July 14, 2021: I could smell the flowers today

July 14, 2021: I could smell the flowers today. The warm humid air blew through the bedroom. Somewhere nearby there must have been a bloom of rajanigandha (Tuberose: Polianthes tuberosa L .) and the gentle aroma wafted through the room, as an approaching storm brought promises of a rain in the night. The test people who the Angels had set up came on time. The results came in record time. All good. The challenge has now centered on vaccines. There is a supply issue. Our team has been trying to procure vaccines, but it is increasingly difficult. It appears, from our limited experience, that there is a real paucity of supply. There is a good amount of red tape as well. A bondhu explained the thing to me and how one has to knock on many doors to get access. All I am looking for is to do one camp at the place where we have become embedded to support the people of that community. Everything can be done, the space to do the camp is available, there are people who could administer the vaccine,

July 13, 2021: I have friends who make my life better

July 13, 2021: I have friends who make my life better. How many can stand on the rooftop and shout out, “I have friends that make my life better?” I am talking about bondhus, not only spouse, not only family, but people who make a difference in your life because you have learned to look past the momentary imperfections and focus on the value they bring to your life. COVID-19 taught us the importance of this. Even when stuck in a basement I knew that I would have friends visit me in the basement. COVID-19 also reminded us that true friendship is not held hostage by proximity. Touch. When you can, you should touch. Their lives. Shephard’s Pie. I remember the day when a bondhu looked at the pie, grabbed a good portion and said, “I can actually taste this.” Seven days into the infection. I looked at my hands and said, “Really, we made that good a pie?” Covid to the rescue. The person eating the pie, in the midst of COVID-19, is perhaps not the best person to judge the quality of cooking. A

July 12, 2021: I took a wrong turn today

July 12, 2021: I took a wrong turn today. As in any large city there is a complex set of roads and flyovers that crisscross the city, and one needs to know which one to take to get to specific places. It is like going to Malibu from Culver City an knowing the exact exit to take to get to downtown when coming off the Salem Parkway. I took a wrong turn today and ended up in my old haunts when I was a kid growing up in the Dum Dum Park and Bangur neighborhoods. Old spaces, old bondhus, old mischiefs. The mischiefs make up our lives and memories. Things we did then, things we do now. Hiding from others, surreptitious activities, getting discovered and then the laughs over our innocence. This is what makes memories that can be shared in the future. My bondhu came over in the afternoon and we went for what could only be called a “joy ride” just driving around and talking of the futures that are before us. Futures are being made now as we gear up for vaccinations. The Wake Angels, the NGO I a

July 11, 2021: Need to find vaccines

July 11, 2021: Need to find vaccines. The need has changed. The experience of the peak of the second wave has now been replaced by a new need – vaccines. Had a productive conversation with the leader of a small NGO and we realized our barrier now is procuring the vaccines. Devdas has already been working with his Youth Club and they are ready to set up the vaccine camp as soon as we are ready. The Wake Angels are working the phones to see where to get the vaccines from. We need to connect with a health care provider – a hospital or nursing home – to get the vaccines. Then comes the organization of the actual camp and find the people who will administer the vaccine. Devdas is also suggesting a careful registration system so that there is accountability for the vaccine distribution and the maintenance of the records of who gets what. I am really impressed by this person’s management capability. He called me late in the afternoon and reminded me of the celebration of “rath” on July 12 – o

July 10, 2021: Some things are the same everywhere

July 10, 2021: Some things are the same everywhere. Today I had set myself a specific task to get the Internet working at Mahavir Vikas. In my time, I have ordered cable and Internet installations in Winston Salem and Calcutta. The story is remarkably similar. The “cable guy,” immortalized by Jim Carey in the movie of the same name, keeps you waiting. This is a task where time and space must line up. The wires must enter the home and wiring must be done right inside the home. This is not a matter of throwing a switch somewhere and something happens in the other side of the World. That too exists. I recently heard of an interesting thing that had happened. Some weeks ago, right before going to bed, my phone had just popped a set of warnings that my entire system of monitor and control of a space, nearly 10,000 miles away, had just shut down. Such a catastrophic failure of all systems could mean only a complete loss of electricity. I called my family immediately, and they said, they had

July 9, 2021: The familiar sounds are back

July 9, 2021: The familiar sounds are back. Even though there is supposed to be a lockdown the sounds of the night are back as I sit on the verandah. It is a warm night, still and humid with a few mosquitoes wanting to feast on my blood. Blood. I remember blood and plasma. The horrifying days not too long ago when blood was needed, and the calls had to be attended to. Today we have thankfully moved away from that. For now. It is the call for vaccines. Conferred with a person who too is trying to get a vaccination camp going. Joining forces. The Wake Angels are also a part of this effort as is Devdas. Much can be done when people come together, and COVID-19 has perhaps been a reminder of that. We are not atomized individuals that are fighting our solitary battles. We can find support. We just need to have the predisposition to seek the support and accept it humbly. I was talking to a bondhu and realizing how frequently well-meaning support is cast aside until things become dire. That is

July 8, 2021: Summer nights are magical

July 8, 2021: Summer nights are magical. The rains have let up a bit. The cats seem to like the chairs in the verandah, and they settle down in a way that only cats can. A sense of complete relaxation. I feel bad bothering them, but I got to sit down too. The black cat is fearless. Looks at me and seems to tell me that I am interloper. This property belongs to the cat. We talk. In the frenetic World we have been placed in, the black cat simultaneously offers a point of peaceful reference and a cause of annoyance. The cats are everywhere. Today at Mahavir Vikas, I was airing out the house after it being locked in for more than a month. Was munching on dalmut (a Bengali delicacy that is crunchy, spicy and you can never stop) and a kitten appeared from nowhere in the drawing room. I think the kitten was as shocked as I was. Cats are a part of life at AC 140 – there are nearly a dozen – I do not know how they are related to the black cat, but they are very comfortable at AC. But a kitten i