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Vol. XXX No. No. 15, December 1-15, 2020

Short ’N’ Snappy

Prescription Friction

The Woman from Madras Musings has many pet peeves. Getting honked at while waiting at a red signal, for instance. (Wo)MMM will never understand what purpose this could possibly serve unless, of course, one is an ambulance, which is seldom the case. Lately, since the pandemic began, (Wo)MMM has had to suffer one of her biggest pet peeves – health myths.

There are some who believe that they are on par with doctors when it comes to identifying and treating garden variety illnesses, based on their years of experience taking all sorts of medicines, kashayams and powders for an assortment of ailments. This qualification, (Wo)MMM feels, ought to dissuade them from offering advice to others, but instead it seems to instil in them a mysterious, unshakeable self-confidence. And so, there is much advice from dubious quarters on identifying, preventing and treating the coronavirus, with the result that those less cynical than (Wo)MMM are falling prey to all sorts of strange counsels. Rinse your nose, some say. Stand in the sun, say others.

Rinse your nose while standing in the sun, say the efficient ones. Alternatively, if one were to believe a certain video that (Wo)MMM stumbled upon, steaming is the best way to prevent and cure the coronavirus. There’s nothing wrong with steaming, of course, (Wo)MMM finds it quite soothing when she’s down with the common cold. However, some have taken to wielding it like a weapon against the coronavirus, aggressively steaming themselves in a manner that reminds (Wo)MMM of the mater preparing vegetable kootu for lunch.

Similarly, the breathing exercise of kapalabhati is widely touted as an effective preventive measure for covid. There’s also a forward which keeps popping up on What’s App groups that (Wo)MMM finds particularly aggravating. It is a sort of game that invites people to hold their breath for a certain amount of time, assuring them that if they can achieve this feat, they certainly have not contracted the coronavirus. In (Wo)MMM’s opinion, this game was probably designed for the lungs of a blue whale, not a human being. It does nothing but induce panic in people who cannot hold their breath for the monstrous duration the game demands.

(Wo)MMM supposes there’s no harm per se in doing most of these things – one feels that a few of these practices are rather healthy in moderation. But it gets her goat when medicines and supplements enter the picture. Apparently, some feel it is smart to take unprescribed ‘preventive’ medication against covid. (Wo)MMM feels this makes about as much sense as keeping one’s house perpetually wet to prevent a fire. (Wo)MMM recently read an article about a doctor who was left flabbergasted at a patient who had contracted Vitamin D toxicity out of the blue, until it came to light that said patient had been taking the vitamin supplement once a day in the belief that it would prevent covid.

According to the article, the recommended dose for the patient was reportedly once a week. It’s not just Vitamin D either – according to news reports, pharmacies are seeing increased sales of prescription drugs and even oxygen cylinders. That these get sold without a legitimate prescription is, of course, another problem altogether.

(Wo)MMM can only imagine how hard this situation must be for trained medical professionals. They study hard to bag a college seat amidst intense competition, train for years in general and specialised medical fields and then finally open their practice, with a stethoscope ready at hand waiting to see patients – and then people decide to follow ‘free’ health advice from friends and family who gather random content from unverifiable social media posts instead of consulting their family doctor.

(Wo)MMM cannot wait for a coronavirus vaccine to hit the market – not only will it help get rid of the virus, but it will also hopefully put an end to the annoying quackery doing the rounds. Until then, however, let’s leave the medical advice to the experts, shall we?

Bin Win

A new vendor has taken over the waste collection in a few areas in the city.

(Wo)MMM sees their small, white vehicles putt-putting around on a regular basis. They look quite compact compared to the giant garbage trucks that seemed to diligently plan their route so that (Wo)MMM got stuck behind them on her way to wherever she went. (Wo)MMM understands that the new vendor is doing their best to educate citizens on the need to segregate their household garbage. They were certainly successful in

(Wo)MMM’s own household, where garbage segregation recently graduated from idle talk to real action.

At first, it seemed easy enough to implement. The family installed two bins, one for wet waste and one for dry. But, as (Wo)MMM soon discovered, one must never take things for granted. Some used the red bin for wet waste and the blue bin for dry, while the rest did exactly the opposite. So instead of segregated garbage, the family ended up with divided garbage. (Wo)MMM pounced upon the issue at tea-time, clarifying the matter while luring the family together with chai and biscuits. With the message successfully delivered, everyone switched the bins they were using, bringing us all back to square one. Happily, we got it right the next round onwards, thanks to the mater-by-law of the glittering eye – third time’s the charm, as they say.

Then there was the process of collection to get used to. As (Wo)MMM understands it, the new vendors collect trash once a day, whistling as they make a pit-stop at each house. The first couple of days, the trash went uncollected. An inquiry with the maid brought forth an indignant complaint – “He comes every morning, stops outside our house and then whistles softly on purpose so that I don’t hear!” she burst out. This extraordinary claim was followed up with the collection team who resolved the matter quite easily, striking a friendship with the maid in the process.

New disciplines take a little time getting used to – it usually takes a few unforeseen hiccups before one settles down in a new routine. But one supposes that it is worth making the effort to cultivate a good habit. (Wo)MMM wishes the new vendor all the best in instilling good garbage discipline in our city.


It used to be that milestones meant something – an occasion to remember or commemorate a landmark event, usually after a decade or more. (Wo)MMM finds herself puzzled by the latest social media trend to celebrate the one, two or three-year anniversaries of events, usually contemporary movies or songs.

These posts feature a variety of clips and stills, usually accompanied by nostalgic comments hearkening back to the ‘good old days’ of a whole year or two ago. Even worse are the 6-month ‘anniversary’ trends – since when were anniversaries reduced to mere months? (Wo)MMM is left wondering if she is growing deeply cynical as she grows older. She hopes not.


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