Love in The Times of Swine Flu

This week has been so surreal that it has been impossible to even think of writing about anything else other than H1N1 and the swine flu.
I had been writing my piece on swine flu over the last three days, trying to highlight in a slightly funny and sarcastic manner, the ongoing mass hysteria, the ridiculous reaction of the Government and the medical authorities and the siege-like mentality that we have gotten ourselves into; all caused by one puny, single-stranded RNA virus. I had woven together a thread that ran through multiple facts; that H1N1 is just a mild influenza virus like any other “flu” virus, that masks are of no value in the routine scheme of things, except to make people look like they are on chemotherapy, that Tamiflu does not prevent infection, but at best reduces its effect and spread, that hand-washing is a much more effective technique in prevention and spread and that the media-focus on the deaths has been one of the prime reasons for the escalation of the whole issue.
Despite the sarcasm and irony, the article was very depressing.
By the time I had finished the final edits on that piece, it was time to go from my office in Prarthana Samaj to the one in Lower Parel. I usually take this opportunity to get some much-needed shut-eye, but on Delisle Road, I suddenly woke up to an escalating cacophony of shouting people; these were raucous “dahi-handi” breakers passing by in trucks. Then, as soon as I reached Ganpatrao Kadam Marg, I was stuck in a huge traffic snarl. G K Marg is now a busy arterial road that connects Worli Naka to Tulsi Pipe Road; despite this, there were at least four “handis” that had been strung up across the main road. Obviously, someone ahead was trying to break one of them and all traffic from both sides had come to a complete halt. Then, in typical Mumbai style, a couple of cars went past our stalled two lanes to create a third one, thus further blocking the incoming traffic and adding to the chaos. I got out of the car and walked the 200 odd meters or so to the office; handis, traffic, people yelling; it felt great! This was the Mumbai I was used to!
On an impulse, I picked up the phone and asked my wife out to a lunch date; just like that. And just like that she said yes and in an hour we met at one of Mumbai’s best-kept secrets, “The Tasting Room”, which is on the first floor of “Good Earth” in the Raghuvanshi Mills compound.
With some lovely Yellow Tail Merlot giving company, I ran through their vegetarian specials for the day starting with an amazingly fresh asparagus and chevre salad, moving on to a subtle mint-flavored zucchini soup, then to a delectable beet and feta risotto, while sampling parts of my wife’s cottage-cheese polenta and then ending with a “just-right” ginger and vanilla creme brulee; it’s been quite some time since I’ve found food such as this to die for and it was worth every bit of the “pigging-out”.
In times like these, when the world around us seems to have lost touch with reality, when bandit-like masked people seem to be sprouting all around us and overrunning our city and common sense has taken a beating and a back-seat, it felt great to walk out into the bright afternoon sun with a satiated sense of having reclaimed some sanity and a semblance and sliver of normality.

No Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email is never shared.Required fields are marked *