Day 10- Pursuits less worthy?

10 days

  1. Frozen 2 X 3 (maternal obligation)
  2. Frozen 1 (torture)
  3. Black hawk down
  4. Olympus has fallen
  5. London has fallen (obviously)
  6. Ayyappanum Koshiyum
  7. Action hero Biju (revisit)
  8. Bala
  9. John Wick
  10. A quiet place
  11. Triple frontier
  12. The Witcher- Season 1
  13. The dark knight trilogy (again!)
  14. Sherlock Holmes
  15. Elementary – random episodes
  16. Lucifer- random episodes

10 days.

  1. The anarchy
  2. On hundred years of solitude (again, after ages)
  3. My seditious heart
  4. All the light we cannot see
  5. The Witcher- The last wish
  6. Ruin and rising (Grishaverse book 3)

 

Till next time,

J

 

 

 

Day 9-Cleaning the day away

As a household, we all woke up about two hours later than usual. Besieged by lassitude, we delayed the most basic of tasks. Z did not want to brush, Boss Man refused his morning repast. Me, I wanted to cease to exist for a day. Pause. Freeze.

It was just that kind of day.

We trudged on. I sat down with the little ones with their worksheets and art supplies. The A man usually flays the sheets in about 6 mins. Today, he didn’t bother. He was done with this crap that Mum was enforcing upon him. Z and I engaged in a battle of wills and like always I had to relent. We were done. At 1130 hrs. The day hadn’t even began.

I switched the TV on, and even rescued the iPad from the monster’s lair (where it disappears to most days when I don’t want them to be glued to it!) and passed out on the couch. I have not been sleeping well of late. Must be that, I thought.

The progeny had leftovers for lunch. I felt like sugary cereal and cold milk.

It was just that kind of day.

And then I got to work. Maybe the sugar rush helped. *See, even sugar isn’t truly evil.* I had to rid myself of this weird and inexplicable fuddle.

I cleared the toys. Sorted the overabundant crayons, color pencils, sketch pens and pastels. Chucked a whole lot of them into the bin. Arranged every book rack in the house (trust me there are more than you’d expect).Mopped, vacuumed. Dusted every surface. Shined every mirror and glass. Changed the sheets. Washed every sink. Scrubbed every bathroom wall and scoured the floors.

I cleansed and decluttered. It tidied both my home and mind apparently. I cleared the cobwebs from the ceilings and also my brain it looks like. My hands are pruney and my back is sore. But The Needle has stymied it’s relentless push toward despondence. I successfully cleaned the day away, literally and figuratively.

The children are fed and watered. We are alive. Productivity and routines can take a break. Sometimes, all we have to do is get by.

Sometimes, it’s just that kind of day.

Till next time,

J

Day 8- WhatsApp fuckery!

My post today is going to be be a tad different. I’m a very hesitant user of WhatsApp. For several reasons. But I must admit, it has it’s uses. And of the millions (of course I exaggerate, or do I?) of messages and forwards I receive, I do not usually bother with the forwards. But sometimes, I get riled up. I did so today.

I think I need to share it.

This was the forwarded message-

Amazon, they use to give full two pages advertisement in all newspapers. Flipkart, don’t know how many times they celebrated Big Billion Days in a year. They flooded with Chinese products to Indian market. Sold them and made huge money.

Big Basket, Grofferrs, their notifications was ringing every hour till last week. Malls, Super Markets, Big Bazaar. Where are they now? They stopped all services! No delivery at all. Tomorrow when dust settles they will come again with 20-30% discount sales. We forget what they did in these difficult times and go again to online and super market. Think again!

Who helped us during this tough time? Our own street Grocery storewala. He is supplying grocery and necessary stuff in this lock down period. The milkman is supplying milk everyday. He has not shut his service and ran away. That small vegetable shop run by lady is still open. Don’t know from where she is bringing vegetable but she is feeding us. Will you forget this help?

I will not. I have decided henceforth I will not go to Amazon, Flipkart, Grofferrs or Big Basket. No malls, no super market. I will shop in Kirana store, local dairy and small vegetable shop which helped my family to survive. It’s okay I will spend some more ruppes. But I will not forget what they have done for me and my family.

Thanks 🙏

( Don’t know who penned this but a point to note )

And this was my hastily, almost subconscious, frenzied reply. Copied and pasted. Not even edited for grammar or spelling.

I have ruminated for a while before replying to this. Please do not be offended, or take this personally. You guys must have noticed that I am quite reticent on WhatsApp. My replies are abysmally delayed, and a forward from me probably means I’m sick or delusional. But sometimes, replies are warranted, even to errant forwards from strangers.

