Showing posts from June, 2021

July 1, 2021, Commentary from after dinner

July 1, 2021, Commentary from after dinner: Frantic. Things change quickly. Even as the day begins normally, things can change. Today, on this stalled-monsoon day, some people truly showed that they knew what they were doing. These are people just going about doing their work and pitching in to do more. It started with a bondhu needing some support with a family member at a hospital. There was a need for COVID-19 tests, perhaps blood and eventually a room in the hospital. In most cases some of these tasks can get to be yet another source of stress for the family. Today, the volunteers kicked in and it was really impressive to see how quickly they were able to make the connections and were in a position to offer the support if that was needed. But it was not just them, one can see the willingness to support as needed amongst so many people. Devdas pitched in and was ready to step in. Then the needs shifted and a whole other community pitched in. As they have so many times, over and over

June 30, 2021 Commentary from my familiar hole

June 30, 2021 Commentary from my familiar hole: The nomad is always awake. “Phone ta pashei aache.” Time becomes increasingly a commodity to be rationed, and used judicially. You gain some and you lose some. In the end it all adds up. One could be driving at 1:30 am in the local time in one place when the body wants to be in another time. But there is a value to this. If I have learned something from the pandemic is that time has the potential of becoming global. I have taught at 1:30 am, I have been in a meeting at 9:00 in the morning when the rest of the people in the meeting are getting ready to eat a meal before going to bed. The challenge of this possible post-COVID-19 scenario could be quite real. This was going on before the pandemic but on the fringes of mainstream life. I remember many times I was “patched” in on a meeting on the phone and there were curiosities how it is possible to meet from anywhere, in such meetings we rarely remembered what time it was for the others. We

June 29, 2021 Commentary at 600 miles per hour

June 29, 2021 Commentary at 600 miles per hour: Sitting at airports make you contemplate. Think a bit. And realize that there have been many times I have been taken aback by the way the World around me has operated. These are not significant things, and mostly just mundane events that make you consider why they happen. Memory is fickle. Looking at the airport, with people falling off the seams, one realizes that dark memories are abhorred and quicker forgotten the better. Those days of horror. Those days of an extreme uneasiness, depending on the affliction. Those moments, those days, those weeks are blocked out. Because survival depends on those moments being deposited in some recess of the mind where it may be locked away forever. But what else will we forget about the months that, at least in Southern California, appears to be memories? Will we forget the people who were at your side when you may have been ill? Will you forget the frantic work you did to offer support for those in n

June 28, 2021 Commentary with my son

June 28, 2021 Commentary with my son: They call it “La La Land” for a reason. There is good amount of dreaming but there is also a good dose of reality. COVID-19 provided the reality check to an industry that has relied on people getting together in a packed space to consume entertainment. The Sunset Strip. The Comedy Store. Whiskey a’ go go. People have to gather at a place to be able to provide the patronage for this profession. And even though aquariums are open not all the venues are open in LA. COVID-19 might have disappeared from the LA Story, there are still pockets burning with the energy of frustration. But I spent the day with a few people who were able to take that energy and convert it to creative energy and strive to improve upon what was planned just before the pandemic. I had the opportunity to see the work of an artist whose hands can sculpt things from clay, and listen to the music that is made right there right then. Within that creative energy, it is easy to put COVI

June 27, 2021 Commentary from a place far away: From where I was born

June 27, 2021 Commentary from a place far away: From where I was born. The greetings and well wishes started early. When life is stretched over time zones and loved ones and well-wishers remember the calendar date it might not be exactly the calendar date that is true for you, where you are. But that is the nature of the new life, especially crystalized by COVID-19. The connections have been strengthened on Zoom. Traditions and memories were made over the last 52 weeks. My cousins, who all came to the zoom room with their kind words and their wishes would not have been collectively there to do the wishes had we not reconnected when the boredom of lockdowns drew us to the screen. We discovered connections, the ability to have a beverage “together” – time and place appropriate. On the screen. And that happened today. But even before that, the early wishes came from people who cared, a WA message – indeed the first wish – much anticipated and much welcomed. A phone call from across the Wo

