata with claims that consuming cow urine will protect people from Coronavirus and cure the ones that have already contracted the disease. BJP West Bengal chief has admitted that he drinks cow urine and that he has no qualms in doing so. A local party worker in West Bengal organized a cow worship programme and distributed urine thereby vouching for its miraculous properties. One among those who drank the urine was admitted to hospital as he suffered from nausea and vomiting. In Chitradurga district of Karnataka, few men decided to bathe in cow dung and cow urine as a process of sanitizing themselves to keep Coronavirus at bay.

Credits – Newsflare

If you have had enough of cow dung and urine, I have fresh content shared by the Whatsapp University (that’s a fake university). If it’s still not clear, you aren’t supposed to believe any of the below-mentioned points because we are discussing Fake News and Misinformation here (I need to break down my jokes during these times):

  • Right from the beginning, an easy Test for Coronavirus was being circulated. If you can hold your breath for 10 seconds without difficulty, you don’t have Coronavirus. Now imagine if people tried this, couldn’t hold their breaths and freaked out! This test was proved to be fake.mb-breathing-exercice.jpg
  • There was an advisory from UNICEF to avoid ice creams and cold food as coronavirus cannot spread in areas of 27 degrees or more. Again, wrong information!
  • Videos of men being shot, bodies lying on streets, large number of bodies being disposed etc, were being circulated along-with write ups that associated them with coronavirus. Some of them were debunked and found to be old video clips or clips from movie scenes.
  • I received a link titled, “Chinese Intelligence Officer Reveals True Magnitude of China’s Fake Coronavirus Crisis”. It talked about a camp in China where they biological agents were being developed and human experimentation was being conducted. The article described at lengths the effect of these agents and went on to explain that the agent leaked from the lab. It began to spread, causing symptoms of flu and that people were made to believe that it was the ‘Coronavirus’. I remember reading this super long article and freaking out half way through as it got more and more grotesque.
    However, it only took one Google search to understand that the article was a horror fiction originally published in a section of reddit, dedicated to scary fiction stories. These posts are made to seem realistic and the users in this platform have to comment on them as if they were real. But the moment the article leaves its source without any additional footnote, it creates havoc as the writings are so realistic, extremely detailed and intense. When I received the link, the adjoining message read, ‘Read this article before it gets deleted by Google’ which is reason enough to freak out!
  • Another forward talked about how Alcohol consumption could keep the virus at bay. Since hand sanitizers with alcohol content could kill the virus, people automatically assumed that cosuming alcohol should be the final solution.

There were many more simple home remedies that were suggested to kill coronavirus and finally WHO, the Central and State Governments decided to burst the myths.

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From the Website of WHO

During these days when information is available even when we don’t need it, and the number of uneducated people and well meaning people in a state of panic are high, it will be difficult to differentiate right from wrong. People can’t be blamed for believing it. But we are at fault when we forward the message without fact-checking. The simplest tool at your disposal is google.

But most importantly, follow the directives of the State Government, Central Government or the World Health Organization. You will find all you need to know about Coronavirus in their website. Let us be responsible human beings.

So what are some of the myths that you heard?



Today’s movie recommendation for you – Iruvar – a Tamil classic that spewed a lot of controversy in Tamil Nadu during its release.


This post is a part of April A2Z Challenge 2020 with Blogchatter. Every day of April, I will be publishing one post on the Theme, ‘Life in the time of Coronavirus’. If you like my writings, you can also follow me on Instagram at @afew.handpickedthings.

Images are all from the website of WHO

What Comes to Your Mind When I Say Essential Services?

Can you list any 5 things that come to your mind when I say Essential Services? I would really appreciate if you could put the answer in the comment section at the end of the post once you’re done reading.

Coronavirus is a list of blatant truths staring at our faces. But today, I’ll just pick one truth to deal with. How many of those elite white collar jobs are being considered essential right now? Let me start with my kind – The Chartered Accountants. Most of the companies have shut down. They have no sales for about a month now and there are almost no audits happening. I know that we’ll overcome this and we’ll require the CA services. I am not demeaning any job. I am only pointing out that we don’t give much value to the crucial things in life.

