One ends the fourteen days with gratitude- for the healing and for life, as the cases in India begin to decline and the positivity rate in Delhi has come down to 14%, the lowest since April 14th. Disclaimer- not enough people are being tested, yet the lockdown has been beneficial, there seems to be no shortage of oxygen, either. The shutting down of activity will be carried on till the thirty first, so that’s a good thing.
Just need to get my antibodies tested in a week or two so that one can decide about vaccination. Though, there’s nothing to decide now, is there? The NTAGI : National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation has asked people who have recovered from Covid, to defer taking the jab for six months, from the day of recovery. When they’ve run out of vaccines, the authorities have to come up with innovative techniques like this and extending the time between the two shots. Like I said to someone today, anyone who has enough money, should plan their exit strategy away from this mess: the bhakts and the chaos.
Anyhow, as for me, I’ll probably remain the frog in the well, for now, as one has no offsprings, to worry about. The thought that consumes one these days, is of being electroencephalographically challenged and in that moment realizing that one has failed in trying to be a better version of oneself. One does make most decisions based on the final hour, yet the impulsiveness of one’s nature, the ability to blurt out the hurtful things, when cornered is one’s greatest flaw. When one doesn’t think and that side of one, which is great at self preservation fiercely either attacks or withdraws, goes into the classic fight or flight response, that is something that needs to change. Trust me, one tries and fails repeatedly.
Anyway, one is good at failing and trying again. This lone time gave one the opportunity to reach out. It began with one wanting to cut down on excessive interactions from this constant bombardment of depressing forwards. It ends with wanting to be less triggered by the actions and especially words of other individuals. Of course, after much deliberation one’s realized that some things remain better broken: to expose oneself to constant negative labelling, can have a terribly damaging effect on one’s mental well being. The campaign that’s been going for a year can run, one’s good, from afar, not wishing any one anything other than the best but from a distance. The hypersensitivity that one’s been told one suffers from can be and should be used more productively, so here’s hoping to do some good, before one kisses the world adieu!
So for the next few years at least, one plans to tell people one loves them ( I hate I love yous but I have this need to say it these days, still hearing it makes me uneasy), reach out to as many people as one can and to send flying kisses to random strangers. If you have someone you love, be with them and with your families. One’s heart has been divided and occupied for so long, that it’s being unable to. But if one survives the next two years, one’s promised oneself that one will truly try. I will go on a Tinder dating, rampage after that. Love, hump, do what you want but please think about your kid’s futures…assign someone to take care of them, Incase of your sudden demise.
One is recovering steadily, one can figure out just by how restless one is at night. High levels of mental restlessness due to physical inactivity, just means I’ll be back in action. The physical weakness is still prevalent, one prances around the room as one talks over the phone to feel completely exhausted in a bit. Strangely enough, I kept praying for a positive result. Not only for the antibodies but also to know whether the gut instincts are as sharp as they used to be.
Found some useful data, in the middle of the night about CT scans. About how to determine if you’re Covid positive, through a scan and when should you get it done? So this is what I found out. The CT scan should be done after five days, from when the first symptoms crop up. The CT value will determine the severity of infection and the CORAD, which is the standardised grading of the likelihood of being Covid positive is given. The CT score is from a range of 0-25 or in some cases 0-40.
So a CORAD 1, means highly unlikely. CORAD-2- Level of suspicion of COVID-19 is low, CORAD 3- Unsure, typical for other infections, CORAD 4- level of suspicion is high, CORAD 5-typical for COVID 19 and COVID 6- proven RT-PCR positive for SARS COVID 2. Now, in my case on the 11th day the scan says CT-1 and CORAD-6. So the infection is minute but still in the system, but it’s been established as Covid. Thankfully, one was on antibiotics from day one. But this means one should keep one’s butt at home, away from other people, especially when one can spread it, due to the nature of work, till one doesn’t get another test done.