June 26, 2021 Commentary from a hotel room

June 26, 2021 Commentary from a hotel room: If you were anywhere in the LA area today you would have to believe we are over all our troubles. Pacific Highway was bumper to bumper. I-405 was taking about 45 minutes from Inglewood to Westwood. A restaurant in Malibu reprimanded me for not making a reservation and promised a table in two to three hours. And it is just a regular Saturday morning. No masks. The entire memory wiped away and an unknown new World is being welcome through the blaring rap on Santa Monica beach welcoming the Birders, the Boarders and the cyclists and the gentle refreshing aroma of ganja, legal in LA, whiffs through the air. California is comfortably numb. Sitting on the sand, by myself, surrounded by thousands frolicking on the beach. 600,000 deaths wiped from memory. Summer is back. As I got numbed by the experience of watching life going by me I realized that I am a pessimist in this context. I am trying to find a reason to be anxious. The zoom gathering in the

June 25, 2021 Commentary from the sofa

June 25, 2021 Commentary from the sofa: Perseverance. Patience. Hope. If the unprecedented COVID-19 experience has taught some of us something then it is awareness that things change radically with little warning. For the color festival of 2020 (Dol) I was with a close bondhu and others. That day, we had no idea how are lives will change. The next day, at Bangkok airport, I took a picture in which there was a Buddhist monk wearing a mask. I found that curious. In about two weeks everything changed. Without warning. Everything shut down. And soon all over the World. Salt Lake went into an unprecedented lock down along with the rest of the country. LA shut down its entertainment industry. Artists who were ready to launch their groundbreaking ideas simply had to apply the brakes. Today, carefully, the brake is being pulled back. But that period between the shutdown and the slow opening was an opportunity for those who could weather the storm of lost revenue. And there were the ones who ha

June 24, 2021, Commentary from the West

June 24, 2021, Commentary from the West: Moving through time zones poses an interesting challenge. I am not sure when I am writing. Usually, I write at night – wherever I am. And it is night now. A night after watching another part of the World handle the current crisis. Things are normalized here. There is a certain flirtation with masks. Some use, some don’t. The logic is unclear. It becomes confusing when you are in a new place. I have been in just two places since the pandemic started. Which is one more place than many people I know. And now I am in a third place. I have been here before during the pandemic, once in June 2020, when the city was shut down. Storefronts were boarded up, not only because of the pandemic but also because of the riots. It was a dead city. Then in November of 2020 it looked a little different. There was some more preparation, a little more sense of control. Today it was back to the twenty-seven minutes for a ten-mile drive. The brown haze clouded the moun

June 23, 2021 Commentary from a mile high

June 23, 2021 Commentary from a mile high: Travel. It is back. The airports are swelling with people. The security lines are taking time. The restaurants are full. There is no space for bags on the plane. Simultaneously there is a frantic call to vaccinate and find ways to get the vaccine out. I spent some time with a person who runs a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO), and we developed the plans of a vaccine drive starting with Gobindapur. Vaccines are available. For a price, and there needs to be coordination to make sure they can be given out. There is a real price for this – nothing is free. There are many who may not be able to afford it and there the NGO and people like me, supported by bondhus in places such as Wake Forest U, will jump in and start to fill the gap. As I sit here, I wonder what the World looks like from the top of the Control Tower at an airport. They are perched so high, above us, they can see all. Is there anyone who can see all of the crisis that is ending.

June 22, 2021, Commentary after the restaurant

June 22, 2021, Commentary after the restaurant: A bondhu told me today that the posts in April and May had the grittiness of war time reporting. Death. Anxiety. Horror. Make for good copy, it does. But now we are in the lull. Now we can sit at a restaurant and sip a glass of wine. Maskless. Fearless. Foolhardy. Today, Bangalore opened up. Most restrictions lifted. By the time I am home everything is expected to be open. Galouti kebab at Aafra. A stolen afternoon of gin and lime at Mani Square. Perhaps a jaunt to the club. The Lull. The news is alive with the predictions of the next wave. I look around, and I realize that some of the people have no idea what is about to hit them. 2 weeks. After July 4. Delta. This time the hit will be brutal. Red states and blue states. You can hear the rumblings on media. Are we making a mistake? One bondhu put it up on Facebook. A picture of people in a restaurant and it was captioned: “the foundations of the 3 rd wave.” So, I would be labelled as th