Let us look at the essential services that are still running – The Doctors, Nurses AND the cleaning staff, the Pharmacists, the Police, the Bank Employees, the shops selling necessities, the grocers, the food delivery guys, the truck-drivers, the crematorium and so on. I know that the list is inexhaustible. But the services we’re highly dependent on are the ones that give us food, keep us healthy, handle our money and dispose the dead! Additionally, since we lack ethics, the Police becomes the essential sector because we’ve reduced education to ‘means to earn a living’ rather than ‘means to life’.

Doctors and Health workers are being attacked in different parts of the country. In Indore, a mob attacked doctors who went to take samples of coronavirus suspects; the very same doctors who are right now sacrificing their lives to save hundred other lives. In Karnataka, Health workers who were identifying persons with symptoms were attacked by mob and robbed of their phones and wallets.

The farmers still have to work if we need food to eat because, let’s admit it! We don’t have the basic life skills. I know how to file an Income Tax Return. But I don’t know how to grow my food. And here I am in the comfort of my house, while the farmers who have led the most difficult and unstable lives are still at a loss. During calamities, they lose all their crops. Many of them quit, go to other states and become construction workers because making buildings give them a more stable income than cultivating crops. Those very same migrant workers went home a few weeks back because, Coronavirus. Such a mess! How do we set this right?

Let me go back to the question in the beginning of the post. Can you list any 5 things that come to your mind when I say Essential Services? Did any of you mention arts?

How many times have you turned to music and books when you were heart broken or felt neglected? It is amazing how we turn to music, movies and arts when we are at our worst and yet we never considered them as Essential. Granted! Some might argue that art isn’t technically a service, but it is indeed a service to the mankind. Imagine life without art.

In the privileged world, the demand for art has gone up all of a sudden. People are resorting to movies, TV shows, music, and books and while the consumption of art has skyrocketed, the creation has seen an unusual increase too. I see more people getting into yoga, cooking, writing, photography, dance, and painting both traditional and digital. While the lockdown is painful, people are sane because of art!

A few days back, I came across a new page on Instagram called ‘Art of Covid Days’.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by arts of covid days (@artsofcoviddays) on

Ever since it was made, it has been flooding with artwork from around the globe. Another wonderful pattern that I saw during these days was artists finding artists, appreciating them, and collaborating with them. The social distancing have brought people together through art. I myself wrote a story with the help of a friend’s photographs; a collaboration that wouldn’t have happened if not for this quarantine.

Running to art for an escape has been the human pattern and art has always helped you heal.

Dead Poets Society
We’ve all heard it. We’ve all read it. Have we all agreed?

Now let me ask you this. What if this whole thing is a warning to show us how wrong we were? And the answer to it is that we need to change the patterns. If we don’t, what comes next will be bigger; made to end us. We need to make farmers’ lives better. We need better educators and an education system that prepares us for life. People in blue collar jobs must be encouraged, rather than looked down upon. The world should aim for a day when there will be more Teachers and less Police. Because if you bring them up right, they won’t need much correction, right?

Now tell me, what comes to your mind when I say essential services?


This post is a part of April A2Z Challenge 2020 with Blogchatter. Every day of April, I will be publishing one post on the Theme, ‘Life in the time of Coronavirus’. If you like my writings, you can also follow me on Instagram at @afew.handpickedthings.

Featured Photo by Austin Kehmeier on Unsplash

Day 8 of Quarantine

Here’s Day 8 of Quarantine for you.

Finally I had gotten a break.
I can now read, watch movies,
write, paint…
Wasn’t that the dream?

I’ll admit, it was fun in the beginning.
There were jokes.
Lots of them.
Gradually it stopped being fun.
I started thinking.
It was like a mass time out
that God had given to all of us.
To think.
To reflect!

