Registered with the Registrar of Newspapers for India under R.N.I 53640/91
Vol. XXX No. 23, April 1-15, 2021
Aren’t we still in a pandemic? The Woman from Madras Musings can’t help but wonder at the flagrant flouting of covid norms everywhere she goes. Mask wearing has disappeared as has social distancing, but the charming habit of spitting on the streets is back. So, it came as no big surprise to learn that the virus has planted its unwelcome flag on (Wo)MMM’s territory – a family in the pater’s apartment complex tested positive for covid-19.
(Wo)MMM recalled an earlier brush with the virus, when the in-laws fell sick – a corporation official had checked in on the family almost every day during the quarantine period, which had been quite a relief at that time. Assuming that the authorities would show up to help this time too,
(Wo)MMM waited for a couple of days. No one came. A brief chat with the uncle who had been coordinating with the authorities revealed that he was having a hard time getting them to commit to a visit – he was initially informed that the team was too busy to come by, and it was only after multiple follow-ups that they had reluctantly admitted that they perhaps had a duty to perform in this case, and would get the concerned official to drop in. Unfortunately, the official didn’t seem to be that concerned after all – many promises were made day after day that the visit would take place within the hour, to no avail. Uncle was ready to give up when (Wo)MMM decided to have a go at the matter.
(Wo)MMM made a call to the official, explaining the importance of swift action since the apartment housed senior citizens. She was promised that someone would come by in the evening; not willing to let the matter drop, she placed a second call in the afternoon to confirm. (Wo)MMM was put onto another official who told her that his colleague was entirely misinformed and that this team would not be able to help her out in this matter. She was given another number to get in touch with and the call promptly ended.
After multiple tries, the second phone number directed (Wo)MMM to a covid control center. On hearing the issue, the control center informed her that they were the control center and not the sanitization team, and gave her the number of a health official. The control center gentleman had some advice as well, presumably from experience – please don’t ask the health official too many questions, simply make a polite request for the sanitization, he pleaded. (Wo)MMM thanked him, duly made a note and rolled up her sleeves for the next round.
In a pleasant surprise, the third phone number put her in touch with a health official on the very first try. She heard (Wo)MMM’s story patiently for a full five minutes. After a pause, she asked which zone the apartment came under. (Wo)MMM’s heart sank. This is seldom a good question to hear when trying to get help from the authorities. True enough, the health official declared quite cheerfully that this particular zone wasn’t under her team’s purview and asked (Wo)MMM to get in touch with the right health official. This, of course, led (Wo)MMM to yet another number to call.
The fourth phone number was absolutely unreachable. (Wo)MMM wouldn’t have called even the better half so many times during their courtship days. She tried the number all day and well into early evening, but nobody picked up. But (Wo)MMM was damned if she would give up now – she set an alarm for 9am the next day and continued her quest. On the 17th call or so, a clearly annoyed health officer picked up the call, demanding to know who (Wo)MMM was and what she wanted. (Wo)MMM had perfected the response by now and told her the whole story. The health official responded that unfortunately, she was the health official, not the sanitization inspector. (Wo)MMM didn’t fall for the trick this time though – she knew that any response would only lead to another phone number to call, not constructive action. (Wo)MMM remained silent while the health official hopefully waited for her to take the bait. After a while, it was clear that (Wo)MMM was the winner in this stand-off; the health official sighed and asked her for the address so she would direct the sanitization inspector to pay the apartment a visit. And then, much like a genie from the Arabian Nights, the health official disappeared, never to be seen again. (Wo)MMM made a second phone call to the control center, who gave her the phone number of the sanitization inspector.
Phone number five led (Wo)MMM to the elusive sanitization inspector, who picked up the phone after a few tries. In Pavlovian reflex, (Wo)MMM automatically launched into her tale, when the sanitization inspector interrupted her to let her know that he had already paid the apartment a visit and arranged for sanitization. However, he quickly added that the rigorous sanitization efforts that were undertaken a few months earlier had now been phased out – the unspoken words hinted that (Wo)MMM ought to be glad that it was done even the one time. (Wo)MMM was left rather surprised that the authorities seemed to have relaxed vigilance over the pandemic given that cases are on a rise in the city.
With the authorities displaying lukewarm enthusiasm, (Wo)MMM is now getting in touch with a private sanitization company to help – however, you can’t help but wonder how folks who cannot afford such services will fare.
The Woman from Madras Musings recently came across a campaign march. A sea of flags fluttered in the wind, held proudly aloft by party cadre as they marched to the tune of the party’s campaign song. The leader was seated in a car, smiling and waving at the public as he passed them by. He wasn’t wearing a mask, presumably because it would have cramped his smile. On reflection, (Wo)MMM felt that perhaps this could be condoned, given that he was sufficiently distanced from the rest of the marching troupe, isolated as he was in his car; but she did wonder as to why he didn’t choose to follow protocols and lead by example.
The marchers were another story. Only some wore masks and, with no room for social distancing in an on-road campaign, they marched shoulder to shoulder. Some sang along to the music in a manner that would have made any primary class music teacher proud – they didn’t shy away from opening their mouths wide and singing full-throated.
It has been reported that parties campaigning for the upcoming election have been issued clear directives to follow covid norms. (Wo)MMM wonders why they haven’t been taken seriously; or indeed, what is stopping the health authorities from enforcing them. You would think that any party that wants to lead the state would be aware of the fact that they would be taking over administrative responsibilities during a pandemic.
The Woman from Madras Musings came across an independent candidate from Madurai who quite literally promises voters the moon – he is offering voters a 100-day trip to the moon if he wins. It doesn’t stop there – he also promises homemakers a robot to automate housework, a mini-helicopter for every household and a 300-foot artificial iceberg to keep his constituency cool, among other things. According to the candidate’s affidavit, he reportedly has Rs. 10,000 cash in hand and around Rs. 2,000 in the bank.
It turns out that his manifesto is a campaign to caution voters against falling for tall election promises. (Wo)MMM finds the whole thing rather clever – his campaign turned viral quite quickly. The election symbol that he chose is, of course, a dustbin.