June 21, 2021, Commentary from the lawn

June 21, 2021, Commentary from the lawn: It is that magical time. The warm humidity draws the fireflies out of the ground. Like natural drones they flicker and light up the night. The lawn becomes luminescent as the aroma of corn roasting on the fire circulates in the air-conditioned interior. Elsewhere, my bondhus are stirring out of bed, and even elsewhere someone I care for is getting ready for the evening as it sets down on the metropolis and the city lights up next to the ocean. My life is spread over places. Loved ones everywhere. Some are roasting corn, some are stirring out of bed, and some are getting ready for a busy evening. The flirtation. The anticipation. Being here, there, and also there. Phone calls and WhatsApp messages, a hard cider with some, or a “Good Morning” from another, a video call with one, and watching Fawlty Towers with another. Today I was in Calcutta, Winston, Los Angeles, and Bhubaneshwar. Place has disappeared from life. I wait for the messages from one

June 20, 2021, Commentary from my familiar hole

 June 20, 2021, Commentary from my familiar hole: Today was a good day. The numbers seem to be going down in many different places and regulations are being loosened to the relief of many. But that is about Covid. Because I started writing in the backdrop sever conditions around Covid in Calcutta in April and May of 2021, my focus has been on Covid. Today was different. The World celebrated the “father” today. The posts on digital networks were replete with tributes to numerous fathers across the World, some in the World and some not. Telephone calls, like the one from my son, reverberated in the World. In the homes of some classes of people across the World there might have been special lunches and dinners. The restaurants forgot Covid, forgot that there are real threats, and the customers arrived in droves to celebrate the father. The Biriyani order took about an hour to be ready for pick up as I watched the first seating get over and the restaurant getting ready for the next wave of

June 19, 2021 Commentary from it is about to rain here

June 19, 2021 Commentary from it is about to rain here: Wars are messy things. Especially when they are over. Is it proper to celebrate victory when so many have fallen? Is it proper to mock and hurt the enemy whose very existence is met with the righteous punishment by the victorious? Actually, mostly people count bodies, tally up the numbers. Check their accuracy and then file them away for posterity. Making it numbers is sufficient to distance us from the war. Counting and classifying the dead, bring closure to the annoying “Missing in Action” category. Now, allegedly there are 75,000 missing in action in just one state. The news is headlined as “Bihar Saw Nearly 75,000 Unaccounted Deaths Amid 2nd COVID-19 Wave, Data Shows.” How is the unaccounted shown by data? Isn’t “unaccounted data” an oxymoron? Perhaps as all oxymorons it inadvertently reveals a paradox. We see the paradox of trying to bring order to the fog of war through crystal clear numbers. A quest for clarity becomes more

June 18, 2021, Commentary with a movie on TV

June 18, 2021, Commentary with a movie on TV: Today is a new day of introspection. This is the first time that June 19 th is being remembered. Officially. In fact, going forward it will be a national holiday. How we treat this day in the future will be a testament of who we are as people. It was a day that was unofficial so far. Now it has been made official. It is important to make things official. Maybe that makes it real and people would pay attention. We need more attention at times. This is true for many things. The more things seem to get out of whack, as it has for the several months, making things official sometimes offers a sense of stability. An official recognition, an official remembrance all seems to stabilize histories. The need for stability is essential for us. Be it the commemoration of a seminal moment in history or the declaration that we are getting over whatever is the current crisis. Because there is always a crisis. This is another reality that has become pandem

June 17, 2021, Commentary from my favorite sofa

June 17, 2021, Commentary from my favorite sofa: It has been raining a lot. The roads are getting “waterlogged.” That is an interesting term, not sure of the exact origin. It basically means that the streets get flooded because it rains harder than the water can be cleared out by the drainage system. There is a metaphor for life there. Too much comes too fast and it cannot be cleared out. Devdas said it was raining hard, and their neighborhood is in a slightly low-lying area next to the high rises of Newtown. I wonder what their water situation is. On days like this there is a guilty pleasure of sleeping in as the monsoon rain shifts between a pitter patter and the torrent. I know someone who did feel guilty because of getting up a little later than usual, as did I today. Where does this guilt come from? Is it a work ethic? Or is it cumulated anxiety of the uncertainty of the past several months and not knowing where things are going, will there be new business, will there be new work,

June 16, 2021 Commentary while waiting for food

June 16, 2021 Commentary while waiting for food: I have been recently involved with two fund raising events. The first was for the work with the wave of infections and the need for so many things from O2 to food for the people unemployed by the lockdown. That effort was very successful. The O2Cs were obtained, the set of people started to answer phone calls through the virtual call center, and Devdas continues to provide food and medicines to the families who had lost income from the lockdown. Now, I have to reassess. Mani Square is open, and I could actually go to Spencer’s and get my groceries. Do not have to have it delivered. The number of shops open is still few and the place is running at a fraction of its full capacity. Perhaps, there are many in our cohort in Gobindapur are still unemployed. That fund raiser led to things that brought a ray of hope, some support, and a sense of accomplishment to those who were answering the calls. The second fund raiser was a little different.

