Life After Coronavirus – Awaiting the Sunrise and Zappy Days

I started this series, ‘Life in the time of coronavirus’ as a part of April’s A2Z challenge. Today happens to be the last day of the challenge and so, this must be my last update on the pandemic. I might write a concluding post after the whole thing dies down completely. But there won’t be anymore detailed posts on the various aspects of the Pandemic. I hope years from now people will be able to use these posts to know about an invisible enemy that this generation fought.

So, for the last time this month, here is the current update of Coronavirus cases globally and in India.

As on 30th Apr 2020
As on 29th Apr 2020

 

The Lock-down V.2 will supposedly end on May 3rd 2020. It is anticipated that movements within the districts will be allowed first, then on the basis of the Coronavirus cases, maybe with each week, inter-district and inter-state movement will become permissible.

Assuming that the country heals, the world heals, in a few months’ time, these tribulations will slowly be forgotten. Knowing myself and my kind, we’ll go back to living our lives. All the pain, the stories, and the sacrificed lives will have been for nothing.

I don’t want that. I want change.

I want to live better. I want to feel everything strongly. I want to stop wondering what people will think about me and my actions. I want to kiss like there’s no tomorrow. I want to look at someone as though I’m seeing them for the first time, in awe. I want to go to a quaint little cafe, sit in a corner, order some coffee, read a book and smile at strangers. I want to tell the lady across, that the leopard print top looks so good on her. I want to travel and get lost in the novelty of the unknown land.

I want to inspire people to live fully. I want people to know that the rules in their lives are the ones set by them. I want to teach children. I want to be responsible for another generation, inspire them and let them know that they aren’t insignificant, that their dreams can’t be reined, that they can have it all. That they can be successful without being arrogant, studious without being insensitive. That the education they’re getting are only a part of what they should get, that the real education is knowing how to behave, when to hold on and when to leave. I want them to know that learning needn’t always be to earn money. Learning can be for life, because you enjoy it, because you want to know more.

Where I am right now is only a path. Not a destination. Coronavirus is only a means, not an end. Like my father wrote in the post Uncommon Opinion: Finding the Utopia in this Dystopia, you have three ways of looking at this Coronavirus scenario:

  • You can look at it as a glitch, a bug or a disaster, which it is, and whine about it because of all the restrictions. (By no means is this aimed at the people who are genuinely affected. I am addressing the people like me who are simply stuck at home without many things to do and not much issues)
  • You can look at it as someone else’s problem, do nothing and wait for it to pass.
  • You can look at it as the time to invest in yourself or to make this Earth a happier place. A break in your life where you have been asked to look at how you’ve lived until now and decide to make some changes. YOU CAN come out of this a better person. All you need to do is set your mind to it!

Epidemics and Pandemics aren’t happening for the first time. We never remember any of them by the changes they brought about. Let Covid-19/Coronavirus change that narrative. Let this pandemic be known for moulding a generation of compassionate people who decided to change their lifestyles for the better. They learnt new skills, their eyes sparkled with kindness and they were the first of the many generations that came later, that looked inward for answers.

Let the future generation comprise of more value adding teachers rather than corrective policemen.

What changes would you want to see when this ends?

Featured Photo by Dawid Zawiła on Unsplash

Being My Own Creative Yardstick

I have loved writing poems, drawing and painting since I was a child. I knew the joy of creating from a very young age and creative high was real for me even before I knew what the feeling was called. At some point, it went out of control. I am someone who beats myself up if I am not productive. I just cannot sit and watch movies through the weekend and be happy about it. Come Sunday night, I’ll be depressed about the wasted weekend. It is a habit I am trying to break.

If I do something, I cannot put it out there unless I achieve a certain level of perfection. I wouldn’t even acknowledge that I am reasonably good at it. During this lock-down, I am trying to judge myself less, talk about myself more positively and exhibit my creativity more confidently. Once I began to aim at this change, I’ve seen a lot of positivity in myself.

I am trying to be happy about the things I do for my pleasure and to not judge myself for just being. So before I go any further, I’d like to let you, my readers, know that if you haven’t created or learnt anything during the lock-down, it is okay. You only have to make sure that you are content and happy.

Here are some satisfying things I have been doing during the lock-down. The aim is to create, improve lifestyle and feel good about all of it:

    1. April A2Z Challenge – I have been writing almost every day of April and today is the last day of the challenge. Here is my 26th post to end the challenge. I started blogging in 2010. I did blog regularly during my CA final, but there were years when I wrote less than 5 posts all year. I have been wanting to get back to blogging for a long time. So when April A2z challenge coincided with the lock-down, I decided to make the best use of it. I have not only successfully completed the challenge, I also intend to write one post every week.
    2. Baking – Banana cake and Chocolate Cake – I baked for the first time in my life. I have always wanted to learn baking. But it is now, while I moved to Bangalore, that we got an oven at home. Since I could spent over a month at home during the lock-down, I made up my mind to try my hands at baking. The banana cake came out amazing! But the chocolate cake needs improvement.
    3. Painting – I remember a friend telling me to just invest a few hours a month and paint something gorgeous. That at the end of the year I’ll have 12 grand paintings. Put that way, it sounded amazing. I’m inching towards it. But first I’m trying to get some footing in the world of paintings. Here are the ones I tried during lock-down; all acrylic:

