Thoughts on COVID from urdu writings

In the current COVID lockdown-

Schools are closed

Colleges are closed

Restaurants are closed

Roads are closed to traffic

Factories and mills are closed

Flights and trains have shut down

However, services by our ladies are continuing 24×7 –

Day starts with preparation for breakfast

Then preparation has to be done for lunch

In between it’s time for doing the dishes and cleaning the house

At least alternate days require clothes to be laundered

Then it’s time for dinner

Children are studying from home, but they need to be supervised

And of course, every homemaker also sees to it that the daily chore of thanking the god almighty is completed without fail!

Salutation to the ladies of the house – our mothers, sisters, daughters and wives, who are doing it all and more , albeit silently.

The above translation from an Urdu writing is a refreshing change from crass and cheap Tik tok videos doing rounds on social media showing the men of the house being tortured by women for household chores! While society has changed with men more agreeable to sharing household chores; women are having it tough without doubt and above eulogy is , I must admit quite graceful!

International Workers Day and COVID

Today is 1st of May also known as May Day, International Workers Day or simply Labour’s Day. In the current COVID scenario, this day assumes special significance for while many of white collar workers are ensconced in their luxurious homes enjoying this period of lockdown in a manner, many of these so called “essential workers” have become Corona warriors. Delivery boys, Police personnel, Nurses and medical workers, plumbers, electricians, sweepers, vegetable vendors, bankers, security guards, public transport drivers are all today’s heroes who are making our lives in this lockdown period comfortable and liveable!

We may be aristocratic, globe trotting, high flying experts, senior executives, stars, tycoons or others belonging to upper crust of the society. But this Corona crisis has proven to be a great leveller. Your wads of money are of no use if these warriors are not there risking their lives and serving us, providing us with essential services necessary for our survival.

This labour day let’s pay our heartfelt tributes to these Corona warriors !

Corona virus is proving to be a great leveller,

Tycoon, executive and global traveller

Are completely arrested in-house in this lockdown,

While everyday ordinary labour is the new warrior!!!

What’s happening to Bollywood

In the peak of Rajesh Khanna era, the first superstar of Bollywood and heartthrob of millions, especially females, came a new face, a chocolate boy in real sense, Rishi Kapoor. Showman Raj Kapoor, trying to recover from near bankruptcy situation due to flop show by his magnum opus and dream project, Mera Naam Joker, decided to change track and make a quick love story, Bobby, with his second son Rishi and another newbie Dimple in the lead. And what a movie it turned out to be! Hum Tum Ik Kamre main bandh hon, Main shayar to nahin, Jhooth bole Kauwwa Kate became household anthems, Dimple a sex symbol and Rishi a youth icon. I was young but craze was to be seen to be believed. It ran and ran for weeks with people watching it multiple times and brand Bobby was there all over the merchandise – bags, tiffins, bottles etc.

While Dimple chose to call it a day tied the knot with superstar Rajesh Khanna, Rishi went on to becoming the darling of the crowds, giving hit after hit. Khel Khel Mein, Jhootha Kahin Ka, Rafoo Chakkar, Hum Kisi se Kum Nahin … it’s an endless list. Though people yearned you see the encore of Bobby’s lead pair, which was not to be till early 80s when they gave another hit Sagar, Rishi formed adorable pair with Shoma Anand, Ranjita, Kajal Kiran and host of other newcomers, but his pairing with Neetu Singh became especially very popular. Of course, the two went on to become life partners and became proud parents of today’s superstar Ranbir Kapoor, which is a different story altogether.

Rishi was versatile who didn’t depend solely on his drop dead good looks. He took challenging roles, wore his dancing shoes successfully and kept on reinventing himself in different genres. In his later years, he put on weight and his transition into doing character roles was seamless.

Rishi would have completed his half century in Bollywood in the next couple of years, having made his debut in 1973. But the destiny had something else in store for him. A virulent strain of cancer kept him in US for prolonged treatment and he seemed to have conquered his ailment bravely. However, that was not to be! After Irrfan’s sad demise yesterday , Rishi’s death today has plunged Bollywood into a pall of very deep gloom. A country saddened by COVID facing multiple tragedies makes us yearn for deletion of the year 2020 from our calendars.

He was a true torch bearer of the illustrious Kapoor family founded by Prithviraj Kapoor, taken to new heights by Raj Kapoor and then forged ahead by Rishi. Ranbir has all the making in him to carry forward this legacy, but loss of Rishi is irreplaceable especially now that he was coming out of his boyish charm and doing some very meaningful roles.

RIP chocolate boy!

RIP- Irrfan Khan

Our Bollywood is replete with actors of all hues and shades – thespians, stars, superstars, character actors et al ! But there was never and may never be in future another Irfan Khan. 53 years old actor was suffering from neuro endocrinal rumour and had announced this himself to his fans over social media. His long stay in London for treatment raised some hopes and his recent release , Angrezi Medium had kindled the yearning of his prolonged stint in Bollywood as an actor of immense substance and talent.

His repertoire of work includes Haasil, Maqbool, Paan Singh Tomar, Haider, Piku and had a National award and several Filmfare awards in his kitty. An alumnus of National School of Drama ( NSD), where he met his life partner, Sutapa Sikdar, Irfan had acted in several Hollywood movies too, some of the more prominent being The Namesake, The Warrior, Life of Pi.

He was a natural actor – always the character, never an actor or a star. With ordinary boy next door looks, unique dialogue delivery, intense eyes and expressions par excellence he didn’t belong to any method or school of acting, but was always the character he played.