June 15, 2021 Commentary from under the fan

June 15, 2021 Commentary from under the fan: It was a hot day. The fan breeze out in the porch felt nice as the day was closing out and the fireflies would rise up from the grass and play their strange dance in the twilight. The birds are quieting down and no one, thankfully is using a grass mower that makes the terrible racket. The tempo is slow. I can understand the meaning of the “slow news days.” As I write with a certain sense of uneasiness I realize that the only things to talk about continue to be COVID-19. Today, is the day that we reached 600,000 dead in a part of the World I also call home. Again, 600,000. Since counting began sometimes in March 2020, a little more than a year ago. This is only in one country. That leads the World in the number of deaths. How does that happen? With only housing 5% of the population of the World it leads the World in the number of deaths. This number needs to be put in perspective in our forgetful minds as we continue forward hurriedly burying

June 14, 2021, Commentary from my favorite sofa

June 14, 2021, Commentary from my favorite sofa: The lockdown has been extended. In a strange way though. If one tries to fully gather the details of the extension, there might be some moments of confusion. On the one hand some places are open. How do you control the occupancy level at Mani Square to 30%? Of what? What is the denominator? Is it the official number of people allowed there? There must be a finite number written down somewhere. So will it 30% of that number at any moment in time? Clock in and clock out, so at any time the percentage stays at 30. I wonder. How do 25% of office employees get to the office if public transportation is still locked down. Wil South City Mall be open for longer hours than the local mudir dokaan (grocery store). There must be good answers to these. I have tried to figure it out, but I am still a little confused. Private vehicles need an e-pass to drive around, then how will I get to the mall? Will there be an e-pass? The entire COVID-19 experienc

June 13, 2021 Commentary again from the porch

 June 13, 2021 Commentary again from the porch: The days go on, slowly like the summer weekends are supposed to be. Things look amazingly like 2019. The memories are getting rewired. We have eluded dystopia; it seems for now. Went out to a restaurant for dinner last night. It took a long time to get the food. And that was OK. Just the sound and the people around, all unmasked, seemed to make the wait bearable. Were we willing to wait at home when the closest thing to the restaurant was a slightly cleaner dining table, all the clutter moved out and space made for a dinner that was not cooked at home, but delivered from the restaurant that is five minutes by car but had become out of bounds. Thus we would prepare the table for the same food that we would be served in the restaurant, a little warmer, perhaps, and the French fries had not become a little soggy or the double-egg chicken roll had not wilted a little. How long were we willing for that dinner? Cooped up at home and eating virt

June 12, 2021, Commentary from downtown

 June 12, 2021, Commentary from downtown: We are at another inflection point as we are flirting between real life and the virtual. Covid is probably coming to an end. And so, we must want to believe. So today at Zoom we are thinking about how enjoyable our Zoom has been for the past year. Do we still need it? Or are we in a space now where the virtual can be set aside and the real will take over. Like it used to be. Do we want to go back to where it used to be? Maybe not everyone. May be not me. There are corporations that are starting to think about how to learn from Covid and utilize this information to come back to a reality which is split between the real and the virtual. Someone called it the hybrid way of working. There is this sense of uncertainty. Went downtown for dinner. The restaurants are open, but our order took nearly 40 minutes. Would not be acceptable in the old days. A year ago. But everything in pardonable now, it is all because of the plague. One of my doctor bondhu

June 11, 2021, Commentary from in front of Zoom

  June 11, 2021, Commentary from in front of Zoom: A strange thing happened today. It was preceded by an event on Wednesday, and I wrote about it. On Wednesday I resurrected the afternoon cocktail on the porch. People came. We saw each other. Unmasked. As if we were back in 2019. The June of 2019, when there were celebrations on the porch before going away to the mountain desert. Leh. And this Wednesday, two year later, seemed to erase the lost year in our collective lives. We shared a drink, we laughed. Laughed. When this was cruelly snatched from us in 2020, I invited people to the screen. How could there be a summer without the gatherings. The wine. The pretzels. Before the verandah. The time on the verandah seemed impossible without the time on the porch. In 2020 there was no verandah. Locked down and locked out. So, I invited all to meet in the virtual porch. And people came. On some days. the screen was full of the tiny rectangles. We spoke in excited voices, we picked up our pri

