Shutdown Effect.

Since the shutdown due to the current Corona pandemic, traffic in my WhatsApp has increased so much that I have to recharge my cellphone twice a day. Most of the content is not worth writing about but two clips today made things very interesting indeed.

The first one that I received in the morning from my friend Anil, was this one of a deer having fun on a beach in Goa.
The deer has obviously come down from the woods adjoining the beach in some part of Goa.

Here is another forward received from another friend from Mumbai of Peacocks and peahens appearing suddenly in out most crowded city, Mumbai.

What an impact the shutdown has had in our wildlife!

The next one came from another friend in Mumbai that is very interesting indeed. Some remarkable skullduggery in the form of optical illusion helping our friends from the Marketing field.

RAIN.

A dear friend sent this link to me which I found to be interesting and topical enough to share with my readers. Dr. Sandeep Kelkar is a practicing paediatrician in Thane. a town very near Mumbai. He has had considerable experience handling parents and this approach obviously is something that he has developed to destress his patients’ parents. This is as applicable to us as to parents of children.

A Common Enemy.

No, I will not talk about the latest common enemy.  For me, the common enemy has been for many decades, the idea of “the other”.  Mind you, I am talking about the idea and not “the other”.

“The other” has been the bane of human beings from time immemorial and there does not seem to be any end to it, not at least in my life time.

Let us take the most common today.  Islamophobia.  A conference of some Heads of Islamic States was recently held to address this issue. This is a global phenomenon and locally in India, I have recently been reading some very explosive material on the alienation that the Muslims in India feel. The first one is this book from a young mother and the other is from two very knowledgeable and erudite Muslims of India.

All the three links given above will give my readers some idea about the problems faced by the Islamic world in general and the Muslims of India. I am particularly concerned about the latter as it can have serious repercussions in the next few years with Right Wing nationalism growing in India, Pakistan imploding and Bangladesh in an economic crisis. If the problems faced by the two countries result in a refugee problem in India, there will be a major upheaval which I would rather that did not take place.

Let us talk about some other kind of “Others”. Here is an instance of old people becoming the other. I would very much like to meet this worthy when and if he ever gets to be as old as the people that he suggests die for the cause.

Need I say anything about the biggest “Other”, gender?

Every community has its share of “The Others”, thanks to inadequate education of the different types of people, religions, languages, colour, appearance etc and prejudices and fear drive bigotry and hate crimes besides discrimination.

The latest in the line of many “The Others” is China, thanks to the Coronavirus. It is extrememly difficult to determine how much of it is fact and how much just fake news but, the damage is being done.

If we delve deep into our prejudices, we will find enough and more “others” to keep us discussing them till kingdom come. I have just listed a few here to give a pointer to the IDEA of “The Other” as being our number one Common Enemy.

This is my take on this week’s Friday 5 On 1 blog post topic. The other four bloggers who write on the same topic every Friday are Sanjana, Padmum and Shackman and Conrad.   Conrad incidentally, is the original founder of the weekly bloggers group formed way back in 2009. This week’s topic was suggested by Conrad. Please do go over to their respective blogs to see what they have to say on the topic. Thank you.

Pune Yesterday.

This is a drone camera clip of Pune yesterday when we went into voluntary total curfew following an appeal from our Prime Minister.

From today till the 31st of March, the curfew like situation will no longer be voluntary. We have to stay indoors except for emergencies.

There is no traffic and therefore one can now hear the sound of insects and cicadas that we had stopped hearing for decades. The air is cleaner and last night, we could see the stars for a change. we can hear the birds sing and our garden is suddenly full of butterflies.

I am catching up with a lot of reading after my regular dose of solving crossword puzzles. Thankfully, the news papers have not been stopped from publishing and delivering papers to homes.

I have a feeling, shared by many of my friends that after this drama’s curtains come down, may be even after a few months, our lives will be of a different nature than they have been over the past few decades.

Panic.

My family and circle of friends is full of people who have had to get their knees replaced.  So, when suddenly I started to get a severe pain on the inside of the right knee, I panicked and went ballistic trying to find a diagnosis online.  I finally went over to my GP who examined me and asked me, if I had run into anything recently and I suddenly remembered that I had indeed run into the corner of my bed a few days ago.  He diagnosed the pain as arising out of a blood clot due to that after pointing out a dark bruise on the skin.  He prescribed some pills and an ointment and no sooner I had taken the first pill and applied the ointment, I immediately felt relief.

There’s nothing quite like the behaviour of panicky humans,  My imagining all kinds of dire consequences like going back to a hospital for surgery, the expenses involved etc were totally irrational and also totally unlike my normal behaviour to adversity.

Let me share another story.

Every Sunday morning without fail around 10.30 am a surrogate son to me calls me from Mumbai  to ensure that I am alive and have not changed my will where he expects to find himself in a prominent position. He has been doing this for the past twenty years and so when he did not call me at the usual time last Sunday and after waiting for a couple of hours to give him some time to finish whatever he was doing, I called him at 12.30 pm just as he was entering his home. I asked him if dementia has set in already for him and he simply passed on the phone to his wife to explain to me as to why he did not call me in the morning. It turned out that she  had hustled him our of his bed at an ungodly hour for a Sunday and got him to escort her to a supermarket close by to buy and stock up on groceries for the anticipated shutting down of Mumbai due to the pandemic.