The quantum of misinformation and rubbish that we are bombarded with on the daily, on this very useful platform is mind- numbing. Generally, I consider it a nuisance, but now I realize that daily shots of this, even in minute doses is enough for mass indoctrination and amplified mob frenzy. To make matters worse, our current political climate seems to fuel the mania.

I urge you all to read, from every source you can. Widen you horizons, wisen up on local, national and international matters. Have a world view. We are all (on this group at least) people of science no?

Consume from the left media, the right wing, the centre, middle- every fucking publication and media if you have to . Look for evidence, not conjecture. Start looking at news as you would a scientific paper. What level of evidence is it? Among the five (or six, or seven) levels, Whatsapp in my humble opinion is level 100. Worse than nothing.

Or you could chose not to know at all. Forget the media and their endless rambles. The screechy voices and sketchy on field reporters. The journalists who can’t string a sentence together. (Would I be allowed to work if I couldn’t place a suture?) The 24 hr ballyhoo. Be blissfully ignorant, and therefore happy. And, also not have a WhatsApp account.

Let us look at this seemingly innocuous forward for example. To put the record straight- I am one of those who orders extensively online. It makes my life a lot easier, trust me. And the past week has been hard. I first ordered on Amazon Fresh (where the delivery window is 2 hours) on Saturday evening (a day before the curfew), and received a slot for the next Wednesday! I knew then, that this was a portend for things to come. My orders have all since been cancelled, and not by me. Today an email said, deliveries for essential items have resumed in my area. I went online- no luck! System errors it said, then ‘no delivery slots’ apparently. Of course I was gutted, irritated. Suddenly Amazon is the enemy no? Of course, beat the beaten dog to death!

Amazon is a multi- national, billion- dollar, corporate giant. With almost a million directly employed employees and several more indirectly employed. Does any sane man/ woman believe they do NOT want profit at this time? When ecommerce orders have jumped exponentially. During the good times, they could offer massive sales and offers and quick deliveries due to their gargantuam stockpiles and armies of warehouse and delivery workers. The warehouses and stocks are worth shit if the workers can’t show up or if they are beaten half to death on the way to the homes of their consumers! Also, the term “essential” item is a minefield. Ask the folks who run the companies. (I could elaborate, but that would be too much)

Other countries who have been hit by COVID-19 worse than us, especially the US and UK are still quite reliant on ecommerce suppliers. They consider them life- savers. They write up thank you plaques outside their doors for these folks who get them their milk and bread. They are no less heroic to them than any ER nurse or physician.

Why are we suffering then?

The answer is always the same no. Inadequate, or worse- wrong information handed to the folks in the field. Mismanagement, political shilly-shally, and many a time , ignorant or fanatical idiots at the helm.

As for the kirana shops, I do not doubt that at least some of them have altruistic intentions; but the majority are here to do what everyone else wants to. Make a quick buck, make hay while the sun shines. Exactly like the ones who hoard masks and sanitizers and sell them at exorbitant prices. Prices for essential commodities have been artificially risen to upto 70% in some instances. Again, this is multi- factorial, and not entirely of their making, yet they do play a part. They behave in a patronising manner, refuse to provide bills in some instances, refuse to serve customers who question them, refuse to give items that were asked for (in those shops where the customers wait outside, and lists are handed over to the employees)

Do not get me wrong here, I am not trying to glorify the giant corporations or vilify our poor, small traders, my grouse is with this “shooting from our arses” mentality. Where everyone with a fuckall WhatsApp account is an expert.

Please, I beg of you my lovely, smart , intelligent ladies. Let us pledge to screen every message and forward, scrutinise every “fact” and second guess every image and video before we mass circulate this. Let us not let idiots and imbeciles insult our intellects this way.

I apologise for my rant. I wouldn’t say this anywhere else; except to MY people.

P.S. My milkman is a super star. That IS a scientifically proven fact.

What say, just a tad too much?

Till next time,

J

 

 

Day 7- The disquiet returns

12.58 AM. The night is still. It is neither hot, nor cold. That odd, middling temperature, that is comfortless due to it’s neutrality. The friendly, calming air currents of the last few days are conspicuous by their absence. The ceiling fan does try it’s best, with it’s familiar, cantankerous whirr. The mind tries to mirror it, with it’s own constant buzz. The buzz of discomposure.

