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Showing posts from June, 2021

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