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Life in the time of Corona

Dear Mira,You have been badgering me to  write about 'us' after discovering the blog and enjoying the small details about your exploits in Chennai. But for now, let me tell you about how we have been faring in the time of Covid-19. Because tomorrow, or five years from now, you might forget what we went through on account of an invisible microscopic enemy. For a week now, we have experienced what it is like to live under curfew - from 8 pm to 6 am  - while the authorities here went about the disinfection drive. The first two nights it was fun heralding the curfew. First came the shrill emergency alert on phone from the Shj Police asking us to stay indoors. A fleet of police cars waited on the corniche road in front of our window as a drone was set into operation. Some residents banged pots and pans, probably Indian fans of the PM Modi who had exhorted people of India to observe a Janta Curfew  on Sunday March 22 and end it with beating drums, blowing conches and clanging pla…

How a virus brought the world to its knees

When news of the corona virus attack began surfacing in the newspaper in early January, I dismissed it as another outbreak like Nipah and Ebola that would be contained very soon. I almost mistook it for something that affected the cornea. Corona with its regal crown soon began to have a menacing look. It was no longer China's problem or bio-weapon. It slowly gripped South Korea, Italy and now the rest of Europe, Americas and a good part of Asia (God save Africa). Europe which we thought was the paragon of natural beauty and human efficiency, crumbled under its invisible grip.  So much so that Italy has reported over 5000 dead as of now while Spain, Germany and the UK try hard not to go the Italy way. Lockdowns are the order of the day in much of the world.A good part of India and my own Kerala has decided to go under lockdown after the farcical Janata Curfew yesterday. The clanging and clapping at 5 pm across India on the PM's silly exhortation almost defeated the purp…

Fearless in Delhi

The hanging of the Nirbhaya gangrape convicts brought back memories of my life in Delhi in the early 1990s and one incident in  particular.  My brother who was studying in a Pune college decided to pay me a short visit during a vacation. His train was expected to arrive by 9.30 pm and I was preparing to go receive him when my roommate Krushna heard about my plans. She told me it was not safe to go alone at night and that I take her cousin brother Happy along. I had no such fears about travelling by public transport in Delhi late in the night - or at least till 10 p.m. Anyway, I heeded her advice and her kid brother (he was around 20-21 then I guess, like my brother) accompanied me. We did not talk much - he was not very talkative and I had my own parochial reservations about people from other Indian states. But we waited patiently, even as announcements came at intervals about the train being delayed. An hour became one, two, three and when it finally arrived it was 1.30 am…

Supermom

Make me a breakfast  Of veggies and egg, mama  Says the daughter  Make me cheesy noodles  with chicken shredded  And when I return from school  Chocolate cake with cream frosting  And ice cream from the grocery,  says sonnie  The water bottle, the brunch in school are ready and deposited in bag They rush off to the lift Give me a tissue quick pleads the girlie While I run comb in hand to give sonnie's unkempt hair  a last-minute brush  Huh, dont spoil my spike Leave me alone Where's my tea, Add a dash of ginger  And not too much milk Says hubby  Take the girlie for a walk  In the park She needs to lose weight  The floor is too dusty  Cant you scrub it clean Asks hubby already late for work. The needs are different each day But one refrain is the same for all What do you do the whole day? You are just too lazy!

JNU memoirs

Some folks think I studied in JNU, the prestigious liberal arts institution for postgraduate studies in the Indian capital. I only studied in IIMC, the media centre run by the I&B Ministry, and which was situated in a far corner of the JNU campus facing Asaf Ali marg. The lone DTC bus 615, I think, plying through the campus took us from Munirka to the terminus near IIMC. The commute was long but I preferred it to the shorter one on the lonely stretch of Asaf Ali Marg, where one had to depend on Bus 620 I think (too crowded for comfort) or ask kind strangers for a lift in their car. Unfortunately for outstation students in the early 1990s, IIMC did not provide hostel accommodation and all of us had to make our own living arrangements. The existing hostel was reserved for guest students from NAM (Non-Aligned Movement) countries, many of whom didnt like the spicy Indian food and preferred PG accommodations outside. The hostel remained half empty much to our exasperation but govt rul…

The politics of faith

We are in calamitous times - wars or warlike situations all around the world. Migrations, refugees, protests characterise the earth we have inherited as a gift from God or the unknown force that propels the universe. Do we have a right to call any piece of land as ours alone? India too is staring at such issues now - will we witness another forced migration like during the Partition? Why should we worry, Mira asks. They haven't said Christians should leave.  Today they havent, tomorrow it may happen, I sigh in despair. Everything that we took for granted - the Pledge during the morning school assembly, the national anthem, the Constitution, the friendships we gained in all these years - has suddenly turned alien or been endangered. While in Kerala most of us either supported the Congress or the Communists in college (even though mine was a womens' college and had no student parties or elections), I never knew the political or caste affiliations of the friends I made in  Delhi. …

2020

It is two years since I wrote anything here. A lot has changed since then, I guess. Mira shifted school, so now brother-sister go to the same school. Ash had not been very happy with that and felt she would nag him or keep an eye on his adolescent pursuits - which includes his friendship with girls. Since schools here do not permit co-ed after Grade 6, the interaction is only in the school bus or on the way to the bus. Ash is lucky - a girl from his batch lives in the same building. Earlier they lived bang opposite our apartment, but since then they shifted one floor up and we two floors down, so we are in the 8th floor and they are in the 11th now. We now have another 10th grader Indian girl living next door but as most young ladies are these days, I find them too pretentious with their fake accents and style. Mira is yet to catch the glam teen bug and behaves like a middle-schooler. Only problem is that she doesnt interact much with people unless she feels very comfortable. Ash on t…