I knew this would be an undulating path. The ups and downs were expected. But expectation does not equate to preparedness. The ups are fun, and the down is well, unpleasant. To say the least.

Time has taught me a few tricks though; to overcome this disquiet that often rears it ugly head. I plan to use one of those today- watch all- out action flicks. One man demolition shows, epic war sagas, neo- noir gore movies, end- of- the world stories- I shall take them all, thank you very much. *Not sure what that says about my mental composition*

The worksheets for tomorrow aren’t printed. The water bottles are not filled. The work- out clothes are not laid  out. The alarm is not set. Also, I refuse to do any work related stuff today. I might even break my one cardinal rule of the night (no snacking!) tonight.

So off I go folks. John Wick awaits; all three of him. And maybe some frozen yogurt.

Till next time.

J.

 

 

Day 5- Only?

Has it only been 5 days? Weekday morning rush and night- time scraps; memories of a couple of weeks ago, are paling already. Amazing, truly!

Normal workdays for me, are days in which my time is not mine. I’m either sorting the kids out, or engaged completely and wholly with a patient- conscious ones in the OPD and unconscious ones in the OR. I live on flecks of me- time. Venting to friends or catching up on audiobooks in the car. Reading the newspaper in OR while the patient is being intubated. You get the drift.

I have been craving a holiday. A true vacation, one where I don’t have to pack for four or worry about baby food and diarrhoea. Where I don’t have to come back and catch up on laundry or make up on- calls at the hospital.

I am not downplaying these difficult times. The human loss, the economic ramifications- the consequences of this pandemic are going to be far- reaching and unprecedented. Time will tell if the world will ever be the same again. I understand that.

But there is this small part of my brain, who doesn’t. That part sees how happy Lil Z and Boss Man are to have their Mum to themselves. All day. It senses their relief when they wake up and find Mum passed out beside them. It relishes the late- mornings, and the cuddles and leisurely coffee and newspaper stints at the balcony. That brainling, also loves the fact that we are longer dictated by the clock. We sleep when tired, wake up when we are bored of sleeping. We eat when hungry.

Z and I are not morning people, and now we are not forced to be. Boss Man likes to zip around the house in his pyjamas post 10PM- this is his ‘me time’, sans his bossy sister. And now he can do so.

The trees and creatures outside must be savouring this brief respite. Wondering where all the ruinous, wasteful humans have disappeared to.

Tomorrow I shall mourn my lost time and money. Cry about being stuck here when I should be settling in to my new home. Grieving for the family that is broken at a time when we should be together. Blaming destiny and governments and fellow people.

Today, I shall be grateful for small mercies. For this time off from the hamster wheel. For a breather that I so desperately needed, even if it involves being occasionally smothered by anxiety.

Tomorrow, I will watch with trepidation as the death toll rises across Europe. And as the disease ravages the so called leader- of- the- free- world. I shall cringe when BBC tells me that cow urine is not a remedy. I will wonder how many thousands are truly infected in my country, considering our meagre testing capabilities. I will worry about the lack of true initiative and preparedness in India, lockdown not withstanding.

Today, I will go to bed thinking of the scientists world over; staying up in fluorescent labs; pouring over microscopes. Of an emergency room nurse; taking on an extra shift as another one of her co- workers is taken by the darned COVID19. Of leaders and visionaries who are not politicians. Of doctors and nurses, and nursing assistants, and lab workers; of sanitation workers , and housekeeping staff. A prayer might escape, from this mind that often battles with agnosticism.

I will go to bed hopeful.

Till next time,

J

Day 4- Routines and rituals.

Purveyors of chaos often sustain life day-to-day by forcing themselves into routines and rituals. Routines by nature of their predictability are safe, controlled, becalming. Chaos and uncertainty can be exciting, thrilling, glamorous even. But it generally breeds anxiety.

I truly learnt the practicality of setting routines only after I had my first child. Until then, life was ever dynamic. No two days ever the same. Bedlam, some called it. I thought I revelled in it; but it came with a price. My sanity.

So now, on busy, short- handed, stressful days; I take refuge in my routines and rituals. Current times are odd and indefinite. Children may not voice their anxieties, but they sense our fear and have an innate ability to absorb doubts and uncertainties. Vacation plans cancelled, Dad away, unable to go out and meet friends, art classes suspended, schools called to a close abruptly. Everything’s different. I try to tell them that things are different, but they are temporary (I hope!).

We have a time- table for the day. We pretend to go to school – the guest bedroom. We pack snacks and water. We have PE class everyday. We have art and craft time. TV time. iPad time. And the past week has been a successful exercise in containing what could have been a disaster.