Like me, if you aren’t as terribly unwell, as other people are- with no fever, no severe symptoms but just have a general feeling of lethargy, eye infection, cramps; you’ll know best, what your body normally feels like when its sick or healthy. Listen to it very carefully. This is the time to tune into your inner voice, your intuition because the test results are deceptive, the labs under pressure and the doctors overworked. Plus, come on man, it’s a new virus and a smart one. No one can say for certain, how it’s going to attack each individual and what the symptoms are going to be. So keep yourself safe.
I am convinced, I had it last year, when my mum passed away. People go blue in the face, trying to convince me, otherwise but I’m one of those people who truly believes, no one really knows anything about anything in this world, so I’d rather trust my own instincts. So, let me tell you how it went down. I share this not for the sake of argument but also because you or your family would benefit greatly by being adamant. It might save your life, like it did mine!
My mum passed away on the 18th of March, which was a few days prior to the Janta curfew and a couple of weeks after the first case was declared in Delhi. The virus that we were made aware off, only in December, had been floating around the world, way before that. Anyway, she had been bed ridden for around eight months by then but was doing alright. A couple of weeks before she passed, a new nurse came to look after her. This girl had a headache, a cold and a terrible cough, so I sent her away and got another nurse. Anyhow, the week before she passed away, I took my mum to the doctor for a routine check, she was fine. But on the sixteenth night, she suddenly started running a fever. 99, sore throat and an upset stomach so I took her to the doctor the next morning. Her oxygen levels, sugar, Bp, everything was alright. The doctor prescribed medicines and I brought her home. The next day by the time I woke up, she passed away. The last person she saw that morning, was my dad, who looked at her realized she wasn’t breathing properly. The footage of her death, still sends a shiver down my spine. On arrival to the hospital, she was declared dead. Her death was termed a cardiac arrest!Now, it may or may not have been. Who knows?
But it is the sequence of events which followed, that make me term it a covid death. A few days after my mum passed away, I started to get sick. I had trouble breathing, so much so that I would gasp for air at night. I was taken to the hospital, where they checked my ECG, which was irregular, did my ECHO which was normal and sent me home with a prescription, for Alprax. We were already under lockdown and I told them I tried to give my mum mouth to mouth resuscitation, yet they didn’t ask me to get myself tested for Covid. They said I was just anxious, so every one believed them. I kept getting sicker, people thought I was being dramatic. People kept telling me there’s not a chance she had Covid or you have it. I believed everyone. But Rabb Rakha! Plus there’s someone who is hell bent on saving my life. So, thankfully, he would make video calls at that time, as I was terribly unwell, to see how I was doing and realized I was very sick. He made me take Novamox ( the same antibiotic I took last week) and after a couple of weeks I was fine. I think I had it, am more convinced now, but what do I know? Trust me, you will know, there’s something unusual! So save yourself, if you listen to naysayers you’ll get yourself killed.
Last year, Reuters reported that the Corona virus was circulating in Italy in September 2019. This study was carried on by the National Cancer Institute. Our ceramic rods- raw material for making resistors comes from Hubei in China and anyone who does business, with them will tell you, imports were getting delayed, way before December. In 2019, India was only the 12th largest trade partner of China. How many Indians must have travelled there between September and December?How many people would have come in contact with those people before the declaration? One has to wonder. Anyhow, now look at the current lockdown in Delhi. Do you know how many people are testing negative, inspite of being positive? You think it’s just a failing of the health care system or just that the strain doesn’t get detected? You believe the government will be willing to admit the real figures and would not be pressurising the authorities to keep the statistics lower, like they do in the case of natural calamities or the killings in Kashmir? Maybe they aren’t, so why are the number of tests being conducted decreasing?
