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Vol. XXX No. 6, July 1-15, 2020


Ranjitha Ashok

Picture courtesy: Sriram V.

Ok, Chennai, listen up. Looks like this mega-virus is going to be around for some time. So, simple question: WHERE ARE YOUR MASKS?
Sorry – don’t really enjoy yelling, but good people of this city, how many times do you need to be told?You at the back. Yes, that’s right – you. Why is your mask draped around your neck? If it ain’tjewellery, it is not neck-art, okay? And you, on the right. With your mask perched on your chin. Wear it like a bandana around your head, why don’t you? Seriously – Where does this resistance to a safety measure come from?

You can’t help feeling sorry for the authorities. Not easy – playing school teacher to a vast class of millions of students of all ages, most of them hell-bent on breaking rules, and just waiting for you to look away before they’re crowding again – Not. Wearing. Masks. Come on, people, a little cooperation, please.

Agreed, it does mean a major reboot of everyday routine. Every time you step out, you’ll now go: “Hmmm – keys, phone, glasses, credit cards, ID … oh God, where’s my mask?” Appearance is impacted, although the couture-brigade has been busy, and fancy designer masks are doing the rounds. Since the ‘eyes’ now have it, eye and forehead art will probably take over from lip-art for a while.

Masks may affect food choices. Given how you, when masked, are in close touch with yourself, your penchant for onions and garlic may drastically reduce. And polite protocols during these Masked days? The gracious ‘Namasthe’ is perfect for ‘social distancing’, and yay to ourselves for that. But if it’s a first-time meeting, do you hold your breath, de-mask for a split second, and replace at once? At a meal, should the mask dangle from your left ear, or right? You have to de-mask when you eat or drink, obviously. Then, do you mask up when you talk to each other? So that means no conversation while you eat? Is it okay to be the only one in the room with a mask on? This is a job beyond an Emily Post. On the contrary, a savvy, homegrown 21st century VimlaPurushotham, who understands the baffling way our good citizens happily (mis)interpret rules, may prove more adept.

Meanwhile, people, wear those masks. Keep your chin up. Everything comes with an expiry date – even the bad times.

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