I am bored. This was the catch phrase of the weeks past. Ever since schools shut. Brother and sister fight all day, everyday. The fight ends only when one gets significantly hurt. Scratches, welts, bruises- even drew blood a few times. The television was a sore spot. How much to watch, what to watch, who keeps the remote in hand. I was fight referee, TV police, food enforcer, bath- time peacekeeper and “boredom relief committee”- all put together.

I am still all of those. But at least the routines have helped me ‘flatten the curve’. And therefore I can deal with the situation a little better. Put my mental faculties to better use.

Hope we make it out of this in one piece folks!

Till next time,

J.

Day 3- The new normal.

01:31 am. The kids were down by 10:30. I have been dilly- dallying, putting off coming to my desk. Faffing about on Netflix, Youtube, Prime, Hotstar; what have you. My pre- COVID life had minimal to no spare space for such luxuries. But the home quarantine/ lockdown life has it’s unexpected perks.

We have unsettlingly settled into the new normal. I went ahead and attempted a grocery run today. Stood in poorly drawn white little circles and waited for my turn. We handed in slips of hastily written item lists to the store employees who then picked out our stuff for us, while we stood in the sun, two- arm (P.T classes from school anyone?) distance from each other. Comic relief was provided by an old lady in a fancy mask haggling for a certain brand of “agarbathi” (incense sticks), and a gentleman being shown a different brand of “jhaadu” (Hindi for broom) every two minutes by a disgruntled employee. The gentleman clearly had strict instructions from the Missus.

Not everything I “needed” was available at the first store. So had to make a trip to another one. Same badly drawn circles, different modus operandi. Enter in small batches, and be timed. Here I saw another elderly woman who was pissed because the store refused to sell her 25 kgs of Tilda basmati rice. *Facepalm*

I came home with bit and bobs. Not what I needed or wanted. But, I cannot complain. We have food. I have decided to stretch whatever perishable food I have, till I can. I refuse to do this until I absolutely have to- a week from now maybe.

On a brighter note. Boss Baby turned 3 today! Almost a lil Boss Boy now. We baked a cake at home and Skyped Papa. Z who is 6 running 16 had unresolved issues from the afternoon, and in protest refused to partake in her brother’s stint in the spotlight. No presents, no fanfare, no fuss; Boss Boy cut up the entire cake with a knife in his left hand. Ate some, offered some to his Grandma and moved on with his life. That human is one cool dude!

Till next time,

J.

Bengaluru 27.03.2020- Day 1

I cannot for the life of me remember the last time I sat at home for two straight days. “Sat at home” meaning not stepping out of the door. Not even after the birth of my children , did I do such a blasphemous thing (cue for all Indian aunties to raise their brows in consternation)!

Work

A cumulation of a strange set of circumstances has led to this day.

One being, COVID 19 of course. Second, I have almost wrapped up my surgical fellowship here. I have no place on the rota anymore. I do not have to go in everyday, in a situation such as this. I’m also in the midst of a grand ol’ job change. I was due to move town and start work at a different hospital.

Home

The children have been home bound and locked in for a few weeks now. Withdrawal was hard at first. Unsurprisingly though, they were the first ones to accept the new normal. TV rules don’t exist anymore. And the more lax I am, the less TV they want to watch (I might take this lesson with me if we all survive this).

We paint ad nauseam. (I dread the day our meagre paper supply is sapped.) We dance, fight, bake clay, melt candles, break things, eat lipsticks, cut up newspapers, jump off high places, refuse to eat meat/ milk/ vegetables/ fruits, have ear infections and the like.

We sleep late, wake up late. Re- read One Fish Two Fish. Make pancakes for lunch. Arrange the book rack thrice a day. Lil’ Z “cleaned” her closet today. Boss Man had cereal for dinner.

Que sera sera.

The mind

I am anxious but zen at the same time. I’m steering the ship solo as present. Mr H is stuck abroad. The lockdown doesn’t bother me. It is most likely our only way forward. The doom and gloom newscasters don’t annoy me. They are either truly scared shitless or just trying to milk the situation. The children being bored I can handle. The husband being stuck in another country at such uncertain times, I can deal with. My professional and personal forced state of limbo I can bear.

But, the policeman who stopped me yesterday, brandishing his very endowed lathi; who argued I should wear a mask (any mask!) whilst inside my car, with no co- passengers, with my windows up- chafed me more than all the above things combined. The poor man. Forced to enforce something that he does not understand, or was not explained.

