Tuesday 31 March 2020

Made in China

Yesterday while cleaning my book shelf, I came upon a beautiful box - you know the drift - The box in hand leads to a myriad of memories yellowed with time and exaggerated emotions. But the box in question was a fairly recent gift, say two years and I lovingly caressed the same when lo! behold, I came upon the three words, MADE IN CHINA. I felt a cold shudder. The beautiful box seemed to have lost its sheen and felt like a heavy stone in my hand. I looked around and many beautiful objects that were housed in my home were from China. Needless to say, my mind quickly thought of the present virus - which is incidentally MADE IN CHINA! I thought of the many strings which are presently attached to the country - The barrage of angry Whatsapp forwards, call to boycott Chinese products and stop eating noodles (the post did not mention manchurian recipes!), the xenophobia against the people from north-eastern India because of their facial features which are Mongoloid. I think how hate spreads easily through technology and it isn't difficult to arouse a group of people who are constantly fidgeting with their mobiles and passing the message to another group of individuals - eerily similar to the way the virus is spreading far and wide. It just takes one unassuming host to propagate the message and then there is a chain - a never ending chain of messages and people who spew hate and venom and awaiting a chance to strike - virtual and real.

The mob psychology is fascinating to observe and study. It had been thought that fiery speeches and rousing words kindle the minds of unsuspecting people who then act accordingly. I think of Marc Anthony and his powerful, "Friends, Romans, Countrymen . . ." which stirred the crowd into a mob and let loose fury and blood-thirst. Today, one has to tap away on a mobile and innocently forward a xenophobic message and then witness how hell breaks loose. Technology is both a curse as well as blessing. It becomes the instrument of the hand that uses it.

As for me, I ruminated on the array of brilliant products that the Chinese could conceive of and only imagine how our homes would be without their products.

Hopefully, like other Chinese goods, the virus also should be short-lived, is my supplication.

Hope you are safe and aware.

Sunday 22 March 2020

My brush with lockdown(s)

I am not unfamiliar to lockdowns. I remember my first lockdown - it was in April 2011, a month before I was to get married. I was down with chicken-pox. I know that it does mean a big setback in terms of wedding shopping and all that jazz but it was bliss in disguise of a disease. I was brought back from the place I was teaching during that time - Tiruvarur by a special car which was hired by my mother. After I set foot at home in Chennai - it was quarantine till the shiny balls disappeared. I lived sans bath, sans spice and sans mirror - you would know the usuals if you had experienced chicken-pox. But the icing on the cake was that I MISSED most of MY wedding shopping, which was done kindly by my dear mom and sister. Those were the days of no Whatsapp so no videos and photos of clothes could be sent; My sister would call me and describe the design to the best of her abilities and I without even listening, would remark, "Buy whatever you feel would look good on me." So much so for my wedding shopping. The best part  comes now - juices to coll my body down, not to mention the buttermilk and tender coconut water! Bland food did not appeal much but I saw that as a detox. My skin and hair looked healthy, my complexion revived, my mind was clear and before I forget, I completed reading a book (not advisable) which was catching dust in my modest library.

Today's lockdown is different - Of course I am cooped up at home, which is not unusual but I am devoid of the luxury of getting food and drinks served at my bed side. I cooked, cleaned and did a bit of reflecting and was generally a relaxed home body wondering about the next area to be cleaned or next book to be read. But the feeling of quiet has seeped in but I also have a niggling thought on stocking up of essentials in case Goa decides to extend the lockdown of today.

You see, I don't have my mother to worry about those aspects.

Hope you have been well and content in times as these.

Tuesday 10 March 2020

Going on . . .

Sometimes, I wondered aloud in class that we were a generation which hasn't witnessed any major wars, plagues and life-turning events. I didn't know whether it was good or bad because I have often heard my parents and grandparents discuss events like the Indo-Chinese war, Independence, Emergency and so on. I wondered how it would seem to be living in the midst of crises yet going on with life and living. I should acknowledge the fact that there was no social media to escalate the range of the events but even then, I had imagined the fear in the air which seeped into the minds.

Then 2019 and 2020 came along bringing some traumatic and fearsome events, which perhaps would be my share of anecdotes for future narration.

The anti-CAA agitations across the country

The riots of Delhi

The fear mongering messages across the capital

Corona Virus

These events have not entered my circle of geographical location but it has definitely seeped into my mind and the people's collective unconscious. Being a minority has given me my own fears and having dear ones travelling has triggered a COVID-19 scare. I assume that these kind of fear would have accosted the minds of my people when there were events happening in the country even though they were far removed from the circumference of the danger zone. Of course, for viruses and wars, the fear is a collective one which is evenly spread and quite panic-ridden.

I know that this would pass but living in these times is like the unknown fear which torments and asks one to rise up and act.


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