      Acrylic Painting
    4. Yoga – This is one other area I want to excel in. However, I am far behind. I have managed to practice yoga at least every alternate days during the month and I can feel my flexibility getting better. I use the track yoga app as it makes it easy for a beginner.
    5. Reading – My reading habits have taken a huge dip over the past few years. I am trying to read every night before sleeping. I successfully finished a book during lock-down which is a big deal because I barely read 3-4 books last year. This year, I am aiming at ten.WhatsApp Image 2020-04-27 at 10.14.03 PM (2)
    6. Videos – I have always wanted to start a youtube channel. Something entertaining. So I have been trying to come up with videos occasionally. During the lock-down, my sister and I made a couple of good videos. However we shared just one. The latest one will be out by the end of this week once I am done with the editing. I am super excited about it.
    7. Music – I started learning carnatic music since I was 4 years old but stopped after I was 14. I have been on and off with singing. I have had so much of stage fear, lack of confidence and a certain prejudice towards my own voice that I barely sang all these years. Now I am beginning to pay more attention to music. I am practicing more, singing more and I feel that I am improving.

The world has so much beauty in it and there is so much you can do if you pay attention. As opposed to what some people believe, in some cases you don’t have to be born with a talent in order to create. You can always learn how to draw if you really want it and you can get good at it with practice. You can learn how to cook. How hard is it to measure a substance and add it to a vessel at the right time if you have a recipe? When people say they ‘can’t’ make food, it always means that they aren’t interested or they haven’t done it the right way.

Again, it is okay to not be interested in creativity as long as you’re happy. But saying that you have no skills as though you weren’t ‘given’ any is like complaining that you weren’t born knowing how to swim. If you can learn swimming, you have plenty of skills you can learn with effort. If there’s something you have been wanting to learn, now is the time to do it. In the end, you need to compete only with the old you.

 

Final Goodbyes – When XOXOs Replace Warm Hugs and Kisses

Someone said that funerals are for the living. Ever since I read it, I couldn’t think of it any other way.

Today, I spent a lot of time reading real life stories of last moments of people who died from Covid-19. When I began writing about ‘The Life in the Time of coronavirus’, this was one aspect I wanted to cover. Because if we have to understand and appreciate life, we need to take a glimpse at death, at least once in a while. The three stories I am about to tell you – I insist that you read them – will definitely make you appreciate the people in your lives.  And when you do, please give them a call and tell them that you love them.

Due to the rate at which the virus has been spreading, no hospital has been letting people visit their relatives once they are tested positive. Many patients spent their last moments alone in the hospitals. I remember a nurse crying in a video, saying that it was disheartening to leave the room to attend to a patient, only to come back and see another dead body. It was even worse delivering the news to their. Daughters, sons, parents, siblings, and grand-children, all of a sudden didn’t know when they’ll get to see their loved ones again.

I am an over-thinker. I have imagined myself in the hospital, fearful as I realize that I’ve been tested positive. Even more scared as I realize that if I don’t make out alive, I’ll perhaps never see my loved ones again. Then just lying around, waiting to get better. I also imagined a loved one being admitted in the hospital. Me, at home, helpless, wondering every moment how he/she is, fear looming over my head.  This situation is/was real for thousands of people all over the in the face of Covid-19. Right now, there is a daughter who is at home crying because she knows that she’s never going to see her mother again. Must be the vivid imagination coupled with empathy, the image leaves me shaken.

*****

As 81 year old Robert Tateley was recovering from pneumonia in a nursing home, she was tested positive for Coronavirus. Her grand-daughter took a video of her mother having one last phone call conversation with her mother before she passed away.

“I love you Mom, so much okay? You’re the best Mommy in the whole world. Always the Best Mumma. I love you. Alright? You have a  Goodnight, okay? I’ll talk to you tomorrow. Goodnight.”

You can hear voice cracking, the desperation in her voice and all the ‘Love yous’ she’d want to tell her mother forever.

Also Read: The Plight of Nurses, Doctors and Health-workers

 

She’s finally heard thanking ‘Becca’ who must be the kind nurse who held their grand-mother’s hand during her last moments. This is one of the most painful videos I have ever seen.

*****

Letty Ramirez has always been with her 86 year old mother Carolina Tovar, cooking with her and taking her for her weekly dialysis. Due to breathing difficulties, Ramirez was hospitalized and in a few days, her mother followed her. They hoped that Ramirez will recover quickly. However all of a sudden she was put on a ventilator and transferred to another hospital where the doctors hoped that a better equipment could save her. She had been diagnosed with Diabetes and Kidney failure, something that hadn’t been found earlier.

Their family face-timed each other and were hopeful as Tovar had always come out strong from hospitalizations before and Ramirez had a lot of life left in her. However Ramirez could only open her eyes during her next face-time with her daughter. Meanwhile Tovar was preparing to embrace death.

“I gave it my all. I am ready to go now”, she told her family.

They respected her wish to be not put on a ventilator. One of her daughters negotiated her way into the hospital and called the family on FaceTime. Tovar’s children and grand-children spent the night talking to her as she slipped into her final sleep. Within a few hours, they got a call saying Ramirez’s situation wasn’t improving. Her toes were black. Anymore time on the ventilator wouldn’t help her and so the family decided to remover her from the machine. She died within a few minutes.

The inseparable mother and daughter died from COVID-19, hours apart in separate hospitals. The family couldn’t physically be present next to two loving mothers who died due to Coronavirus and they couldn’t console each other either.

*****

Major Michelle Bennett and her siblings had to say goodbye to their mother, Carolann Gann, from a distance as she was tested positive for Coronavirus. They didn’t think they could talk to her again. However, as nurse Tatyana knew that Gann would be dying soon, she wore her protective gear and called Gann’s family so that they could say their final Goodbyes.

