August 20, 21 and 22, 2021: In preparation

August 20, 21 and 22, 2021: In preparation. There is a sense of anticipation and a nervousness about the future. Masked and ready. In a neighboring University there are already clusters of students being identified with the disease. Mild and thus are being set apart from the others. A frantic email from a student in the class starting on Monday about concessions for Covid. “I do not want to expose others” the email says. The college spectrum is wide. In the session on Friday the youngsters came enthusiastic. All masked, all eager. Some others seem nervous, doubtful. Talking for 30 minutes through a mask, projecting my voice through the cloth, I realized that this will be tricky. I use the disposable surgical masks. Usually worn by medical professionals who do not have to lecture for 90 minutes. These were designed for silence. The OT is not usually a place for lectures. Now the mask has a different application. There is confusion as well. The city has mandated something, and we may hav

August 17, 18, 19 of 2021: And thus the story changes

August 17, 18, 19 of 2021: And thus the story changes. It has been raining a lot. Interrupts the flow of life which has taken on a continuous characteristic where the incredible variety of tasks seem to collapse on the limited time that physics, conniving with biology, allows me. All of a sudden, the narrative of normality has become real. This is not a drill. Real people in real places are doing real things now in the real world. I am dragged out of the virtualized that I inhabited for some time. The lines near the night clubs of Sector 5 are real as a newfound freedom has settled into the city where the limits of freedom have been extended two hours into the night. The limits of freedom are being tested in every space I am connected with. New living space, new mate in the room, roaming the hallways, looking for the laundry, access to a wheelchair, the need for feeding tubes, the restlessness of the uncertainty that awaits us. These things happen in my spaces. Everyone is wanting to b

August 16, 2021: Zoning through meetings

August 16, 2021: Zoning through meetings. Yes, you read it right, not zooming through meetings, but the possibilities that some of us have embraced came alive today. It turned out to be a very long day because the sun always shines where I can be. I seem to have taken on the hybrid, as the World rushes back to the old ways. There is something missing at a meeting that starts at 8 am in the morning. One expects some sugary treats to wash down with the coffee. And there was nothing missing. The treats and the coffee lubricate these meetings. In most cases, the meetings I have to attend turn out to be satisfying for me. Things seem to get done, good people with good intentions usually get things done, after meetings. Today, I was sitting so close to a colleague on one side and my wife on the other side that I had to hide my computer screen from sight to camouflage where I really was. New experience, we always brought portable computers to the meetings. But for nearly 2 years, the laptop i

August 14 and 15, 2021: Memories of mountains and moonshine

August 14 and 15, 2021: Memories of mountains and moonshine. The mist comes down in a strange way as soon as you make that curve next to the nursery. I have noticed this every time I drive on the mountain road that connects the towns of Boone and Blowing Rock. In the Appalachian. Yes, that is a real place and for one full day I was in the real, in the place, in the mountains. It was Saturday, so had to do a quick greeting with the band of bondhus from school, as I excused myself to a sit-down lunch at the familiar restaurant at corner of King and Right. A kind of calm brought on by reassuring signs at the shops stating that all the staff are vaccinated. So we are safe in these mountains, where the air is fragrant with the display of flowers along main street the aroma of meat grilling on the fire – the quintessential burger – the one that works really well with the crispy onion rings and the home cut fried potatoes. That sense of safety is assured by the promise of vaccination and the

August 13, 2021: I posted on Facebook

August 13, 2021: I posted on Facebook. After a long time. You should look at it, it is a lament of a way of life that we are about to lose. I wrote about this life as a theoretical possibility in book chapters in the late 1990s. An idealized cybernetic life. I dreamed about this then, and even earlier. Sitting in a basement with computer consoles. Like in the science fiction movies of the old days. Everything on the screen. Life distilled to the digital. Students on the screen. Bondhus on the screen. WhatsApp as community. Everything a keystroke away. And it became real in March of 2020. I was confined to the hole. First, it was disturbing. But then I saw the screen. And all was good. Multiple screens, multiple places on the screens, multiple people. Tethered to the screen as the music played and I worked. Finished my book. Attended numerous meetings. Conversed on WA with my bondhus. Everyone was always and already there. Now it is about to change. The strains of work in the “real” lif

August 10 to 12, 2021: This is nothing

August 10 to 12, 2021: This is nothing. I am cheating on my writing by collapsing three days into one narrative. But then sometimes the days blend into each other through a cycle of slumber and work that the distinction disappears. From collaborators looking to write papers on the state of social science research in the midst of remote opportunities, to film makers trying to raise money for a worthy project, to preparing for the new arrivals who my wife and I will chaperone for the next year, to the conversations helping a bondhu prepare for vital work, the days just blended into each other. Nothing is defined by time or place. Spent a couple of hours sitting on the stairway connected to people. It just felt nice sitting there and having an important conversation. This all started when a research colleague came up with the idea of including me in a Webinar. Way in the distant past of March 2020. Evidently people liked what I did. And yes, I will say it, “thanks to the pandemic,” I had

August 9, 2021: Its like living in Jurassic Park

August 9, 2021: Its like living in Jurassic Park. There was a famous line in the second movie about the fictional theme park with dinosaurs. The first movie did not bode well for the park, but the people did not learn from the experience, and they went ahead and built a second park where there was a false sense of security and much anticipation. There was a famous line in one of the movies, “Ooh, ah,’ that’s how it always starts. But then later there’s running and screaming.” Because nature, when threatened always finds a way. That was early April in Calcutta. The “ooh” and “aahs” things were good, all OK, then came the middle of April, and early May, and there was the screaming and the deaths. Nature found a way, and our euphoria led to the running and screaming. And today, in the middle of August, we are seeing a lot of the “oohs” as we fearlessly, in Florida, send our children to school without protection. The oohs and aahs. Hopefully the running and screaming will not follow. Would