Do you really believe a country that is exporting at the scale that China does would let anyone know, what was happening? If this is bio warfare and synthetic, like some people argue, if it is so ( I don’t know) then wouldn’t they wait for it to spread everywhere and then make the announcement or not make it at all, until they feel like they’ll get caught? None of us can be certain what really happened! Even now around the world, the deaths of old, sick, hypertensive, diabetic people are not added to the statics! Do you not wonder, if there was no COVID, would Rishi Kapoor and Irfan Khan, have survived a few more years? I know they were unwell but much healthier, after their treatments. I’m not even counting all the indirect ways in which Covid, has killed many people by playing with their mental well being, like in the case of Sushant Singh. I think all these things all the time, so when I found Vir Das, talking about some of the same thing, on his episode about death, I was glad I’m not the only one. Though, after watching that video, one had to wonder if his mum has actually passed away at the age 65? If when he speaks about this being his job, he’s trying to poke fun at his own grief? But one wonders many things, I’ve been told it’s my greatest flaw.
Read a beautiful line, on FB written by Mukhul ‘ surround yourself with life affirmative individuals and unicorns- they make you believe the ship mustn’t sink!’ Beautiful, na?
To be better prepared for the third wave, the Delhi government is increasing the ICU beds. After the shortage of oxygen cylinders and now vaccines…God knows, our holy places will be better prepared, before any government, wakes up from their slumber. We should give our taxes to them. The choice between Aap and Bjp is like choosing between the devil and the deep blue sea. But still, the deep blue sea is not a monstrous, murderer! One has a feeling enough time in power and they will head there too, to appease to us, the bloody thirsty public!
As the daily Covid positive cases drop and are at the lowest in India since the 26th of April, the infection is prevalent in my body, so one stays put at home. My life affirmative individuals- family and friends, fuss and scold, to ensure that one remains safe. Thankfully, the aunts are super protective and the Wall and Shets are great at yelling. So they won’t let me take a risk even if there was the slightest doubt! A school friend and the sister, who were checking on me, told me I should get myself tested again ( one said blood test, the other a CT scan) but I didn’t have any fever, so I was going to revert to the regular routine, rather than sitting and shipping Jikook, endlessly. That’s until I spoke to a friend who has isolated himself and I realised one doesn’t have the luxury of being careless. There’s a mild infection even after the antibiotics and I got an earful, from the lab. ‘ Can I go out for work?’, I called up after they sent me the result. ‘Ma’am this means you have to consult the doctor and have medicines!’ So, of course one has nothing to do other than to record this time by writing, for posterity. Two more days of isolation!
Spent the past few days, catching up with friends, family, colleagues and a few of the exes. One’s had all the time in the world, during this isolation to go back and forth, re-examine and reevaluate, for which one is most grateful. It seems like we’re all playing Russian roulette, no one knows whose going to survive. Might as well, find out how they’re doing, might be our last chance, won’t even get to know.
It’s been quite sentimental. Human beings are capable of doing the worst to each other, yet in such times of crisis, most people become more humane. Their best versions shine! The human spirit has amazing resilience and is capable of such incredible kindness, that even a deadly disease like this can’t stop it, from helping people. This is a strange time to be alive, one is scared shit for everyone and yet the heart is warmed by the kindness one witnesses.
Of course, even at this time there are people who are black marketing goods and hoarding. Flip side of it I guess. People also continue to be not such nice versions of themselves- the gossip mongering and the taunting continue. One’s an easy target, too many scandals, too many men and zero apology for the life one has lived! Thankfully, the men one is surrounded by from the father, to the brothers, to the friends, to the prospects are beyond being scandalised by any of my escapades. Most of them just plain amused. The women are a different story but you know, if one has to be something else, I’d rather kiss them goodbye, now! Everyone knows practically everything and what you don’t know is tattooed on my body, so booo hooo!
