Beautiful, Holy and Sorrowful

From one of my favourite writers to her father



I came to my parents’ house on Wednesday -that was the day my self imposed “quarantine” ended.  Daddy had been having one bad day after another, and I knew Mama was in need of support.  I just wanted to be as safe as I could, so I wanted to observe my self imposed quarantine, before going to my parents’ home.  I do not think I came a minute too soon. 

Daddy has mostly been in bed since I arrived.  To say he is doing poorly, is an understatement.  I am so thankful, he is peaceful and rarely shows any sign of distress.  When he does wake, we are with him.  we can hardly understand anything he says recently . . .but the first day, he told me a story.  It was new to me, but Mama confirmed it.

I was telling daddy about Tres, who we all think is so…

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Glasshouse talk

I debate sometimes about telling stories I hear from other people’s lives- people I know now- are those mine to tell ? Is it ok to tell them ? But some of those stories have a life lesson to them and in my opinion need to be shared for their value. Here is one such happening- calling it a tale would make it sound like it was made up but this happened and just yesterday at that.

The Moroccan friend of mine who shared her Thanksgiving meal in November( seems so long back but just five months ago), sent me a message that the first day of their fast ended up not on a good note. A time for celebration culminated in an incident where two people ended up hurt and badly.

Her uncle, who lives in the state capital, had his house burgled last night. He lost all his savings and precious stuff stored in a safe inside the house. The masked burglars entered the house through the basement, made their way up to the first floor bedroom, encountered the Uncle and her cousin, stabbed each of them with knives, in fact, butchered would be the better word and left them bleeding. They were rushed to hospital, the neighborhood had ten police cars there looking into the matter and the men are now making as quick a recovery as they can.

Unemployment and starvation are real- they exist- a few people sitting in closed rooms with the luxury of “working from home” might find the lockdown an easy adjustment( though they have to do childcare themselves or find living with their families in short quarters a tiresome task). In fact, as many leaders including Prez Trump talk and want to open up their states, one can understand where their thinking points come from. Starvation and over crowding and abuse and possibly violence, including gun violence, theft, fights and everything that is not so nice, is more likely to kill more people than the COVID virus itself. The media criticize leaders who talk of opening up shops and businesses as soon as possible, saying it is too early to talk of an opening up and we are only making our way for a second wave of the COVID epidemic.

People who live and work in “glasshouses” can afford to preach, for except for a select few, they might not be affected by the virus or the economic shortfalls of lockdowns. But what price the mental health issues that accrue ? The children who have no go but to play on their tablets, the men and women who itch to be out but cannot ?

I would say the Swedish government despite the risk they took by keeping their economy open through the epidemic, achieved a healthy level of herd immunity- there were casualties of course but time has shown that perhaps this drastic, different method worked better than the method of pushing the high point of the epidemic further and to a later date. Its probably better to face the music now than later, in this case.

R is overrrr…

After struggling an entire term with an R software and codes that would never run, the last class of this very eventful course(not) was over on Wednesday(22nd of April)- rest in peace, course in surveillance- you will not be missed.

The issues I had with this course were:

  1. The course was based on a knowledge of R
  2. Every course assignment was provided with R codes and all we had to do was run it on the software- the issue was almost always the codes would not work- I spent four to five days on a single question some days- a waste of totally good days.
  3. Course instructor and Teaching Fellow ( my opinion) were learning on the course- while the course was going on and were a little better than us students at it.

In keeping with the course and lack of help and coordination between the professor and the teaching fellow, the answers to the Assignment 4 were provided by the professor himself, after the whole class complained about the non-compliant R codes. So he modified the last assignment into an oral presentation of the answers he provided- resulting in every group providing almost the same answers. The course thus ended on a funny note and there will probably be one happy course director- an equitable distribution of grades.

One of the things insisted on by the University is equity and social justice and the last assignment proved to be just that. We live in an equitable time period, an era of the COVID, which is a highly equitable virus- it affects everyone- though the press often seems to portray that it affects the minority populations more than others, as a public health person, I believe that is not entirely true. The virus seems to know no boundaries or favor any ethnicity and thus has succeeded in uniting the whole world into one mass of suffering. And thus ended my tryst with R.