How do we fight a powerful, cunning and fastidious foe when we are so ill- informed. That gentleman harassed me into wasting the one meagre mask I had in my bag. Wrapped in a tissue, treasured. The one I was supposed to use at the hospital the next day. The one I could not leave at the drawer in my clinic, because we are so short supplied that it might not be there when I arrive the next day. We are rationed masks at present. And this is the situation at most hospitals. And this public servant, who is supposed (or so I’m told) to stop me and enquire politely where I’m headed to (I was heading back from the hospital) in these dire times- was more keen on berating me like he would an ill- behaving child, for not wearing a mask inside my car! I couldn’t make this story up even if I wanted to- it’s so senseless.

Also, I wonder – with all the talk of social distancing, why are there half a dozen policemen standing together at some “check- points”. To scare the regular folks heading to their “essential” jobs or to buy their “essential” dahi and aalu for the day? To scare Messrs Corona and company possibly?

The body

Never say never. New city, new jobs, more social obligations, older children with more school work and classes to attend. As a couple who are fond of chucking bits of iron around; we knew time and space would be scarce for such pursuits outside the home.

With talks of our own personal home gym when we move- I always wondered. Would it work? Will my existing motivation suffice?

Well, it absolutely will is the empathic answer. It took me a few days, but I’m now making do. Of course the gyms are shut and I cannot run outdoors (do not want to risk section 269, 270 and 271 being thrust on the poor me), nor do I have any real equipment at home. But I have 50 kgs of myself, and some resistance bands. Also, the universe got kind and I found a pair of rusty, squeaky 10 kg dumbbells lying in a cob- webbed corner; under a bed (I’d gone in to find a Shopkin). It probably belonged to the Mister. It looks like it’s from the 70’s. But it’s serves my purpose well. My last two workouts would probably come under the category of the “best I’ve had in a long time”. In fact, I’m sore today. Sore with bodyweight and a pair of dumbells. Who would have thought!

Till Day 2.

Dr J.

There is no other life but this.

“You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment. Fools stand on their island of opportunities and look toward another land. There is no other land; there is no other life but this.”

-Henry David Thoreau

These are peculiar times. We thought we were better, more advanced. Scientifically capable, financially insoluble. Robust immunologically; with superior, sophisticated healthcare systems in place. Drugs aplenty, and resources galore.

And yet, a mere virus has us chasing our tails. We seem no better than our predecessors battling the plague or cholera. We are probably worse off, with the media whipping up mass hysteria.

Amidst the pandemonium, snippets of conversations irk my already chafed and irritated brain. The conspiracy theories, the moronic world leaders mouthing rubbish whilst addressing their nations, the selfishness and stupidity of the individual putting the entire  species at risk. And yet, what bothers me the most is the whining.

About cancelled travel plans. Missed parties. Shut watering holes.

Nobody seems to really know what “needs” to be done. We are all shooting in the dark here. Like I said, in some ways these are extraordinary, unprecedented times. This may be a blip on our timelines, or an event that will change the course of history. Either way, nothing is certain is right now. All we have is our TODAY.

A today that shouldn’t be squandered in the throes of relentless speculation and odious complaints. We could buckle down and do the things that we always wanted to. Spend more time cooped up at home with the kiddos. Read more. Watch Netflix till our eyes bleed. Bake. Sleep. Contemplate. And for those unfortunate folks (like me) who cannot ‘work from home’ – we have less traffic to contend with. No school lunches to pack. No homework to fight through.

Let us not just ‘get by’. Let us continue to live our best lives. In ways that we can. 2019-nCoV be damned.

Till next time,

J

 

At the close, of another one.

The days are mostly long, but the weeks, months and years are astoundingly short. The little ones ain’t so little anymore. Is that a proper wrinkle I see? The greys hairs are in greater attendance. Insurance companies put you in the next bracket.

Involuntarily, I clutch harder at the grains of time, and all I’m left with are a few paltry ones in my sweaty, small palms.

It unnerves me to think that I was 16 when my Mum was at a similar stage in life.

My brief reversion home, is almost at an end. I have learnt something new and remembered many an old thing. My children have had the incredible experience of living with their grandparents and outright bully them on the daily. I have had the fortune of worryless childcare and of also being treated as a kid while being an adult.

All said, it’s time. To sail away to uncharted waters yet again. A new city and a new life beckons. Babies (who aren’t babies anymore, sigh!) in tow. Wish me luck and the universe’s mercy please. I have heard they are in short supply these days.

Till next time,

J.