My daughter in love and son however appear to be totally unconcerned as I am too and when this topic was suggested by Sanjana for this week’s 5 on 1 Friday post, I was reminded of this:

On enquiry, I found that without much noise provisions had already been stocked up for emergencies and the only thing about which they were worried was milk without which I don’t have my tea or coffee and which is needed regularly to set yogurt without which I cannot exist. I responded that if shove came to push, I shall indeed be prepared to sacrifice my dietary preferences in the larger interest of the public and that they should not panic.

Here is a video that shows clearly to what extent one can go to hoard things during an emergency like the current one.

What however has puzzled me and many others too is the mad rush to stock up on toilet paper.

I am not one to panic easily. Not that I have become like that, it is just that I am just made that way. It is not deliberate but, just natural for me to face adversities calmly and take such action as necessary within my capability.  The knee incident however exposed me to the reality that I too can panic under some conditions.

There have been a number of occasions in my life when I had to face unexpected adverse situations where I was able to face them and come out relatively unscathed compared to others under similar circumstances. Other friends had panicked under similar circumstances and one even committed suicide. I guess that it is all the negative messages that we are bombarded with by the media and now through the social media that such panic reactions take place as people are unable to foresee a future as comfortable as the present that they are so comfortable with.

We are currently in the midst of the Coronavirus panic and I am sure that after a few weeks and in retrospect we will look back and wonder what the panic was all about. I hope to write a follow up post on that.

And to sign off, here is snoopy being topical again.
This is my take on this week’s Friday 5 On 1 blog post topic. The other four bloggers who write on the same topic every Friday are Sanjana, Padmum and Shackman and Conrad.   Conrad incidentally, is the original founder of the weekly bloggers group formed way back in 2009.  It gives me great pleasure to welcome him back to this venture, thanks to some persistent nagging by Shackman.  This week’s topic was suggested by Sanjana. Please do go over to their respective blogs to see what they have to say on the topic. Thank you.

The Wagging Tail.

I reproduce below an article that appeared in one of our local newspapers recently. I reproduce it as I found it illuminating and indeed, fascinating coming from a neurosurgeon.

“The early morning winter mist only enhances the mystical ambience that envelops the atmosphere on my morning walk up the hill. Silhouettes of trees and the visible landscape are bathed in the serene silver hue of the setting moon. The trees are in slumber, as are their avian dwellers. Or so it seems. The isolated chirping of an early riser is audible in the hushed silence. The winding mountain path is barely visible, just enough to ensure that my feet don’t transgress the lateral boundaries. The only other sound palpable is that of my own breathing, which gets a shade heavier as I climb further up the hill.

The mind is almost thoughtless, till suddenly, an arbitrary thought breaches its stillness. Like a pebble thrown into the calm waters of a serene lake. Turbulence. Followed by a cascade of reactions, emotions, opinions, anxieties, and apprehensions. It’s amazing, how a mere thought can completely alter the interior and unleash a flurry of neurotransmitters that wreak havoc in the mind. Simultaneously, there follows a rush of corresponding hormones that prepare the body for possible combat with an unseen, virtual enemy.

The flight, fight or fright response is triggered by a random thought.

The skies get a bit brighter with the rising sun that surfaces from the horizon. I reach a plateau. My breathing eases a bit and the cone of visibility widens. Then, I spot her at a distance — the majestic Labrador, trotting obediently just ahead of its master. An unmistakeable feature of this gorgeous canine is her continuously wagging tail, a testimony to a perennial state of causeless happiness. She wags her tail ceaselessly. Happiness, beyond the cause-effect paradigm, oozed from her every pore.

I wonder what might be going on in her mind. Her dark brown eyes look blissful, with no trace of any anxiety, fear or chaos. This must be causeless happiness; perhaps even happiness that precedes any cause. My happiness had to be necessarily subservient to a tangible cause. And worse, I permitted my mind to ravage my happiness with irrational, arbitrary, virtual apprehensions.

My encounter with the happy Labrador suggested that being happy is a matter of choice. Being happy could be the cause and not the effect. Could the effect precede the cause? This paradoxical phenomenon is termed ‘retrocausality’. It was long considered that an effect preceding its cause, is an inherent self-contradiction, because, as 18th-century philosopher David Hume discussed, when examining two related events, the cause, by definition, is the one that precedes the effect.

The only distinction between cause and effect is temporal… If i decide to start wagging the tail of my mind, I know my mind will find a reason either in the past, or perhaps in the future. My ego cannot accept happiness without a cause.

So, i start wagging the tail of my mind vigorously, and — lo and behold!

I discover those dainty yellow flowers that are swaying gently; I feel the cool breeze caressing my face. I become an inseparable part of Nature and resonate with it. Happiness thereafter doesn’t remain a response. It percolates the here and now. Happiness loses all conditionality. It transcends to a state of unconditional bliss. A state where cause and effect merge into a moment that lasts forever. Eternal Bliss. Ananda.”

Deepak Ranade is a neurosurgeon in Pune.