Last week of classes

I am writing these short blog posts, so when I forget details about this wonderful year, full of surprises, I can come back here and refresh my memory.

Per the original schedule this is the last week of classes. It is a mad rush to complete homework and tests and more homework.

The time zone management issues keep me awake most of the day- and night. I will be glad when this is over.

In the middle of all this, we had Good Friday, and Easter and the birth of a new baby. It was great that everything went well in an almost desolate hospital where there was no patient other than my sister whose scheduled surgery was for the 13th of April and all went well. We have a new nephew- he is 50 years younger than me- I am old enough to be his grandmother.

There are students who face financial distress amongst this chaos- they sent a signed petition to the powers that be to grant them some respite for jobs lost, internships gone away, food and housing money having to be paid twice or many times over. As in previous days, I am surprised and appalled at how the university tries to keep things going as though nothing is wrong- appreciating those who publish papers in this time, making comments on the epidemic and how it would be expected to go in the near future- its always easier to predict the future with one’s fingers burnt, maybe.

And the vitriol that comes from the media is something else- I just wish there was more positivity all around.

We are in unfortunate times – my husband’s trip back home is delayed indefinitely as we know not when flights will resume. We are truly locked in in a land where all land borders were sealed from before – now the air route is locked too- the only way out as I tell my husband is to dig a tunnel until we reach the Indian ocean on the Oman coast and see if a kind fisherman will be willing to take us home to the West Coast of India( just joking of course). Food is in good supply, there is no need to stock.

We have had husband’s colleagues testing positive for the virus- with mild symptoms- and everyone awaits the call from the local CDC to see if they need to be tested or quarantined.

People are petrified of the virus – rather than its symptoms or the illness it brings with it. I talked to a colleague of my husband’s who tested positive yesterday- she said she had no symptoms but the wait to go to hospital and the fear of the virus was killing her.

Amid all this we took up the book of Ecclesiastics – and found that King Solomon, in all his glory was going through things we are going through now – and all to him as for us – is “meaningless”- we cannot find out why this happened or what will happen- there is nothing stable in the world and everything other than God is temporary- what a lesson in humility and giving up control.

Feeble attempts at normalcy

The world is in actual and virtual turmoil. Still a lot of us are trying to maintain normalcy and go on with life as though nothing as change- perhaps for some of us, nothing has changed but it seems each day more and more people are having their lives disrupted due to the virus.

Our courses go on as usual- with no mention of the virus going on around. The major health threats class goes on as per syllabus, into a module on obesity- we had a class yesterday, where during the session, many students protested that the teacher needed to read comments and answer them during the lecture, rather than proceeding at her own pace, oblivious to the chaos around her. Questions were asked on stigma and obesity and socio-behavioral determinants of obesity to no avail. Many asked why the course was going on as usual when it could have shifted gears into a current major health threat- the COVID. It seems ironic that countries like India, and even parts of the US may actually face food deficits and starvation- even counter the obesity threat. People suffering from COVID actually lose weight.

Shops are open as usual to sell food though the initial stock piling of food seems over and the shelves are full of long lasting food- we shop but shop with not so much of a gay abandon and are considerate of moving up and down aisles that have people deliberating over their purchases. It seems those who have kitchen gardens are coming out quite well in terms of food. We deliberate on whether we actually need something rather than buy or procure it.

Families that are forced to stay together during lockdowns are, contrary to all predictions, actually loving the times they have with their children, most of whom they actually met with only on weekends. Husband and wives are reconciled in meal preparations and child care.

The use of lipstick and make up might be on a decline except when one is on Zoom calls for classes or meetings online- because otherwise we are masked.

People are actually listening into religious discourse- and talks- seems like everyone wants to catch up with their lost time with their creator.

The only thing that does not seem to change is the animal market in China from which this virus purportedly originated. For there, it is business as usual.