June 10, 2021, Commentary from the hole

June 10, 2021, Commentary from the hole: There was a brief message from Devdas today. He is my trusted auto rickshaw driver and my agent to distribute the food and medicines. His wife, he said, was not well. There was a certain anxiety in the voice that clashed with the relative peace in my life now. Nothing much is happening. It must be summer. Things, for a bit, are going as expected. I have forgotten what it actually means to say that things are going well. There was no news of deaths today. That is a good thing. There was actually news that the current wave of Covid is receding. Fewer than a 100 died today. That is what the official numbers are. Vaccination is on the rise. My trusted bondhu at an NGO reached out and said that they are ready to collaborate. Their office will be a few houses from my place. It could be a good relationship. Mostly news that seemed to suggest that a summer effect was coming in. My bondhu, perhaps fully recovered from Covid, seemed to be having a good da

June 9, 2021, Commentary from a screened porch

June 9, 2021, Commentary from a screened porch: Community is coming back. The Wednesday afternoon cocktail has been restarted. A few people came. We did not talk about Covid. We talked about many things, but we did not talk too much of Covid. One person complemented my video, there was talk of Sarees, there were conversations of aged relatives. There was some wine, chips and dips. After the trauma of April and May, this afternoon was strangely different. It is a claw back to the old days. In 2020 I was unable to host the summer cocktails on Wednesday. Today it seemed we are back to 2019. Earlier I was with the angels. We are reinventing our effort now that the disease is on the way out. Temporarily. We have entered a new phase – where we are going beyond Oxygen, we are becoming what is increasingly called the 360 approach. Looking at the whole gamut of needs. Flexibility. Devdas said the need for food continues, as does the need for medicines. My trusted medicine shop will have everyth

June 8, 2021, Commentary from a smelly place

June 8, 2021, Commentary from a smelly place: Cooking is smelly work. With the spices we use to make a simple Bengali chicken curry it offers a marvelous flavor all across the house. Some say the houses owned by Indians in the USA do not sell well. They cook Indian food, and the smell gets into the drywalls. Short of taking down and rebuilding the walls the Indian family will leave the traces of their lives in the walls of the house. We leave traces. I was cooking a meat loaf and the entire house smelt of West Virginia in Salt Lake. In other places it smells of Rogan Josh when it is snowing outside. Covid taught many to cook. With the trains stopped for nearly five months the trusted “mashi” was not showing up, and men took to cooking. There were jokes and memes about that and for me it was mildly amusing. For thirty-seven years I have cooked. I do not like to cook. But I had no choice. I learnt over the years from Kosha Mangso (mutton curry) to the infamous Nizam Roll. The turkey for

June 7, 2021, Commentary from a stormy place

June 7, 2021, Commentary from a stormy place: It came from the West. I was driving. Right around 6:00 in the evening, the sky turned an ominous dark shade of blue. The clouds were not grey but actually a deep shade of blue. The bright red traffic lights stood out in sharp contrast to that blue. It looked a little ominous like the picture of clouds my bondhu sent me from the other side of the World. What connects these two Worlds of mine? Sometimes it is the rain – the storm – bringing the same relief everywhere. I ran through the rain, head covered with a plastic grocery bag, the fish getting wet in my hand. This fish was not a fish out of water. I got drenched as did I am sure many others as they scurried from the rain in Gariahat, perhaps out shopping just like me. What connects my two lives together? What is the thread that runs through these lives? What does connect our lives together, as we share rain pictures from balconies across the World over WhatsApp? Is it shared recent mise

June 6, 2021, Commentary from my familiar hole

June 6, 2021, Commentary from my familiar hole: Today, one day, was the beginning of the end. Victory was in sight – written in the blood of the fallen. The waves kept hitting relentlessly, they fell like flies, the bodies were strewn all around. An unseen enemy hidden behind a protective cover – kept up a relentless attack. There was no time to move the bodies. Trampled over, some left to dies. But they pressed on. Victory was in sight. Many perished today, one day. And perhaps 77 years later someone will write again of such days. And how the end came in sight, it took till the end of August, but the overlord prevailed and over thousands of deaths a peace returned. A normalcy returned. Colleges will start up; I saw the news today and someone said that schools in some parts of the World will open a little earlier than expected because we are winning. The dead that was left back on the beaches did not know we were winning. Those who perished gasping for breath did not know we are winnin