Son of Rajasthan, he had very recently lost his mother and had paid her the obeisance from a distance being unable to travel. Little did one realise that he’d so soon choose to be with his mother in heaven leaving behind millions of fans and a legacy that will ensure that his name remains etched in golden letters in the annals of Hindi cinema.

Rest in peace Irrfan- as he chose to be called in his later years – he loved the extra r to be pronounced with a twirl of tongue- there’d be actors galore but probably never another Irrfan!

We can defeat corona

It’s been more than 25 days that I last went out and that too to office on the last day of the financial year that’s 31st March. It was crucial for me to be present in office on that day and I could manage. Then restrictions got tightened in my residential complex and the area in which my office was located also became a sort of hot spot and I started working from home.

Being a stickler for rule and routine, I still get up early, do my morning exercises, have an early breakfast and by 8 AM, I am on my couch starting my daily office work. In between, I take a brief tea break, a lunch break and a tea break in the evening. However, there’s a change. I feel more challenged, tired, overworked, busy and sometimes helpless in my effort to come to terms with work and work from home. Earlier, I would switch off after returning from office and get only a stray call post office hours in an extreme emergency. I used to look forward to weekends to unwind. Now, it’s 24×7- I am always responding to mails, attending to calls and grappling with work. The luxury of personal consultation with the most trusted lieutenants face to face is amiss. Now sometimes their phone is unreachable or sometimes the line is busy. By the time they revert, the emergency is over! If the system is stuck there’s no IT help at hand! In short, it’s several degrees more complex and difficult.

But I am not lamenting- on the contrary I am grateful for enough food on my plate and enough work in my tray in these difficult times of Corona virus. There are those destitute who neither have work nor food; some of them are not even on their homes! When shall maids, drivers, servants, couriers, delivery boys be able to travel and allowed entry into our homes? Or is this social distancing going to be long lasting?

It’s all very dark and uncertain. This has run through three holy periods of three major communities – Navratris, Lent and now Ramadan. Let’s channelise our power and prayers to kill Corona and once again liberate mankind from this dastardly enemy.

Corona knows no religion

Nor does it know any region

It’s an enemy of the mankind

Will only be defeated if we unite!!

Ramadan Kareem to all my readers!

COVID lessons

Once upon a time, we had some great things to look forward to:

Going on a vacation, to a fancy destination

Great weekends, to be spent with friends

Eating gourmet food, that tasted so good

Movie at multiplex with a tub of popcorns, was so relaxing and so much fun

Shopping for designers label and accessory, was never enough and always necessary

Partying on weekends till wee hours, was a birthright of ours

Going out on long drives was a thrill, there were so many ways to have fun and chill

And then came a virus that locked us down and suddenly the things we considered routine appeared so distant and desirable:

Going to school and going to office

Going for a stroll and going for shopping

Travelling by bus and travelling by car

Going here and there, quite near and so far

Eating at restaurants and drinking at bars,

We lived the life king size and were like modern day czars.

There’s a lesson for us to be learnt in this Corona lockdown. Let’s cherish each and every moment of life for when a big disruption will hit us from somewhere we can’t imagine. And suddenly we would be in a lockdown bereft if everyday’s small little things.

Corona is a great leveller

Have just come across a Pakistani channel clip doing rounds on social media in which noted Pakistani journalist Hasan Nissar is being interviewed by a TV anchor. To a question posed to Nissar that as per the Forbes magazine, in this current Coronavirus pandemic, more than 226 billionaires have lost a significant part of their wealth, the response by Nissar forms a quotable quote:

“ How does it matter whether 226 or 2260 or a few thousands of billionaires have become poorer? Nothing will happen if all these billionaires, landlords, bureaucrats, politicians, artists, anchors and all others “so called” important people are to overnight vanish into thin air? It will not make any difference and the world will evolve soon with new people fitting into the slots vacated by these important people!” However, the next part of his response is even more penetrating. He goes on to say, “ however, if barbers, cobblers, domestic helps, public transport drivers, milkmen, vendors of daily household goods and above all, farmers are to be affected, this world is going to be be under siege and incapable of surviving beyond 15 days.”

It’s a stark truth that all of us noisemakers, who are living in utmost comforts and luxuries of our homes, eating the best of food and having access to all amenities during this COVID lockdown do not matter at all! The real sufferers , who as per Nissar “ whet their appetite by hunger and thirst by frugality” , are the ones who are important and actually are “Corona warriors” .

As Nissar says, “ the wealth hoarders and scamsters earn sobriquet of Sahab, Janab, Seth, sir etc, while those doing menial yet hard jobs, who deserve our best respect, are looked down upon by us”. While Nissar’s disenchantment with this class of people is understandable, in India, we have come across the instances of generosity of several of these wealthy people- Akshay, Ratan Tata, Azim Premji , Sachin, Gavaskar, Film stars ( for entire film world fraternity), Prabhas, Mukesh Ambani- the list is quite long- who have stood by the nation and it’s people in this difficult times. But Nissar’s views clearly bring out the order of importance in the society!

At the end, I will like to mention a similar thought that I came across yesterday, where a speaker, an eminent medical practitioner with holistic approach says that the two things after which all of us run but which in reality are lifeless are- Position and possession! This Coronavirus has established the above truth conclusively that when faced with such pandemic that’s a great leveller, the things that matters least are one’s position and possession. These don’t rescue us from lockdown nor give us any additional immunity from Coronavirus. But those who are coming to our rescue are the Corona warriors – our sabzi and milk wala, BEST staff, Clean Up Mumbai staff, medical workers, police , bankers – the faceless, untitled heroes deserving our unfettered respect!