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Vol. XXX No. No. 14, November 16-30, 2020

Zoom … To-Do’s and Not-to-Do’s

by Ranjitha Ashok

‘Lockdown relaxations.’

These words, fizzing like soda run amok, appear to have gone straight to several heads, encouraging rash decisions. The authorities, on the other hand, warn of restrictions still in place, so group gatherings remain an iffy proposition.

This means the days of zoom meetings, of webinars, are not exactly over.

Which brings us to certain potentially sensitive issues.

Look, we understand – this is a from-your-home situation. The distance between you and any gathering is measured by the number of steps you take to get to the device of your choice.

But… close attention required here…this is an audio-visssualll medium.

That’s right. You are both seen and heard, sometimes more of you than necessary.

Surely the nature of each zoom call must influence sartorial, and other, decisions?

Friends and family – no one else’s business.

But lectures and talk shows?

No one expects haute couture or formals – but inner-wear ‘banians’?

Bit much, no?

The same goes for those ubiquitous ‘nnnn…’. Okay, here on MM, we tread carefully around the word ‘nighties’. Several years ago, readers may recall, a lively debate broke out in these pages between certain people, who, to give them all credit, have always maintained the purity of the word, the polished and perfect mot juste. Naturally, such dedication sometimes leads to impassioned debate. Things got a bit heated before a truce was struck, but apparently those on the receiving end still tend come leaping out of bed in the dead of the night, having dreamt of being chased by angry kaftans on rampage.

Well, whatever the right term – go easy on the leisure wear.

And, unless you are ill, lolling in bed isn’t really a great look, even more so during serious talks on morose subjects like the economic impact of the year 2020.

Another point – do take a quick look around before you click on ‘join with video’. On one unfortunate occasion, the lady of the house merrily joined-with-video-ed, while her better half was still putting his shirt on. The poor gentleman promptly panicked when he found himself on candid camera, lost sight of the arm holes, then swiftly proceeded to spin in circles in a desperate dance trying to find them, dragged his shirt on finally, then buttoned it all wrong, while his wife continued smiling sweetly at the camera, oblivious to both the tragic drama behind her, and the fifty-sixty odd witnesses watching in bemused wonder. The tech-in-charge, having momentarily frozen in shock for a few seconds, then came to and quickly blocked them out.


Very important – learn to mute/unmute.

Picture this. A ‘box’ suddenly comes alive. It’s blank but you can hear the voices.

Rumbling Rasp: “I can’t see anyone.’

Gritted-Teeth Impatience: “Try clicking on that button.”

Rumbling Rasp: “What button? Where?”

Gritted-Teeth Impatience: “This is precisely why I asked you to find out what to do before the meeting starts. But do you ever listen?”

Rumbling Rasp: “Every day you are becoming more and more like your mother.”

Gritted-Teeth Impatience: “What did you…” and the moderator finally mutes everyone, a sigh of relief goes up, while some secretly wish they could have heard a bit more about this much-maligned mother.
If you spot a friend in the gallery of faces now opening up before you, do remember a measured ‘hello’ is preferable to the more common exuberant ‘View Halloo’ that makes everyone else in the group dive for cover, and gives you some idea how a fox must have felt. This also applies to those who insist on greeting the Speaker just to register their presence, especially when they are planning to exit quietly once the meeting begins.

If you have decided that the outside is better because a foliage backdrop suits your skin tone, then do request the birds in your garden to please stay quiet for a while. Otherwise, handle the mute button more efficiently.

Back to the interior, do inform your fellow inmates that a call will be in progress at this time, so please avoid wandering cluelessly into the frame, draped in a towel after a shower (Yes, this has happened), and don’t allow either pressure cookers or mixies to start expressing themselves without a warning.

The Speaker and the tech-in-charge have enough unpredictables to worry about without these additions.

It’s simple.

Just re-interpret the three-monkey message.

People can see you, people can hear you, so think before you speak.

The mute button – very useful, ladies and gentlemen.

Amazing how this little feature can bring such peace and order into the world.

Feels like there’s a lesson in there somewhere, doesn’t it?

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