It took me seven days to get here,
to this point.
To think about how lucky we are
to be able to stay at home,
safe while the cops scour the streets
day in and day out,
and the doctors and nurses tend to the ill,
putting their own lives at risk.
Then I began thinking of how
I’ve running water and soap
to wash my hands,
how I’ve a roof above my head
and enough space for social distancing,
how my life won’t just stop all at once
if I don’t work for a month,
how at some point,
all of this
stopped being a joke.

How right now,
in one part of the same world
there’s a grandmother in a hospital
yearning to see her grand children one last time.
There’re children
begging to be with their parents
or at least talk to them over the phone,
and there’s a nurse whose heart’s breaking,
And considering giving her phone.
There are doctors and nurses
choosing who’ll die
because they really don’t have enough resources
to cater to anyone.
Imagine having to choose
Who gets to live (die) today.
Imagine just laying there in a hospital with
no loved ones around
and waiting to die.
I am not among them!
And I didn’t even do anything
to deserve this luxury I have right now!
In return,
all I am asked,
is to STAY AT HOME!
And guess what!?
I’ve the luxury
to whine.

About staying at home!

~Ranjini
25.03.2020

The Featured image was an art installation from Kochi Muzuris Biennale 2018 and I couldn’t help but see the strong resemblance to The Coronavirus Pandemic.

Today’s series suggestion for you – The Good Place (Netflix). It is a light hearted watch.


This post is a part of April A2Z Challenge 2020 with Blogchatter. Every day of April, I will be publishing one post on the Theme, ‘Life in the time of Coronavirus’. If you like my writings, you can also follow me on Instagram at @afew.handpickedthings.

Controversies That Might Have Worsened COVID – 19

Any Calamity is bad in itself. There are so many different sections of the society that work tirelessly to fight a calamity. But it isn’t the calamity alone that they have to overcome. A million other factors pop-up in between. Some of them might be the direct effects trickling down but some of them are completely unforeseen and mostly man-made.

The initial days of the Coronavirus/COVID-19 disease did see a lot of difficulties that partly contributed to the virus going out of control and not surprisingly, it began in China, the epicenter of the disease. This material has been gathered after going through multiple articles online. If you’d like to go into the details, you can find the links of the various sources from which I compiled these.

  1. Doctor Li Wenliang – I had mentioned this name in my previous post. This 34 year old doctor, on 30th December, wrote in a private chat group containing medics about 7 cases of patients with SARS like symptoms that were reported. Soon he confirmed that it was a certain type of Coronavirus infection. He asked the doctors and their families to take protective measures. However, the information began spreading and on 3rd Jan, he was summoned by the Police and was given a warning notice for ‘making false comments on the internet’. He was informed that if this was be repeated, he would be prosecuted.
    Doctor Li Wenliang
    Doctor Li Wenliang

    Li contracted the virus on 8th Jan. He published his experience, with the police, on social media and while he had promised that he’d recover and return to fight the disease, he died of it on 7th February. It caused considerable grief and anguish among the people. “The hashtag #wewantfreedomofspeech gained over 2 million views and over 5,500 posts within 5 hours before it was removed by the censors, as were other related hashtags and posts.” Source : Wikipedia.

  2. After the first act of suppression, for a long time it was believed that the virus was contracted only by the people who visited the Wuhan market. WHO, till Jan 14th, reported that there was no clear evidence of human to human transmission. However on 15th Jan, the Wuhan Municipal Health commission said that the possibility couldn’t be ruled out. After this, on 18th Jan, Annual Wuhan Lunar New Year banquet, where thousands of people gathered, was held.

    Clearly, people weren’t warned on time, a lot of information was withheld, and anybody who disclosed any information became a ‘rumormonger’ and disciplined. If the people were warned and measures were taken at least a week earlier, it wouldn’t have come to this. Because it was on Jan 23rd that Wuhan declared a lock-down and precisely on that very day, around 5 million people left the city without being screened for the illness. (Source – nytimes and axios)