But the vilification is interesting, as a study, as something that happens to someone else, as a story about a character. One day one will record, al the scandals on video and put it out for the whole world to see. Na, it will invade the privacy of the men, so can’t. But just to Scandalise the next partner, before anyone else does. If he flees, he’s not worth it and if he stays, well then it’s cool! Ya, that’s why I’m still single, not! Other people’s contempt is quite a good fuel for the ego! Being watched, examined and taunted, definitely inflates it! Even in these times, a random person, repeatedly creating a site that embeds part of my text into his website and when you click on it, it gets redirected to some shady websites. It’s been going on for months, inspite of my best efforts. Even in these times, due to a difference in political ideology, people you know, insinuating, ‘ oh the only time you’re open minded is at night!’ (trying to take a potshot at a love affair from seven years ago that the man’s friend has gone and blurted to them) or wishing death on you! No guesses required for their political leanings. That’s a low, of another kind! Of course SB, has replies that are terribly viscous but to say something at this time, is not only foolhardy but very insensitive. But one records this just incase, in the near future one forgets, what people are capable off!
Ahh, the lovely scent of rain. I sit on a rickety plastic chair, looking at the R block park which is totally devoid of human beings and full of birds, chirping away to glory. Grateful, one couldn’t have asked for a better place to be isolated. Of course you could argue Goa or the hills, which just proves you’re clueless about exactly how privileged we are. The employees who make us rich- work in our companies, our homes, on our construction sights; three share a tiny room and have to share the toilet with sixteen people. So, forgive me, for thinking one has too much, my comparisons are different.
Feel better, sporadically some symptoms crop up- stomach ache, itchy eyes and of course the constant body pain but one keeps feeling like one is perfectly alright. Got some work done, after a week. Feel a bit chatty today, called up to check up on a few people, promised to party when this thing gets over.
But when is it going to get over? It looks like it’s going to be around for a while. The physical and financial damage it’s doing, everyone is well aware off but the psychological damage is rampant. Even for someone like me, who speaks maximum an hour or two in a day ( unless I am teaching), after a week it starts to get to you. This is despite having the floor to move around, just the thought that all of a sudden it might worsen and it’s packy, wacky time. Am I that unwell? No! I just always imagine the worst case scenario and then take it from there.
So if I were to die soon, do I have any regrets? Not anymore. I’ve said and done what I needed to, it’s a pity my will isn’t registered. Of course, everything will go to charity, preferably Khalsa Aid and I shit you not, if anyone tries to cremate me, I will haunt them till kingdom comes. What scares me is that all my Muslim friends who have promised to find me a place, to be buried, will not be able to turn up. Otherwise, I’m good, death can take me when it wants. Dying in my car would be preferable but on my own bed, is not bad either.
Suicides and depression, separation and divorces, this pandemic is just giving everyone grief. A famous couple gets divorced after 27 years ( Bill And Melinda) and it turns into news. The enslavement of two people to a higher ideal, ‘us’ , purely for the sake of an alliance to expand the family’s labour force, should have become redundant by now, once monogamy became the norm and after women became financially independent. In this day and age, what do women need men for other than war, I have to wonder or viz a viz. Vibrators, IVF, robots- technology is replacing the ‘ need’ for a man/ woman. Companionship and intimacy, aren’t replaceable but one look at married couples and it seems to me, marriage just sucks the passion out of love.
Around the world, divorces have been skyrocketing. There’s a 122% jump in enquires for divorce proceedings, states the BBC. Of course in India, young people are still opting for the arranged alliance and putting themselves up, to be tied to the best bidder. Maybe, there’s some wisdom in it, who knows. I might just be J, incapable as one isn’t a saleable package-average looking loner, with below average intelligence, with too many tatoos, a sailors mouth and a stubbornness that could only be inherited. I should turn this into a matrimonial ad and to it I should add- not doing it enough, will 200% lead to a divorce. Forget marriage, they’ll put me on a cross and torch me! I’m definitely putting this on my- if I survive the next two years ( Covid) list. It’s a work in progress, unfortunately everything on it requires me to grow up, which is highly unlikely!
The isolation makes one realize how privileged one is. To have space to move around, is a blessing. Though, the results are negative, one feels like crap. The eyes are starting to trouble again, the body pains are the same, there’s a problem with the throat. But everything else is alright.
