May 30, 2024

Pandemic greeting and the Indian rope trick

Article By

Sujit Chandra Kumar

What I am about to narrate happened just before the government forced the clubs to down their shutters once again and put a stop to wining and dining. So, when I parked the car and was about to enter the club, I noticed the watchman, who had strategically placed himself neither near nor afar from the main door, holding what seemed like the ubiquitous infrared thermometer. I extended my right hand involuntarily, ready to be tested and let in. Then, something unexpected happened. The watchman beamed from ear to ear, extended his own right hand and punched me gently with the back of his palm, in a pandemic variation of the high-five greeting. Pleasantly surprised but a little taken aback, I inquired if he wasn’t going to check my temperature. He, in turn, pointed out that what he had in his left hand was his mobile charger.

But there are other places where the situation is entirely hostile and so unwelcoming that you want to return without accomplishing your original intention. At a dentist’s, for instance, they have tied a rope at the entrance to restrict entry, allowing only fewer than half a dozen at a time inside the clinic, which means that the severe toothache is now coupled with the searing, windless humidity that prevails outside the clinic. The practice of rope-tying has become the norm even in government offices. Yet another trend that is catching up is to issue tokens, running even up to four digits, that puts you off so swiftly that you promise to return the next afternoon or not at all.

The numbers are alarmingly rising despite all this caution. And the reason? These measures are done so that you don’t cause trouble to the people concerned and not entirely to drive away the virus. Once inside the club, which I had referred to earlier on, masks are neatly folded and kept within the trouser packets and chairs are placed within hissing distance of each other. The host of the evening insists on giving me a hug, despite my gentle protests, making me suspect that the club either has a very positive attitude, which cuts across all levels from the watchman to the very top, or wants to ensure that I go back home that night with a Covid-19 positive status. The clubs are now temporarily closed but I am told some of them have hush-hush meetings even in this phase and it won’t be long before it becomes business as usual.

Almost every voter In Kerala is enraged that the politicians conducted themselves without a care in the world during the campaign phase and contributed immensely to the surge in the daily count of cases. Now the same leaders are pontificating on the need to maintain Covid protocols. Couldn’t the polls have been put off, they ask, before the vaccination process got completed? Dance of democracy was not above the dance of death itself?

Perhaps the politicians should learn a lesson or two from the tipplers of the land, who stood in queue patiently before the beverage counters, faithfully masked up, maintaining physical distance, only occasionally allowing themselves a joke or two, and returning satisfied with hands-full of bottled poetry that is supposed to last them for at least a week. And help them keep their sanity in tact.

Pic Courtesy: google/ images are subject to copyright


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