  3. The disease began to erupt in various parts of the world. However considering the population of China and the rate of spread of the virus in the other parts of the world, a suspicion arose as to whether China was under-reporting the numbers of infected cases and deaths. There are several reasons for this, such as:
    a) Initially China reported only the severely affected cases.
    b) Deaths after being diagnosed with the virus was reported while the reports of people collapsing in the streets and homes before diagnosing weren’t included.
    c) There were unofficial reports that several funeral homes were handing out 500 funeral urns with the remains of suspected COVID-19 patients daily for 12 days (Source – TIME)
  4. Meanwhile, there were some other sections of the society that was suffering; the Asians in various parts of the world. Some Uber drivers in US as well as Uber riders, have reported discrimination. Some riders do not want to pick up riders of Asian origin and some riders cancel the ride as soon as they see that the driver has an Asian name.

    In Sydney, a footage of a 19 year old woman yelling at two Asians girls who were crossing the road. She’s heard saying, “Stay away from them, they’ve got Coronavirus.”

    In Israel, an Indian origin man was mistaken to be a Chinese and beaten up by two Israelis. They screamed ‘Corona! Corona!’ while beating him up and weren’t willing to listen to him when he was saying that he wasn’t a Chinese.

    Who would have thought that during these difficult times, people could harbor so much of hatred!

  5. Let’s come to India. Mujeeb Muhammed who was an Infosys employee posted on his Facebook page, “Let’s join hands, go out and sneeze with open mouth in public. Spread the virus.” Infosys sacked him after investigating into the matter.

While I am no one to comment on the governance of a country, the last two scenarios of the way people behave during a pandemic baffles me. You won’t believe! I came home from Bangalore well before the number of cases increased in India and I kept wondering if I should go and get myself tested. I wasn’t showing any symptoms. But I didn’t want to take any chances. Not because I was scared for my life, but for the people around me. That’s how cautious most of us are!

Phew! This series is going darker than I anticipated.


Let me end my posts with a movie/series suggestion that you can use during these lock-down days : Five Feet Apart (Movie – Netflix & YouTube)


This post is a part of April A2Z Challenge 2020 with Blogchatter. Every day of April, I will be publishing one post on the Theme, ‘Life in the time of Coronavirus’. If you like my writings, you can also follow me on Instagram at @afew.handpickedthings.

Image Courtesy: Dr. Li Wenliang – nytimes,
Featured Image by engin akyurt on Unsplash

THE BEGINNING

Life in the Time of Coronavirus

If you haven’t read, here is the post from Day 1 of the April A2Z Challenge: Ambiance setting.

THE BEGINNING: The Australian Bushfires that began in June 2019 and peaked to catastrophic levels in Dec 19-Jan 2020 was finally contained by Mar 2020. I being in India, didn’t really know or think about the intensity of it because I wasn’t directly associated with it. And so, when I read about those fires in the news that burnt about 4.6 Cr acres, killed about 1 billion animals and around 34 humans, I was shocked. I followed the news for a while, watched some scarring videos on social media that voiced strongly that the climate change was staring in our eyes as a result of our irresponsible ways of life and shared them because I knew it was true. I shared gruesome pictures of burnt, dying animals, and shared stories of humans rescuing them so that someone else, not me, but someone else who would read it would see how they are ruining the planet and would do something solid about it. Then, they would share it. And soon, I went on about my life (just like I would do after writing this post) while the bush fires that were still burning and killing lives, were forgotten.

Why I am talking about the Bushfires right now?

I walked into my office one January morning and the friend who always has a news tab open in his laptop, told me about a virus that had been detected in China. I wasn’t shocked. The last 10 years had multiple viruses surfacing in different parts of the world. Much like the bushfires, we heard the news of the new virus, learnt a bit about it, felt scared, felt sorry and then let it go.

It was called The Novel Coronavirus.

Initially we thought it was restricted to just China and we didn’t pay much heed. My sister who was working in Taiwan had come home for the Chinese New Year. Since she knew people from that area, she was more informed about the situation. That is how it is, isn’t it? If you are associated with a place that’s going through tough times, you know the plight of the people there. It is through her that I realized that the situation in China was gruesome!