“She put it right up to my mother’s face, and I could tell my mom I loved her and how much I was going to miss her,” Bennett said.

“Can you please hold her hand? Can you rub her head? Can you pretend like we’re there with her?”

The Nurse who was also crying said, “She will not be alone. We will stay with her to the end.”

Within an hour after the call, Gann died.

It is difficult not being able to say ‘goodbye’ or ‘I love You’ to your loved ones before they die. My heart goes out to the people who didn’t even get the phone call or the FaceTime that these people got. It is also difficult being the health workers who see their patients suffering. It is difficult to do what they do, ensuring that all the patients are attended to while putting themselves and their loved ones at risk. Amidst this, nurses like Tatyana ensure that their patients have an easy passage to their after-life, that the patients relatives get a final chance to say Goodbye. 

What did we do to deserve nurses like Tatyana and Becca? I know that in this internet era hugs and kisses have become Os and Xs. But all I ask universe right now is that no one should have to say their final goodbyes through virtual XOXOs instead of real, warm hugs. Love deserves much more than that. While all I can do is pray to the Universe, will you go make that phone call you promised me?

Also Read: The Plight of Nurses, Doctors and Health-workers

 

Featured Photo by engin akyurt on Unsplash

 

 

6 Vital Elements of the Self to Focus on During Lock-down

During Lock-down, either of the two have caused you pain; being with your loved ones or being away from them. Staying indoors with a bunch of people, with no escape has its own boons and banes. In this post, I have brushed on 6 Vital elements of our lives that contribute to 95% of our mental and physical well-being. For many of us, the Lock-down was a test of our connection with these elements. If you haven’t considered this before, you may consider improving all or any of these aspects during the remainder of the lock-down:

PASSION -On Achieving The Goals in our Lives

I have always wanted to be a published author. During the beginning of the lock-down, I had the whole day to myself with no responsibilities and yet I did not work on my book or my art, the way I was supposed to. This made me realize something. The passions I have, the need to become an author, or an artist were all in the back burner all these years not because I did not have the time or the resources, but because I wasn’t willing to give it my everything. I lacked discipline.

If you are content with yourself, this doesn’t apply to you. But if you aren’t, if you want to fulfill your dreams while having a full time job, you need to start, hustle, make a goal chart and be consistent. There is only NOW! It took a lock-down, lots of wasted time and resources for me to look at it in the face.

green-chameleon-s9CC2SKySJM-unsplash.jpg
Photo by Green Chameleon on Unsplash

If I need to become an author, I need to start writing no matter what! I hope you stop waiting and start working on your passion as well. Take the first step. There’s no other cue.

FAMILY – On Understanding Our family.

You grew up with a certain version of family. Some people have been really strict with you, some haven’t had enough time for you while some couldn’t take their eyes off their problems to really look at you. If after a long gap you have had to stay in a house together and spend time with them, you might have noticed that they have softened, that they had a reason for the way they behaved and now they are proud of the person you have become.  

As for me, I am understanding my parents better and I don’t know if it’s because I have changed or they have. I am in the process of understanding my sister who has been re-inventing herself pretty rapidly. We just need to accept them and let them be.

And if you look within, you’ll know that you have grown enough to accept them for what they are. You can see that they don’t resist you anymore and it is time you give in too.

FRIENDSHIP – On the definitions and ideas of friends

We haven’t met our friends in a very long time and yet we are all connected. I feel the lock-down and the physical distance it brought connected us even better. I am getting more calls from friends and we are talking more about each others lives as opposed to before lock-down. As some people say, the Lock-down has shown us who our true friends are.

If someone hasn’t called you yet, do give them a call. Let them know that you remember them.

TOUCH – On underestimating the value of touch

My sister and I share a room. I am a very shallow sleeper and lightest of the sounds wake me up. So if I am stressed, I don’t sleep well at all. One night, I was in so much distress and it looked like I was having a nightmare. My sister tried waking me up, but I didn’t and so she hugged me and immediately I went back to sleep. I remember just the last part and the relief I felt when she hugged me. I have not been into hugs or physical display of emotions, but during the last couple of years, I have been trying to express my love for people through hugs.

During the last one month, I have missed hugging my grandmother as she is at my Uncle’s place. The last time she asked for a hug, I couldn’t give her as I had just come home from Bangalore and didn’t want to take a risk. Since then, I have been waiting to hug her. Once this is over, I’ll hug her more often and more mindfully.

If someone you know needs a hug, please give them. If you miss hugging someone, this will all be over. Promise yourself and tell them that you’ll hug them more often.

EMOTIONS – On emotions that weren’t meant to be expressed, but suppressed and let out in solitude.

We have been taught well to hide emotions and we really don’t know how to process or express our emotions well. We should be able to do that even after the lock-down. The answer to ‘How are you’ has always been ‘fine’, ‘okay’ or ‘not okay’ but nothing more. But to some people, we can answer with ‘I am not feeling like myself because I fought with my father’ or, ‘I feel lonely because I don’t think my friends will understand what I am going through.’ These are raw and real emotions and giving words to our emotions is important if we need to process them and let them out.

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Photo by Tengyart on Unsplash

Now, if you are not feeling like discussing it, you can leave it at, ‘I feel depressed but I don’t want to talk about that right now.’ I practiced this during these days and I felt my friends responding. The bottom-line, you need to start processing your feelings. Give voice to them.

