Registered with the Registrar of Newspapers for India under R.N.I 53640/91
Vol. XXXI No. 6, July 1-15, 2021
The Woman from Madras Musings is at that age where many friends have progressed to taking on the mantle of parenthood.
On listening to their stories, (Wo)MMM has a new respect for parents – especially young parents – these days. Entertaining a child under normal circumstances is hard enough; keeping them occupied in a pandemic for more than a year is a formidable affair. A friend describes it as a constant effort to prevent a tiny five-year old tornado from tearing through the home. After all, children haven’t been able to meet and play with their friends in what must seem like an entire era to them. It naturally falls to parents and family at home to make up for the lack. “She wakes up every morning asking me if Corona has gone away,” the friend said over the phone, gasping for breath as he took a break from running and catching. He added that he was winning but readers may be advised to take his word with a pinch of salt – he still refuses to accept that (Wo)MMM won a race against him in the eleventh standard.
(Wo)MMM understands that some parents had been a tad more positive about the situation in the beginning. The sister, for instance, spoke sadly of the naive optimism she had borne in the early days of home confinement. They had just been informed by a cousin that her own four-year old had already ‘read 40 books so far this year,’ so she had hoped that the nephew would pick up the habit of reading, too. And so, the nephew was presented with a well-chosen book. He, of course, immediately buried it in the deep, dark recesses under the sofa cushions and returned to sliding down the bannister. In an act of good faith, (Wo)MMM sent a home science experiment kit thinking the nephew would find it more interesting than a book, only to soon receive a terse call saying that he had ended up gulping down the liquids in a fit of curiosity. Thankfully, those were harmless saline solutions – the manufacturer no doubt expected something of this sort to happen and designed fail-safe experiments. The kit has now been relegated to a high place that the nephew cannot reach by hook or crook; this of course, has added to it’s allure and the nephew is now trying to figure out how to climb to it. Like most, the sister and brother-in-law work from home these days. It’s all been quite exhausting, they say – between office, housework and babysitting, they’re quite tuckered out. They assure (Wo)MMM that they will not complain about the rate of playschool fees anymore – it’s an investment, not an expenditure, they say with great feeling.
Curiously, it’s cooking that most kids seem to be drawn to. The nephew has baked an enormous amount of cakes this month already; a friend’s daughter has started making ice cream at home. Another reports that her niece has turned into a home entrepreneur, launching her own line of fruit jams. Of course, being the self-proclaimed CEO, she doesn’t actually do any of the work. She royally delegates the jam-making to her grandmother who has reportedly been trapped in the kitchen for weeks liquefying fruits by the barrel full. Another friend’s daughter has co-opted her grandfather into having tea parties along with her and her dolls. The grandfather, by the way, is a rather imposing gentleman with an arresting beard to boot. As the friend describes it, he has been spending time cooking imaginary dishes and participating in imaginary conversation with toys of all sizes.
(Wo)MMM finds the whole thing rather joyful. All said and done, the children are being quite creative in finding new things to do and be amazed by. Plus, their activities seem to be rather more intellectual than (Wo)MMM’s own had been – most are exploring arguably worthwhile ideas as opposed to, say, seeing if your head would fit through a grill and then getting stuck there for hours on end.
When (Wo)MMM drew attention to the silver linings, she was invited to keep her opinions to herself. “I have to leave now, to buy idli batter,” said a friend, pointing out that unless they had dinner on time, his child wouldn’t go to sleep. “It’s so peaceful when she sleeps,” he said wistfully. Fair enough.
Last week, the better half had to make a trip to the airport to pick up a client. It didn’t take long for the Woman from Madras Musings to glean that it was a rather traumatic affair – he had left in high spirits and returned as a markedly more distracted man with plenty of questions.
It turns out that when the better half drove into the airport, he was met with a surfeit of confusing signposts leading him down the garden path, as it were. “Everything is written everywhere,” he exclaimed, a mild exaggeration no doubt. He had dutifully followed all the signs directing him to the domestic arrival zone and, after a while, found himself at the exit toll booth with an attendant demanding payment. “But I haven’t even picked up my passenger,” he pointed out, and was instructed to return to the labyrinth to get the job done. After a substantial amount of time going around in circles, he finally reached the domestic terminal, ‘somehow found the poor fellow’ and left in triumph. “ I had to pay forty rupees for the privilege,” grumbled the better half.
(Wo)MMM doesn’t anticipate driving to the airport anytime in the near future but hopes that the system is made clearer, soon. The whole thing sounded annoying even though the roads were reportedly relatively free; normal airport traffic probably won’t be able to handle multiple merry go rounds.
We’re roughly a year and a half into a pandemic that has torn across the world with devastating consequences. And yet, the Woman from Madras Musings finds, there are still those who believe in curious conspiracy theories that are laughable and terrifying in equal measure.
An acquaintance of (Wo)MMM’s holds the unshakeable belief that the pandemic is a hoax designed by some nefarious organization wanting to grab global control. He dislikes wearing a mask, claiming that it does more harm than good – according to him, it forces people to breathe in the carbon dioxide being exhaled and deprives them of fresh oxygen. “Why do you think Chennai is doing better than most cities?” he asked. “It’s because our people are wearing the mask below the nose. We instinctively know better,” he said. (Wo)MMM doesn’t think she will meet him in person anytime soon.
The latest in a line of incredulous claims is that of covid vaccines bestowing magnetic powers on the recipients. Multiple photos have surfaced of people showing off their new superpower, demonstrating how spoons and coins stick to their skin. FIRA, the Federation of Indian Rationalist Associations, is understandably aghast. They point out that the objects are probably stuck to the body because of ‘moisture content on the skin’ – which (Wo)MMM takes to mean that a bath will probably wash off the new superpowers.
FIRA, by the way, is offering a Rs. 1 lakh reward to anyone who can prove they have actually developed magnetic powers after taking the vaccine. Unsurprisingly, the reward hasn’t been claimed yet.