The Beginning of the Beginning – China

The first cases of Coronavirus in Wuhan, China became apparent in early Dec. However, since an epidemic wasn’t anticipated, the symptoms weren’t taken very seriously. Gradually, the number of cases began increasing. By Mid-December, a 34 year old Doctor, Li Wenliang had warned a few medics about some of his patients showing SARS-like symptoms. But his warning was considered a rumor. Later we would hear the news of his sad demise from the very same virus he had warned about.

Within a week of Li’s warning, he’s proved right however it was believed that the virus was spread only through animals. It wasn’t until the 3rd week of January that the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission admitted to the possibility off limited human-to-human contact (Source – Livemint).

Photo by Adli Wahid on Unsplash
Photo by Adli Wahid on Unsplash

From Jan 23rd restrictions were imposed in Wuhan on the movement of people. Temperatures were checked, travel history of every resident was logged and China went on a mass lock-down and took several other measures. The number of cases skyrocketed with each passing day. But while China was actively working towards curbing its cases, you know the flurry of people that flew from and to China between December 8th and Jan 23rd. The Bush-fires might have been restricted to Australia, but the Coronavirus wasn’t restricted to China. And that is why I am writing these posts now!

KERALA, INDIA – The Beginning

3 students traveling from Wuhan to Kerala were the first positive cases of Coronavirus in India. They were quarantined and the Kerala Government declared a ‘State Calamity warning’. Countries started to lock down their airports and India set out to bring back our people, who were stranded in different parts of the world starting with Wuhan.

China had been appealing to countries against evacuation following which Pakistan decided not to evacuate its citizens. Pakistan cited multiple reasons of which one was that during these times it wanted to stand with its “all-weather ally” (China)[Source: The Diplomat]. But none of this assuaged the grief of the Pakistani community stranded in Wuhan and that is understandable. If you’re sick or if there is a state of emergency, you’d rather be home than be elsewhere. And as the Pakistani students watched helplessly, their counterparts from the other countries were being evacuated. I imagined myself in the shoes of those students in Wuhan and the parents in Pakistan. I wanted to add this part here to show how various countries reacted to the situation and how we were beginning to get a glimpse of the various colors the world was turning into.

WhatsApp Image 2020-04-01 at 9.32.51 PM
By Jan 31st, Coronavirus/ Covid-19 had been declared a global emergency.

Featured Image by Fusion Medical Animation on Unsplash


This post is a part of April A2Z Challenge 2020 with Blogchatter. Every day of April, I will be publishing one post on the Theme, ‘Life in the time of Coronavirus’. If you like my writings, you can also follow me on Instagram at @afew.handpickedthings.

Ambiance Setting

Life in the time of Coronavirus

31st March 2020

I haven’t left my house in fourteen days! I am not allowed to leave the house. No one is. Not just in my home, but in my district, in the State or in the Country. There is a nation-wide curfew that has been declared.

I wake up at 11 am, to silence.

The day has already begun and I moan as I see the time. I wanted to wake up at 8 am, do some exercise and feel the fresh morning air. But every night, I keep the alarm and switch it off immediately. What am I going to do anyway after waking up at eight in the morning?

Amma is a Bank Manager and so, work from home isn’t an option for her. Those in the essential services can leave the house provided they have proof. We’d want her to stay at home, safe, like us. But that is not an option for her. However, these days she only has to go on alternate days. She leaves for office by 9 am and returns by 5 pm.

My sister on the other hand, works from home and so, of the 3 bedrooms in the house, she has turned one into her office, temporarily. She works until about 5 or 6 pm. My Dad’s company, not being an essential sector is closed for now and work from home isn’t an option for his job profile. So he spends his day reading newspaper, doing chores, watching TV and YouTube videos, practicing his drums, reading spiritual books or sleeping. During evenings he watches the CM’s press release and then goes out for a walk, just around the apartment.

Now, for me. I am between jobs and so I do not have a work from home situation. I have the whole day to myself which means all those things I have wanted to do, I can do them now! So though not in this order, my day consists of any combination of painting, reading, singing, writing, and exercising (when I finally convince myself to). A life that I have dreamt of I would say. But just one small glitch. I cannot leave the house.