 

RELATIONSHIP – On struggling with the various forms of Love or no Love

Most of what we know about Love is what we heard and saw from around us. So most of us cling to someone else’s or Bollywood’s idea of Love. We don’t realize that we can have our versions of Love and it is alright if the world cannot accept that.

During the last one month, you have had to spend too much time with your Love, while some others spent too much time away from their Love craving for a glance, for their touch. Some of you realized that everything you want you had right there. For others it was a period where you drove each other crazy and you can’t wait for a break from each other. For some it was a battle; the real one with the virus where you were on the verge of losing your loved ones, while a few actually did.

For the ones in between, here’s my two pennies worth. I wouldn’t say it is simple. But if you notice that you’re brooding over the Love in your life way too often and wondering if it is worth it, it is not. Because you’re spending more time brooding over than being in Love! But again, these are all subjective right?

I’d like to think that at the end of the lock-down each of us would have become better people. I hope we have understood our close ones better, ourselves better and I hope we have made peace with the battles that we have been fighting during the lock-down. So do you think the lock-down made you stronger with respect to any of these Vital Elements?

Uncommon Opinion: Finding the Utopia in this Dystopia

GUEST POST ALERT: Today, I have yet another Guest Post on my blog and this time it is written by my Dad. He is an avid reader and has gathered a lot of knowledge and perspective over the years. I have been wanting to know his take on the Coronavirus Pandemic/Lock-down and when I asked if he could write about it, he heartily agreed.


 

Can we become the creators of our own destiny?

I have read a lot about Karma and its effects on our mind and consciousness. But to me these are all debatable. Learned people say that the mystery of life lies in the knowledge of death. You might be wondering why I have started my post with negative thoughts. I’d like to remind you that two negatives make a positive. That’s what I am trying to do here, turn all the negative thoughts about this tiny virus in to something positive.

My self-quarantine started a week before the official lock-down, thanks to my younger daughter who came back from Bangalore. It was a much needed rest for me mentally and physically. I realized the pathetic condition of my lungs and the lack of stamina when I tried playing Badminton with my daughter. I was experiencing shortness of breath rather too quickly into the game. I am someone who leads thousands of people in the company I work in, and here I was struggling to manage my own body the way I wanted. Since I am not sure about the concealed mystery of heaven and hell, and the concept of the soul and rebirth, I realized that the only genuine companion in my life until death would be my body and it’s my utmost duty to nurture it carefully.

As I mentioned earlier, the lock-down has been a much needed rest for me. I have been able to do the things I love; reading books, practicing pranayama exercises, continuing my passion with drums (with the practice pad), listening to music (I was a professional drummer in my youth), taking regular walk in the evenings and most importantly helping my wife in the best ways possible.

It may sound insensitive when I tell you that I am enjoying my life. Like everyone else, I too am concerned about the virus engulfing the world, taking too many lives. But it’s high time we stop being miserable. We need to accept what comes our way with grace. I know it’s easier said than done. But there’s nothing wrong in giving it our best shot. There is no point restarting our journey in an unpleasant manner. If you ask me, this should not only be a view of life now but a way of life forever.

There are the pessimists and the alarmists who tell us that disaster is certain and that all human effort is of no avail. I don’t think Mother Nature is that cruel. After all, no mother can torture her children incessantly.


 

Featured Photo by The New York Public Library on Unsplash

Stories of Kindness and Sacrifice during Covid-19

The brawl over toilet paper and supermarkets emptying out had us wondering where we were all heading. But there were some beautiful acts of kindness and sacrifice that kept people together, sane and alive during the Coronavirus pandemic. I wouldn’t do justice to this series if I don’t put the stories of these wonderful souls out there. Here are some heart warming Stories of Kindness and Sacrifice during Covid-19

 

The Elderly Sacrifice their Ventilators for the Young ones who need them the Most

A 90 year old woman in Belgium, Suzanne Hoylearts, was tested positive for Coronavirus. Her health deteriorated with every day. However she refused to be put on ventilator saying she has had a beautiful life. She requested them to save it for the youngest who needed it the most. She died from Covid 19 as she granted the gift of life to someone else.

Italian priest Don Giuseppe Berardelli had been suffering from respiratory ailments for a while. And so Bergamo being one of the worst hit by Coronavirus, did not spare the priest. His parish had earlier purchased a breathing apparatus to help him. However he decided to give up the ventilator for someone younger. He passed away in a hospital in Bergamo.

In both these cases and many others, there was no in personal funeral for the departed. As someone said, funerals are for the living. These wonderful souls died sacrificing and I am sure they are both on a beautiful after-life journey.

A Man in Uttarakhand, India uses his own vehicle as an Ambulance

32 year old Ganesh Bhatt decided to use his vehicle as an emergency service when he realized that ambulance drivers were scarce in his area. He gets distress calls frequently now. He has helped out pregnant women, a child who fractured his hands and he even supplies essential items such as groceries and medicines so that people don’t have to leave their homes during lock-down.

“We all know how the healthcare system is in the hilly regions of our state; ambulance services are not efficient even at the best of times and to top that, now local drivers do not want to take people to hospitals even if they are paid Rs 2000, as they are scared they might get infected. So I started using my own car as an ambulance,” said Bhatt.

