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July 27, 2021: We all have promises to keep

July 27, 2021: We all have promises to keep. With or without disasters and pandemics we make commitments. I do for sure, as do many others. These are explicit promises and when we are unable to keep those we turn to excuses. Phone calls to answer. The pandemic has tested us in this as well. Will I be able to do what I had said I would do? For work, for bondhus, for relationships. What happens if I fail? Do I hide behind excuses, drawing from the “mother of all excuses” – the pandemic. I could not deliver because of the pandemic. Or does one say, we will deliver in spite of the pandemic. I met people today who are in the latter category. In the energy of the conversation I realized I am surrounded by people who have accepted that our lives have been changed and whatever bubble we used to live in and want to retreat back into is now gone. And we planned, we talked, we know there will be a new wave of infections soon, and we worked with that in mind. Add in about 2 months to any schedule

July 26, 2021: There is rains on the way

July 26, 2021: There is rains on the way. There was a memorandum from the government last week promising some rain this week starting today. Amazingly, the government was correct. The rains came in the afternoon. I was elsewhere sharing my time with people in Florida and China as my bondhu munched on the infamous beguni with beet noon (impossible to explain to non-Bengalis, but it is a fritter made of thin slices of eggplant), especially on a rainy day. Time and place blended together as the rain pounded outside. I was delivered an under-performing vehicle in the morning. I was thinking of the arguments that usually follow with sub-par services. The pandemic has led to a surfeit of sanitizers that are sprayed in the rental car. It smells like a hospital in the car. But this is the product of the pandemic. A new sense of cleanliness. Everything must be washed. Several times. Some scientists somewhere seem to have suggested that the most recent variant can be transmitted by touch bringin

July 25, 2021: A day without transport

July 25, 2021: A day without transport. I did not have a car today. It was Devdas to the rescue. Even though it was a day of inactivity, the notion of not having a ready transport was disconcerting. Yet, I really had no reason to go out, to go any place that a camera and a computer could not take me; even then I felt the need for the absent transport. The leftovers of the yester months. The night lockdown has placed a strong sense of anxiety on the city. You can never be sure if the police will stop you or not. It is a benign form of Russian roulette. But it has changed the way of life. My cousin and my nephew stopped by in the evening. As we sat and reminisced, right around 8:45 in the evening, a restlessness begins. Is it time to leave, or is it worth the risk? Should we complete the story about the ancestors. Of the people who came before, whose stories will be lost unless the oral history is scribed. I did not know that my father was once a fugitive from the British police, having

July 24, 2021: The full moon looks the same

July 24, 2021: The full moon looks the same. Looking at the full moon from the prop plane at night has a charm that is quite unparalleled. I have not been on a prop commercial plane for a long time. But the flight today was on such a plane. Armed with a negative COVID-19 report, we left in pounding rain early in the morning. I was wondering on the short flight, looking at Chilka lake below, how different people have handled the pandemic. The group I was meeting with seemed to have taken it in stride. Months of video meetings culminated in this single day meeting. There was a complete weekend lockdown at my destination. They said it is best not to stay the night at a hotel. In and out. Sanitized car. Double masked. A little afraid. Showering my hands with sanitizer. Sanitized guest room. Distanced meeting. But life goes on. The meetings were productive. An amazing lunch, served on banana leaves, completely safe. No one used the bio-degradable “plate” before and no one will again. Had th

July 23, 2021: Learning to drive again

July 23, 2021: Learning to drive again. Today I achieved an important thing. I passed the first part of the learner’s driver’s license test. I have been driving for a long time, but it is not the license that matters. It is the creation of a new narrative of life. New identities, new realities. The American drivers license along with the International Drivers Permit allows me to drive anywhere in the World, almost. And I have. Not only driven a lot but have driven badly a lot. Stopped by Polish police after leaving the memorial of a concentration camp, hauled over in Madrid for driving into a one-way street, nearly stopped by police for an incident in Singapore, crashed a car driving from Cardiff to London, numerous speeding tickets in different parts of the World most recently after entering the Bypass from the Hyatt connector out of Salt Lake City. A checkered driving records. But today was different. As the rain poured, I stood in the line making a new part of my life story. Talking

July 22, 2021: Portuguese salami tastes like friendship

July 22, 2021: Portuguese salami tastes like friendship. It was a day when things changed rapidly. Two days ago my cousin had to be admitted to the hospital. It all worked as expected. Today a business meeting had to be cancelled because another flare up of an illness. This is normal. This is no longer a pandemic-driven life but life with the pandemic. Normal things are happening. Sudden illness. Bottle of wine. Portuguese salami washed down with wine and topped off with home-made egg roll. Late evening phone calls with familiar voices. Advising students working on a master’s degree. Meeting about work. The real comes to a hard stop at 9 pm. Few people venture out. The police may stop and slap a fine. The wine needs to be finished by 8:45 pm. Gatherings moved over to lunch at the club, not the extended evenings because everything must wrap up, and the cars must be parked by 9 pm. I have gone out occasionally after the witching hour and the roads would be deserted. The city shuts down.

July 21, 2021: My workspace is not a place

July 21, 2021: My workspace is not a place. From the beginning of the pandemic I retreated to holes to work. There are no windows there. There is no outside light there. There is only entrance and one exit. The big screen wall can show me the outside world through strategically placed cameras. The front yard, the back yard the camera at Yellowstone, the Redondo Beach, and the Big Ben. I do not have to move from one chair, my background is blurred out, I stay as a face on the screen. I have created two such workspaces. No outside light comes in, everything is controlled by a series of computers that reminds me of meetings and classes and gatherings with the gentle sound of Tchaikovsky. In each of these spaces time ceases to exist because time and light are connected. The sun. The night. The lightnings. They all disappear in these spaces. The large projection on the walls take me to the places I want to visit. The deer in the front yard triggers an alarm and I can look out. A catastrophi