Nobody leaves the house unless it is absolutely necessary. The maid doesn’t come, the lady who collects the waste doesn’t come, and the milk guy doesn’t come. Even if someone does go out, we ensure that we don’t touch them when they are back. He/she is supposed to wash his/her hands with soap, for twenty seconds. When we order food, we are wary of the contact with the food delivery guy. We immediately dispose the covers and wash our hands with soap, for twenty seconds.

I am living in an apartment that generally gets super-noisy due to all the children. These days, I hear the birds clearer than ever, the canal and the woods from my window look so eerie and unbelievably beautiful and if you sit quietly and listen, you can hear the silence trying to communicate to you.

A view from My Apartment
Nature thriving during these times

 

Suppose someone tells you that you can have just about anything that you want in your life, but on one condition. You cannot leave the house. Will you take it?

I’m pretty sure people who have been through 2020 will say a loud and clear NO.

All of this is the doing of a virus that erupted in a market in Wuhan, China in Dec 2019. And we thought apocalypse meant screaming monsters, floods and mass earthquakes!

 


 

This post is a part of April A2Z Challenge 2020 with Blogchatter. Every day of April, I will be publishing one post on the Theme, ‘Life in the time of Coronavirus’. If you like my writings, you can also follow me on Instagram at @afew.handpickedthings.

April A2Z Challenge – Theme Reveal

Hola Everybody!

This year, I am participating in the April A2Z Challenge along with Blogchatter.

For those of you who are here for the first time, I am Ranjini, a Chartered Accountant from Kerala, working in Bangalore. I have been blogging since 2010. If you like my writings, you can also follow me on Instagram – afew.handpickedthings where I write more frequently.

Before I go into the details of the April A2Z Challenge, here are a couple of things you need to know:

  1. I am blogging after Oh so long! And I thought this April A2Z Challenge would be an opportunity to get back into blogging and connect with my old blog buddies and make some new ones.
  2. This is the first time I’m participating in the A2Z Challenge. And while I know that it’s not going to be easy, I’m bent upon seeing this through.

What is A2Z Challenge?

Every day of April (Except Sundays), I will be posting one article starting with each letter of the Alphabet for 26 days. So I’ll start with an article whose title begins with A on 1st April, B on 2nd April and so on until 30th April when the title would begin with Z. If you enter your email address on the right side of this page, you’ll get a mail whenever I publish a post.

LIFE IN THE TIME OF CORONAVIRUS

Life in the Time of Coronavirus

There! No drum rolls, no trumpets, just some blatant theme reveal. Ever since Coronavirus wreaked havoc in our lives, I decided that I wanted to write about how human life has been disrupted by this disease. It would be akin to a diary entry of how we humans are surviving this pandemic; on a personal level, as a community, and as responsible citizens.

Maybe ten years down the lane, we’d look back in awe at how we fought this together.

I’m looking forwarded to making this compilation, as crisp and interesting as possible. I hope each of you coming to this blog of mine would come back for more. Until then, stay safe, stay at home, wash your hands, be kind and make good use of this curfew time.

Reflection of the Creator

He stealthily painted the skies, the clouds, the hills and trees and right when he was rinsing his paint brush at the pond, I caught him.

Red-handed.

Or rather Silver handed, as the color of the Sun was dripping from his paintbrush, leaving the pond in a shimmery silvery-grey hue almost like a portal into another world.

His shirt was Earth colored, his hair was a nest with twigs and dried leaves tangled amidst them, his eyes shone with passion from all the beauty around him that he had created, his feet was slick with mud, his hand was dripping silver and beneath his arms and on his back, his shirt had a wet patch of melted snow.

Before I could reach him, he dived into the waters, and vanished into the pool of silver-grey that he had created from his paint brush. I ran to the spot and waited for him to resurface, but as the minutes passed by, the ripples reduced, the surface of the water became clear and I stood there looking at the face staring back at me.

He was long gone into a world he had created with his paint brush. Leaving my reflection in his place. He was me. I was him. I just don’t see how, I just don’t see it yet.