It’s frustrating not being able to read at all but my -8, eyes and mind tend to get affected the most when one is unwell. ‘Keep your spirits high, my baby and talk to your friends’ says my aunt, who fusses over me, like a mother hen. ‘Talking takes too much energy and makes me feel sapped on a normal day, right now, I don’t have the strength to!’ I reply. The aunts (my dad’s sisters) have taken me under their wings, since mum’s passing. The father of course, hasn’t spoken to one in six days, which one should be used to, ‘cause he’s always been like that with everybody but SC is too sensitive. Nevertheless, concerned childhood friends and family rally around, for which one is most grateful. SC, loves being scolded and fussed over, so she’s chuffed. But one does feel useless and a little bit like a fraud, getting so much attention when all one really feels is extreme fatigue.
Of course, one is always open to speaking to the male friends ( I’m not misogynistic but most men one hangs with are hilarious, my female friends bit too serious) call up to check on R, who too is recovering. ‘ Now you know, what I was talking about Ma’am?’ he laughs. Of course, we discuss all the places we are going to hang out at, whenever we can. One is always game for spontaneous plans and this one is too much fun. As is V, who called up to check on me. This time a bit too serious, ‘don’t take this lightly, I just lost my classmate today. He was alright yesterday and today he’s no more!’ he sounded really upset and concerned. Who would have thought, we’ll see this day? It’s horrible. Our dead are just turning into statistics, mere numbers against this fight!
However, this is a good time to take stock of our lives. To imagine a different way of being, to invent a different lifestyle, for planning a life away from this hustle bustle, re prioritising and rearranging everything, especially relationships. People keep saying, relationships are important but no one realizes how much of our time and our lives, we give to unnecessary ones. So, I’ve being doing a serious rethink, of who and what I will give my energy to. In the end, it’s just going to be you and the people who really, truly care about you, fighting this fight against Covid or any other fight you will ever take on in your life. So conserve the energy!
The test result is negative but one’s been asked to stay home and isolated for a few days. The symptoms persist-upset stomach, excruciating pain in the legs, pain in the throat and congestion. No fever, no cold and the oxygen levels are okay.
Though I would have loved to cover all the Gurudwaras, doing oxygen seva, one is in no rush to step out for one’s own work. It’s just that the 65 year old father, is still going to the factory (the govt is encouraging factory owners to run their units as they don’t want to aggrevate the migrant worker’s issue) which is terribly worrisome. One hates being of no use to him right now. Wish they would enforce a stricter curfew for the sake of everyone’s safety.
So, turns out one might be positive. Since day before yesterday one was getting severe body aches and cramps in the stomach. Of course, the man in the house yelled and screamed till his face went blue. ‘You have to look after yourself, I’m incapable of it! Don’t expect me to look after you!’ As if one was unaware of that! Eye roll! In any case even if he was, politicians, journalists and their parents are dying, no one can save anyone right now!
So one’s grown up listening to , ‘Sheikh apni apni dekh!’ which roughly translates to you got to save your own ass! Sounds good but invariably it’s meant, ‘all our problems like sickness, loneliness, debts are your problems and all of your problems are only your problems!’ Which is great! It’s made me who I am! But there are times when you don’t want to hear it. You kind of want to say, ‘ I told you so!’ But that’s neither going to change the situation nor is it going to stop him from continuing what he’s doing. So be it!
Anyhow, kahavat he, jiska koi nahin hota uska khudda hota he and turns out I do ( surprisingly) have people around who want to ensure I am ok. While my aunts speak to a doctor and start me on meds, a childhood friend has booked an appointment with a lab for home collection. One’s overwhelmed by their thoughtfulness. Now, the tricky thing is keeping the spirits high. One tends to become terribly anxious when one is sick, which invariably increases the blood pressure and aggregates the breathing. So over dozing on BTS and funny videos on YouTube.
Came to Srinagar yesterday, armed with all that SB comes with-bitchiness, arrogance, anger, resentment and as soon as the plane touched the runaway of Srinagar Airport, SC was back in all her glory. I’ve been told by many, any place outside of Delhi, I’m nicer. They get to see the other one, I guess.
