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 4th 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 bondhus, at times I wish where the things could be upended and turned on its heads. As a bondhu recently remarked, “would I die if I ate the food from the street vendors?” the question can be turned around with street vendors of food anywhere in the World. That is not comfortable food, there is a risk there. Risky things do not engender contentment. This is what COVID-19 has rudely reminded. Was there a risk that the “common person” would die of a terrorist attack? Indeed there was a risk, but one could be content in knowing that there are comfortable places where the risk was lower. What are the chances someone would want to blow up the old Wachovia Bank building downtown, but there are many edifices around Writer’s Building that could be targets? Terrorism, as we learnt it, has a way of distributing risk. Why blow up an inconsequential old bank building in an inconsequential city when there are far more attractive targets. There was comfort in knowing that circumstances helped to manage the risk. Now, we are in a different risk scenario. The folks upstairs took no risks. Did everything that was right. Made the right choices in the face of risk. But even that was not enough. I ran around all over the cities. Chose to take risks that even one of my bondhus put well when he turned down an invitation to visit with me, saying, “that boy needs to catch a flight not COVID-19.” Catch me if you can. Comfort, contentment, and risk. It is a balancing act constantly, and the balance is contextual. A walk by the duck pond versus a hair salon where no one is masked. How do we draw that balance? Is this a personal choice or would circumstances change what choice would be made, and we would have to comply. Will you shun me if I choose to be a little cautious or will you stay away from me if my choice is to thrown caution to the wind. In less than fifteen days my state will make that choice. Cohen’s words about choices reverberate.


Polly Black said…
This idea about being "comfortably" insulated from risk in the normal way and how a pandemic does not respect those boundaries...worth digging deeper on that one. What is it about the human need for that? And what is it about how we react when that is violated (Covid 19; 9/11; Israeli-Palestinian bombings)? I think there is something really interesting in that. And also in the question of how communication changes when that violation occurs - becomes more visceral, confused, misunderstood. Reaction times are reduced. People leap to conclusions.And some jump in and try to restore equilibrium - and sometimes they too are misunderstood, their efforts misinterpreted, even rejected - and sometimes violently in the confusion of the disequilibrium.
Ananda Mitra said…
Polly, many thanks for your insight

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