He has been using his savings to provide these services. However these days people who have contacted him through social media are contributing money for fuel. The locals refer to his car as 109 ambulance service now. [Source: Hindustan Times]

The Captain of the Cruise Ship, The Diamond Princess, the last one to leave

The Diamond Princess that carried 3711 people (including the crew) began to have a rough phase on the day before the cruise was about to end, when a person had been tested positive for coronavirus. Within the next day, the number had increased to 10. People were asked to stay inside their rooms as each of them were tested. Over the next few days, the positive cases rose to 700. While his ship was going through a never before phase, the Captain, Gennaro Arma tried his best to cheer up the passengers.

 

Throughout the quarantine, he thanked the passengers for their patients and left them notes of encouragement. He arranged flowers and chocolates for the passengers shut in their cabins on Valentine’s Day. He recited a quote from Bible to lift the passengers’ spirits and instill faith.

He continued to stay and oversaw the transfer of passengers to the hospital or the quarantine facility and was the last one to disembark on Mar 2nd. He is now a Hero to many and Italy is to give him its highest honor.

If this wasn’t enough, we have people volunteering to supply essentials to the doorsteps of the elderly. Children are posting hand written letters to houses in their streets offering help. A community in Thane, Mumbai is ensuring that people who returned from abroad in their community aren’t harassed but feel supported. A group of neighbours sang the Birthday Song to an 80 year old home quarantined woman in Spain.

 

Role Reversal as Humans Hide and Nature Thrives

Today I saw a video of the streets of my city, Kochi, Kerala. It highlighted the main parts of the city and it empty, everywhere. You’d occasionally see a car or two wheeler, but the roads stretched into nothingness. The Oceanside, the walkways and bridges were all empty and it looked strangely beautiful to see my city that way. I wanted to go out and witness it myself. But that isn’t possible right? However, we have been hearing from all over the world the stories of some others who have been enjoying the lock-downs. While the humans hide from nature, the nature is just reclaiming what is hers. Here are some adorable stories I came across:

  1. You must have heard about the Dolphins that were sighted in the Venice’s canals. Since the visitors reduced, the motorboats were put away and hence the sediments have settled and water pollutants have dropped. The water is so clean that fish can be seen in the canals.
  2. Apparently, vibrations from moving vehicles and industrial equipments could cause the Earth’s crust to move. When human activity is high, cumulatively they produce noise which reduces the seismologists’ ability to hear other sounds and signals of similar frequency. In Belgium, vibrations caused by human activity have gone down by one-third since restrictions to contain Coronavirus put in place. This enables the equipments to pick up waves in the same frequency range as the noise. The facility’s seismometer is sensitive to small earthquakes and it can monitor volcanic and other seismic activities. A similar fall in noise was observed by a station in Los Angeles. Source: Nature.com
  1. My favorite have been the Penguins going on their field trip. Nothing could beat those! The Shedd Aquarium in Chicago unleashed the Penguins. They let them walk around in the public areas, look at the exhibits and clearly the Penguins look happy, curious and intrigued.Bonded Penguins Edward and Annie were taken on a tour around the aquarium and it looks nothing short of a romantic date. I could sit all day looking at them walk.

4. Killer Whales Spotted! In Vancouver a pod of Whales were spotted on the Indian Arm. The group consisted of the mother, father and two babies. Jim Hanson initially ignored the sounds of whale exhaling on the water surface, but alerted by his son, he was in for a surprise; something he had never seen in 59 years of his life there! [Source: cbc.ca]

5. Silka deers decided to take a stroll in Nara, Japan, wild turkeys suddenly appeared in a park in Oakland. In India, in Uttarakhand, Sambar Deers were spotted walking the streets near the Rajaji National Park. Well, it did seem normal to me. Animals near national parks shouldn’t be surprising. But they would really come out onto the streets only if they are assured that they wouldn’t be disturbed. Clearly, the disturbances are all sitting at home right?

6. The Mighty Himalayas was visible from parts of Jalandhar, Punjab for the first time in decades as the lock-down paved way to less pollution. ‘If you see Himalayas once, you’d want to go back again’, said a friend of mine. After my trip in December, I have been craving for it like never before. So this news made me so envious. To be able to see Himalayas one fine morning from your own terrace, that would be a joy like no other.

The Dhauladhar range of mountains is visible from the city due to a drop in pollution levels.

I have said this before. There is no saving the Earth for humans. If something goes wrong, nature knows how to save and mend itself. That is precisely what is happening. Nature is in the process of cleansing while sending us messages. These are the signs. I am not an environmentalist. I know I do my fair share to harm the Earth and I am trying to work on it.

Meanwhile here is my idea. It would be ideal for all of us to go on a global self quarantine for a month every year. We’ll all stay with family, take things slowly, love better, stay at home and let the Earth breathe and mend herself. The economy, daily wage earners, businesses, essential services etc can be taken care of with good planning. I’m sure this will be our best contribution to Earth. What do you think?

Featured Photo by Federico Beccari on Unsplash

Pantomimes and Paranoia

In January, 3 positive cases were found in Kerala and they were completely cured. But in March, new cases started emerging in India. My sister and I were in Bangalore. One thing led to another and I reached home in Kochi on 12th March while my sister reached on 14th March. Things weren’t smooth as you’d think. Before the lock-down was announced in India, Kerala had already begun its lock-down and the beginning of anything new has its fair share of problems.

Of all the people at home, when a calamity strikes, Dad knows what to do. He’ll freak out on a level, ten times worse than all of us put together, but he also knows what is to be done and he’ll do all of it and a million times more. Since my sister was coming home after a few cases had been reported in Bangalore, I was of the opinion that she had to be tested once she reached Kochi. At that point of time, we didn’t know the procedure. We were working on assumptions. So we agreed that as soon as her bus reached, I’ll contact the health care officials and ask them what had to be done.