The Perfect Crime Scene

The bouquet was taut in my hand

with a beautiful paper protecting it.
Or perhaps,

protecting my hands.

It was funny!

Why would my hands need protection now?

After all that I had been through!

I didn’t ask for it.

I didn’t want it. ‘You are married.

I am not the one you should give these to.’ Were words of little value.

I had shut the doors to my past

And he was banging them again now.

After having walked out through them

Without even a backward glance,

Deaf to my pleadings,

Blind to my tears.

What would have once given me immense joy,

was giving me so much pain now.

It was Valentine’s day.

And I was holding a bouquet of roses,

Red roses.

From the wrong person

From a married man.

I didn’t ask for it.

I didn’t want it. ‘Why?’ I had been through that.

A million times already.

It’s better not to go down that road.

It’s a cursed road.

I just keep going around in loops,

End up getting lost,

And cry.

What I know for sure is this.

I don’t want to ruin a life.

I don’t want to ruin a marriage.

I’d never ask for that

I’d never want that.

So I gradually unwrapped the bouquet.

Freed it of all the bondage,

Let the roses bare the thorns

And held onto them with both my hands

As my blood began to emerge

From between my fingers,

Forming a drop, two, three

And dripping onto the floor.

The pain made me forget the wound within

And I watched the roses turn redder.

I wanted that.

I moved to the petals.

Pulled them out one at a time.

And turned the bouquet into a graveyard.

Oh it was beautiful!

Burgundy blood drops on the floor,

Beginning to dry,

Fresh, soft petals lay scattered
Amidst green stems smeared with blood.

It was a perfect crime scene.

I stepped on the thorns

And on my blood,

And walked out the door,

Much like he had left me.

Not that I wanted to.

I had no choice.

Those flowers weren’t mine to keep

Not anymore.

This post is a part of BlogchatterA2Z and AprilA2Z challenge

Old, Eerie Souls

Grey
Old
Eerie
Brimming with stories
If you look carefully, you can see forms, like wisps of smoke trying to enter the house like humans do.
But they can’t.
They can’t open a door.
They cannot be given warm hugs and invited home.
They just pass through the walls.
Unseen.
Unheard.
They’ve no bodies
To hug
To be hugged.
They’re just forms.
Mere wisps of smoke
Made of memories,
Your longing for them gives them life.
And they’ll live until forgotten
They’ll try to become human
Until they accept that they can’t.

And sometimes,
Just sometimes,
You’ll see them.
At 3AM.
A slight movement in the curtains
A shadow in the corner of your eyes
You’ll hear them,
The sudden, soft ticking sound,
That woke you up while you were alone,
The odd, stray sound coming from near you,
When the world is asleep
And you’re the only one awake.

It’s them.
Trying to talk,
Hoping you’ll hear them.

Nothingness that Enbraces Me

PEELING PAINT

That long lost memory that resurfaces
Like a blow on your face,
And you are torn between wondering
Where the memory has been all this time
And the intensity of it.
You feel it all,
The way you felt it for the first time.

Only to feel so deeply and do nothing

That important thought that comes
As a revelation just before you wake up,
Deep down you know it’s so so important
Yet, you aren’t conscious enough to hold on to it
You drift back to sleep,
as it slips between your fingers
and out of reach.

Only to wake up and have nothing.

That idea that comes to you in your shower
With soap in your eyes,
With no access to paper,
But the idea just engulfs you,
All you can do is
marvel at your creation
And try to memorize every detail.

Only to step out of the shower and remember nothing.

That turn you take and lose your way,
Because it’s too familiar, too similar
To a path in another lifetime.
You take a step forward
The familiarity fades,
yet you shudder.
And suppress your emotions.

Only to realize that you have forgotten nothing.

That is how that person is, who becomes your world.
Whom you paint memories with,
All around your city,
in that theatre,
On that bench facing the waters.
You find the paint fading,
Over time, gradually, yet painfully.

Only to be left behind in a city tainted with his memories. #Peeling paint.