One’s recently becoming more and more aware of one’s privileges. To be fair, when you live a life, that your relatives term, ‘living under poverty line’, your view of reality and your privileges is quite skewed and mine despite all my travels and having friends from different strati of society, still is. Read an article before coming here, about how these three boys travelled to Kashmir and used public transport to go from one place to other and I realized twelve years down the line and that is something, I’ve barely done. I have no idea, what it’s like to catch a bus from the airport. So yesterday, I did. It cost 70 bucks and I met interesting characters, on the way. A girl from Ladakh who was coming from Delhi but staying in Srinagar, a man who was returning from hibernation and so and so forth. But if you are pressed for time, you’ll be waiting for forty minutes on the bus, as passengers fill the seats, slowly.
Hats off to those young lads, who managed going from one destination to other by local transport because to find a local bus, in the winter, to take you to Pahalgam or Gulmarg is impossible. I tried and even the local passenger taxis don’t take you to Pahalgam, straight. They drop you at Anantnag and from there you have to catch another one cab to Pahalgam. Since, one is here for work and not for budget travelling, I chucked the idea of doing that. Lugging my overweight bag around, in the winter, by myself, waiting for local taxis, isn’t a feasible option for me. The anonymity that it grants you, though, is quite enticing. Some other time, for now, Farookh Uncle (my cab guy) and I remain steadfast companions.
Sohail Hashmi, the most eminent heritage walk leader, in Delhi, took us around Connaught Place, last Sunday. What draws me to his walks, is not just an admiration for his knowledge about the city, per se, but his persona in totality. There’s a gentleness and an intensity, about his demeanour, that draws throngs of people to his walks.
This was the first time, Mr Hashmi conducted a walk in the heart of Delhi- Connaught Place and though he said it required a bit of tweaking, all the participants, really enjoyed walking around, listening to historical facts juxtaposed with his personal anecdotes.
Connaught Place, steers many childhood memories. This hub of New Delhi, is practically where one grew up. Convent of Jesus and Mary, my alma mater which is opposite the Gole Dhak Khana- the octagonal, New Delhi General Post Office Building, is a stone throw away from where all the business and partying take place. Many a birthday parties, dates, class bunks and mishaps have happened in CP. Even now, since one detests malls, many a weekends are spent, enjoying a live concert within these iconic corridors.
Check out Heritage Walks with Sohail Hashmi, on FB, to remain updated on the schedule.
‘The world won’t fall if you’re not holding it up…just take a minute, put your mind on ice. And you try and you try and you’re trying. But the burden is heavy and overgrown. And God knows that we all get tired. It’s a long night, when you have to do it on your own and I hate how you talk to yourself. It’s not weak if you need to be held. So cut off a little slack and roll all your cavalry back. My love take care of yourself.’ The song by Maisie Peters plays on and I wake up from my slumber, thinking I’m in bed listening to it on repeat as usual, SC trying soothe SB.
But I was on a plane, landing in Kashmir, after the ordeal at the airport. So, if the travel bug is biting you, drive down because flying is a terrible idea. Now, don’t go blaming my fear for it. The pictures should be self explanatory. The chances of picking up an infection are terribly high. I should have worn the PPE kit, I had bought and covered my hair. Also, it would have been a good idea to get the boarding pass printed, instead of downloading it because the wait and the chaos at the airport, thanks to that, was maddening. Incase, you are planning to fly, reach there not 2 hours earlier, in fact I would suggest two and hours before your departure. There’s absolute chaos at the airport and flying would have been a better idea, two months ago, when the flights were empty.
More than seventy percent, of the people on the flight were of course from the CRPF, BSF and the Indian Army. How I know this is because there was a separate queue for them at the airport. We should brace ourselves, the shit is just beginning to hit the ceiling.
There are a lot more people on the street. But it’s a bad idea to go out, since most people are not maintaining social distance. This increases and poses as a risk to not only your own existence but also to the existence of the people around you. I think I should just stay home and not venture out.