The other thing you need to know about Dad is that, if you give him something to think about, he‘ll think it through to unbelievable proportions. While sometimes that is good, sometimes it isn’t. Ever since I mentioned about calling the health officials, he went into a trance. His eyes were unfocused , he was pulling at his mustache, a tell-tale sign that he was stressed, and the vein in his temple was bulging. I felt the wave of disagreement emanating from him. He didn’t like the idea even a bit!

“What happened, Dad?”

“I was just wondering if we’re blowing this out of proportion. She hasn’t had any contact with any patient.”

“Most likely, No. But we don’t know that for sure!”

“But if we go get her tested, then they’ll quarantine her.”

“I doubt that! They should ideally hospital quarantine her only if she is showing symptoms or if she has definitely come in contact with a positive tested person. Otherwise they’ll only suggest home quarantine.”

“Exactly! But they’ll quarantine us as well, as we have come in contact with her. Even worse, the whole apartment will be quarantined, all these people! No! The worst part is, they might throw us out of the apartment! Amma won’t be able to go to work, I won’t be able to go to work, you need to join for your new job in a week’s time, and that’ll be delayed and you might lose your job!”

“Oh my God! You are over thinking. Can you not see it?”

“No! You are blowing this out of proportions. We don’t have to involve the health officials. We will ensure that she doesn’t leave the house for the next 14 days. That will suffice!”

“Perhaps that’s what the family that came from Italy thought. Now see what has happened. Their relatives contracted the disease from them!”

“It’s not the same! They came from a country that has been badly infected. You want to get your sister tested just because she traveled!”

“All I’m saying is that they need to be informed. Many others might be doing this exact same thing as we speak!”

“I don’t think she has any way of contracting the disease and so I think you are just making a scene here!”

Well, initial days were a nightmare! It was confusion, paranoia, ignorance and what not! We were all clueless. The various stages, as the Covid-19 spread, brought out the best and worst in us and this was the micro version of what was happening in the society.

After the lock-down was declared on 24th, Dad went out one afternoon to purchase groceries and essentials for the household. He came back with 3 bags filled with, where-do-I-begin!? I am not going to list them all. But I’ll tell you that we had 2.5 Kgs of tomatoes to start with. He was definitely trying to help and sort his thoughts. We didn’t want to be condescending. Yet my sister decided to ask, “Wont all these vegetables get spoiled?”

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Empty Supermarkets due to Panic Buying | Photo by Richard Burlton on Unsplash

 

“We’ll keep them in the refrigerator. Karnataka and Tamil Nadu are closing borders. What if we don’t buy enough and then there’s no more supply? Besides, there are long queues in front of supermarkets and the Police is questioning people who leave the house. We really don’t know what tomorrow would bring!”

We started arranging all the supplies and soon learnt that we ran out of space in the refrigerator. The next two days involved brain storming on which vegetables had to go inside and which didn’t have to. The old cabbage stayed inside, while the new cabbage waited outside.

If one of us sneezed, Dad would take the effort of getting up from his bed and finding out who sneezed, peep into the room and say,

“That was one hell of a sneeze!” or, “The people next door will definitely come investigating who sneezed.”

Sometimes he’d keep tab of my sneezes and much much later, maybe during dinner, bring it up,

“Today Ranjini sneezed so frigging loudly! It was so loud!”

If I sniffed, he’d ask, “Do you have cold? Why are you sniffing?”

This went on for so long that I would suddenly wake up at night and panic because I thought that I wasn’t able to breathe, that I had somehow contracted coronavirus!

He would never let us go down.

“The association has decided that we throw the garbage in the allocated area on the terrace, as the designated staff won’t be coming.”  my mother said one day.

“I’ll do it! In the 7th floor, Arun’s son (name changed) has come from Dubai. So I’ll go upstairs. I’ll take the stairs. So many people would have used the elevator. It is not safe. Leave the door open.”

After he returned, he proudly announced.

“I did not touch the wall or the railing of the stairs. The terrace door was left open and I slid through, dumped the waste carefully and came back without touching anything!”

We looked at each other and smiled. He was doing this for us. But also because, he won’t be able to sleep properly if any of us went upstairs. He’ll always wonder if we touched the railing or the walls, or whether we washed our hands.

To be honest, we were all scared. We were scared for our Grandmother. We feared for Amma as she had to go for work and random people always walked into the bank. I was always careful about the food delivered by Zomato or Swiggy but you can only be so careful. It is important for people to understand the fine line between absurd paranioa and caution. I do not know where one ends and one begins. But who does? This was one of the many things we have been figuring out. Right?

Featured Photo by Tonik on Unsplash

 

One Day At a Time

Today I have a Guest Post on my blog. I have been giving you my point of view of Life in the time of Coronavirus. But I felt the need to include the views of a few other people during these times so that that you see the life during these days from more than one angle. Else it tends to get monotonous. So this is Devika, my sister, with her version of one very important aspect of Life in the time of Coronavirus. I couldn’t have put it better myself. If you’d like to read more from her, you can follow her on medium at Devika Krishnadas.

Dear internet footprint 🙂

I haven’t been able to work properly for a while. I keep blaming the terrible wifi connection and the restricted work-ability from my laptop. But the truth is that I’m just addicted to TikTok and my couch, and my mind isn’t feeling so good anymore. There’s just negativity all around me – Politics, death tolls, sad / troubled friends.