June 5, 2021, Commentary from my hole

June 5, 2021, Commentary from my hole: How do you want to die? Imagine you are 73 years old. You are too young to die, but there could be good reasons that you will die. How do you delay death? Imagine massive blockage in the channels that carry life-giving blood to you. I have had bondhus who saw such things, folks my age, did the procedures and now live a good life. I have known of my father dying from the same procedure – or its aftermaths. And I now have someone for whom I worry. An open-heart surgery. Did nature intend it to be this way? Cut open the protective shell, tear away through the sinews, cut into the very life-giving beating heart, and amend nature and give life back. Cut into the eye, take out the fluid, amend nature, replace the fluid with artificial oil, and hope to give vision back. And take away 365 days out of a person’s life. And still no vision after that. I know this. We cannot always successfully mess with nature. My father never came home from the hospital. Th

June 4, 2021 Commentary from a green place

 June 4, 2021 Commentary from a green place: The heat has turned into a sordid humidity. In Bengali it is called “bhypasha” heat (gorom). The air conditioner does not even have to cool, all it needs is to dry. In such situations you sweat while you shower, and once out of the shower the best way to dry oneself is to enter an airconditioned place which cools and dries. The air conditioner woks as a dehumidifier just like in the basement where the air can get damp in the summer and the dehumidifier keeps the basement comfortable. Comfort. A quest for us. Choose that space of comfort, of contentment, of safety. It is not about COVID-19 only. It is rediscovering comfort and contentment. The impending end to the lockdown. Eleven days and counting. The freedom from fear, and on July 4 th we truly declare independence. With officially 40% or more having received the two doses of a vaccine, comfort is round the corner. As I continue to straddle two spaces, two times, two lives, two sets of bo

June 3, 2021 Commentary from a steel back chair

June 3, 2021 Commentary from a steel back chair: Restaurants will be open from 5 to 8 in the evening. The bazaars have an extra hour of shopping time. And, maybe, maybe, the shopping malls will have limited openings from June 16. The power of the exponent. The numbers are going down because this wave might have run out of energy and now there will be the critical need to vaccinate as exponentially as possible so that the next wave is not as deadly. Other people are confident that they are over the deadly. A bondhu is planning a month-long research trip to Portugal. Netherlands just started to allow flights from India. Bombay is going into phased unlock. In America, summer is here, and people are starting to gather in their screened porches over bad wine. Life is exponentially going back to a state that many sorely missed. The dying days are perhaps coming to an end, the numbers are falling and the soon the cleansing monsoon will engulf the city as the rains hopefully wash away the last

June 2, 2021 Commentary from a green place

June 2, 2021 Commentary from a green place: There are quite days. Not much happens and thus there is time to reflect. Time to consider how things were before and how things may be in the future. Isn’t that the stuff of life? Some reminiscing, some nostalgia and imagining how things could have been. All of us need to do that a bit. I spent some time talking to my son today. I should do that more often but somehow the busy ness of life comes in the way. The mundane kicks in and the important things get pushed back, or there is a redefinition of the important. Talking to one’s child is important even when they are grown up and have found their rightful place in life. Those conversations are important. A bondhu pointed out how the generational differences continue for every generation. Our parents must have found us to be doing things that was shocking as we find the generation next to us having concerns and tastes that may be baffling to us. Do you know of dark jokes? Things that would no

June 1, 2021 Commentary from a wicker chair

 June 1, 2021 Commentary from a wicker chair: It was absolutely amazing to see the excitement on the faces of the Wake O2 Angels as they excitedly shared their experience of working with a family that desperately needed O2 as the COVID-19 patient was getting released from the hospital because the family could not afford the hospital expenses and there was a need for free O2. Not just O2, but it had to be free. Such an oxymoron – never had I thought that O2 will be something we will need to pay for. Nearly 21% of the air we breathe for free is O2. All of a sudden that is not enough. And I know the feeling. For a decade I have been going to Ladakh. When the aircraft doors open at the airport in Leh, the air escapes the aircraft. Pressurized to the equivalent of 6,000 feet over sea level, the doors open to the thin air of 11,000 feet. I practically gasp. There is not enough O2 in the air. This is what COVID-19 patients face. They are unable to access the 21% and the O2 must be pumped in f