It was completely different until a week back. I was learning something new every weekend. One weekend I learned about Quantum Computing; another weekend I learned a bit more about Quantum Computing; during a holiday in between I read and analyzed the financial structures over the last couple of years. When I got a little too crazy, I enrolled for some classes in Udemy and finished it. This was all with work going on pretty well on the side.

But this week was different. I didn’t want to sleep at night, eat my meals or do my work. All I wanted to do was sink into whatever this blanket of cold was. I didn’t exactly know what was making me sad. To be honest this, pretty much is how life has been for me.

But this week I missed the cat I would’ve bought if I were back in Taiwan. I missed the coffee (and the Barista) at the Cafe in my office. I also missed how my back would feel seated on an ergonomic chair. Maybe it is that I let myself go a little too deep into the icy-cold dream-world and got lost on my way back; It was comforting to let go and wander for a bit, though. Somewhere deep inside I could hear my conscience saying that this was the most stupid decision I had ever made but the voice wasn’t getting any louder so I learned to ignore it. As the week progressed, I could see myself going deeper and deeper into the tunnel and the weight of this pressing right across my chest. It’s a rightly named body part – the chest. A super large wooden box used for storage. Whatever this weight was, it popped open the chest. There was a hurricane inside of me and I’m pretty sure no one could see it. But I’d been through this before. And the last time I went through this, I taught my brain to give out SOS signals, and that’s exactly what it did. I could see that I was neck deep in whatever this was and I had to get out. It was time for a rescue mission.


If you were playing a video game and you were in a need for resources, you’d use them. And you go up one level at a time. Same thing with life, sweetheart. Use your resources, and just go on with it one day at a time.

I’m halfway through my rescue mission right now. It’s okay to fall. It’s okay to stay there for a while. At the end of the day, we’re our own true warriors. And every thing and every person around us are resources we have at our disposal. Use them. Therapy is a resource, a supportive friend is a resource, a supportive family is a resource, money is a resource, food is a resource, a job is a resource, the internet is a resource, TikTok is a resource – Everything in this world that is at your disposal is a resource.

Image Courtesy – Alice Alinari on Unsplash

The Lock-down and What Came With it

The Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi on 24th Mar 2020 at 8 PM addressed the country. The headlines read,

“Country to be in complete lock-down for the next 21 days starting 12AM tonight”

By 25th Mar 2020 The number of Coronavirus cases in India had exceeded 600 with 70 plus cases reported in one day. We did see the lock-down coming. Or at least we internally hoped for this. Considering the population in India, if the virus spread uncontrollably, the country would definitely go down. Needless to say, the decision had been well accepted and it was the need of the hour.

However, there’s always a section of people that’ll suffer. We had various levels of sufferance; the essential sector was battling to save the people tirelessly, the daily wage earners and migrant workers were suddenly jobless, homeless and they couldn’t even go to their family as the trains were cancelled. As beverage corp closed down, suicides of extreme  alcohol addicts were increasing. The migrant workers began protesting while others began to walk to their homes which were hundreds of miles away and some of them died due to exhaustion and hunger. Meanwhile at homes, the cases of domestic violence increased as people were stuck at home , disagreements became more frequent and so did the associated violence.

Let me tell how things are currently where I am:

More than one person cannot be seen traveling. If you want to buy anything, you go alone. The Police are patrolling the streets everywhere. They stop every vehicle and ask where they are going. If they are from the essential services’ sector, they let them go.

My mother works in SBI. One day my mother came home and told us that within a distance of 8 Kms, she was stopped 6 times and asked where she was going. She’d show her badge and they’ll let her pass. Imagine the number of people that have been put to work if she found 6 of them within 8 Kms. Imagine having to stop every person and ask where they are going! They are doing a wonderful job and I have immense respect for them for having been this thorough.

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The Police doing their job during the lock-down in spite of a downpour

It is frustrating and at times even funny, the kind of reasons people give if the Police questioned them. One guy said he wanted to buy a needle while another lied about a funeral he had to attend. By the end of the week, the Police had confiscated hundreds of keys of people who were found roaming around unnecessarily and people were beginning to understand the gravity of the situation.

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The Police giving masks to people traveling without them

The above pictures are from the official Instagram Page of Kerala Police. I have been following them for a while and it is heart warming to see how active they are on social media trying to knock some sense onto people’s heads through so many creative ways.

Dad went to the supermarket. He told us that only 7 people were allowed inside the supermarket at a time and I thought to myself what a wonderful system that was. It ensured that there was minimal contact between the people who were inside. There really wasn’t many supplies for you to choose from and so people didn’t really take much time inside. Even then, people had to wait in long queues outside the supermarket. It took about 2.5 hours for my father to come back with the groceries.

This doesn’t mean people obey and stay indoors. There is still the problem faced by the daily wage earners who don’t have any source of living and cannot just stay at home. They either have to die of the virus or hunger and this system is unfair to them. They have to leave their homes and find a way to earn and in the process, people like me who are privileged sit at home and blame them. There’s the other category; privileged and insensitive. They can stay at home, but decide to just roam around for the heck of it.

Initially, people did enjoy the time with the families but gradually it started getting hold of them. After about a month, I noticed that I myself was frustrated, not having left the house for days. Your own mind starts to get to you. everything that was once interesting stops being so; even TV series. I have watched more Web series now more than ever and I realized yesterday that it wasn’t even interesting anymore. A state of laziness, lethargy, lack of accomplishment, the dread of what could happen when all of this ends are few of the many feelings I’ve been going through. It’s not just me. Someone was telling me that they felt suffocated.

The lock-down was supposed to end on 14th Apr 2020 (tomorrow). But the Nizamuddin event ensured that it didn’t. As of today (13th apr 2020), the Coronavirus cases have exceeded 9000 in India. Remember! This is after 21 days of lock-down. I shudder to think what would have happened if the lock-down hadn’t been declared when it was. And since the cases have been increasing rapidly, the lock-down has been extended for two more weeks.

Definitely not a happy news. But we all know that it is necessary. And even if we need to deal with ourselves, we are willing to stay in. Let me add one more thing. I know that it is worse for so many out there while I complain about being stuck at home. I am aware of my privileges. But while we talk of struggles at physical level, the mental struggles differ from person to person. You can easily see the privileges or the physical struggles of people, but you’ll never know whose mental struggle is worse. Nothing gives people the right to invalidate one’s struggles.

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I don’t know who made this. But it’s a screenshot from the handle you can see. And I know people need to see this.

So if you are trying to just stay afloat, not doing anything productive, eating that pudding because it keeps you sane, not willing to talk to anyone, you are still doing a wonderful job of holding yourself together. You don’t have to be a master-chef, paint, sing or learn anything new just because so many others can. Don’t beat yourself up. You only need to be.

Kerala Government – Alcohol Fixes and Border Tiffs

A couple of days into the lockdown that was announced by the Central Government, some strange but not unforeseen factors of the lock-down began to surface. Of all those, Kerala Government had to deal with two extremely ridiculous, but important issues!

Suicides of Alcohol addicts.

Even as the State had announced a lock-down much before the Central Government, the beverage outlets hadn’t been closed down. They did have a lot of pressure to do so. But the Kerala Government tried to keep it open as long as possible not only because it was a major source of revenue, but also because the lack of supply could cause other issues. Keralites are known to be tanker lorries when it comes to consuming alcohol. Hence it shouldn’t have been shocking to see that people were committing suicide for want of alcohol. As of 29th Mar 2020, there were 9 deaths in the state; 7 suicides, 1 cardiac arrest and 1 case of having drunk aftershave lotion (Source:news18).

Following this, the CM Pinarayi Vijayan said that people who were suffering from withdrawal symptoms, could approach government hospitals and obtain a prescription from a doctor stating that the patient was having withdrawal symptoms. This along-with certain other documents could submitted to the excise department, who will then give a pass to the patient. This pass can be shown to the beverage corporation who’ll then provide limited quantities of liquor. Tipplers (someone who often drinks alcohol) were also being urged to approach de-addiction centers. (Source: Business today)

Here is an excerpt from News18.com:

“According to the Kerala Mental Health Survey, 2018, there are about 50,000 men suffering from alcohol-related problems. Moreover, nearly 10,000 to 15,000 of them may develop serious problems like alcohol withdrawal fits, hallucinations and depression. The number of deaths in a couple of days endorses the projections available from the survey,” said Dr CJ John, a senior psychiatrist.

Indian Medical Association and the Kerala Government Medical Officers Association (KGMOA) are against the idea of prescribing alcohol as it is unscientific. Alcohol isn’t a medicine and a liquor prescription could result in cancellation the Doctor’s license.

Death Due to Closing Down of Borders

The other disturbing issue the Kerala Government had to face was when the Karnataka closed the border on the Kasargod side of Kerala. The move is understandable as the Coronavirus cases in Kasargod have been high. A State has to protect its people.

Mangalore is a medical hub. When you have a city with multiple hospitals and top notch facilities, the neighbouring towns and villages will all be dependant on that city for medical emergencies irrespective of whether the city is in another State. That is how it has been for the residents of Kasargod. Being bordering States, Mangalore depends upon Kasargod for their medical staff and Kasargod depends upon Mangalore for their medical facilities.

When the lock-down was imposed, Karnataka government dumped a mound of mud at the border to stop the vehicles from Kerala. A kidney patient was being treated in a hospital in Kasargod. When his conditional worsened, the hospital discharged him and referred to a hospital in Mangalore. The Karnataka police didn’t let them through and he died on his way back. With each medical emergency, the Karnataka Police didn’t let the ambulances go through and 3 patients succumbed on their way back or soon after, while a woman had to give birth in the ambulance.

The deaths weren’t due to Coronavirus. The deaths were sacrifices so that Coronavirus didn’t spread to anyone in Karnataka. I completely understand why the roads are blocked, but I don’t understand how why we can’t bend rules if we’re discussing a case of life and death! How about letting in only the critical cases through the border? Ensure that they’re isolated (To keep Coronavirus at bay in case they have it), and ive them the treatment they came for (with all the precautions taken by doctors; gear et al). Meanwhile collect their samples and in three days, you’ll know if they have the virus while saving their lives. I am not a government official or a medic. This was an off the top of the head solution and while there maybe flaws here, I know for a fact that a solution can be found instead of just letting people die!

While this is an action Karnataka could have taken in the beginning, after much requests from the part of Kerala CM, an agreement was reached between the two states. Karnataka will let non-Covid patients through the checkpost provided they submit the relevant papers and only one attendant will be given entry with the patient. It certainly is an improvement compared to the earlier scenario.

But it makes me wonder why there’s always a lack of harmony between neighbours. When I look at the South Indian States alone, I keep seeing an underlying hatred between all of them and scenarios like these seem a bit too insensitive to me.

Sources: Economic Times, Indian Express

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.

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    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.

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.

mb-hot-bath.png
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