WORLD INTHAVAARAM, 2021–14

About: The story of how we shipped ourselves and got stung this week, in our World

The heat is on India’s capital New Delhi and the surrounding National Capital Region (NCR). Temperatures touched 40.1 degrees celsius on the day of Holi, this week making it the hottest day in March in over 76 years. Delhi had previously hit 40.5 degrees celsius on 31st March 1945.

Counting on a few more degrees to better the record? Blame it on that climate-change fellow?

I can recall other Delhi months having reported even hotter days, but this is the highest in March and this may well be a bellwether of how hot the other months are going to be: more record breaking, for sure!

I lived in the NCR for over six years and the extreme weather conditions, running between severely hot summers to freezing cold winters, makes you crack-up once in a while. Layered living, during cold times-with room heaters on, and un-layered living during the hot times-with the air-conditioning on, was the overall climate of things. And my electricity bills always stayed on a high, hitting different uneven peaks during both seasons!

I’m trying my best to shoot this story off my headlines but it refuses to go away.

Last Saturday saw one of the deadliest killings by the Military that took control of Myanmar in a coup in early February this year. The world was horrified by the killing of over 100 protestors in a single day — the deadliest since the coup.

The lethal crackdown against all kinds of civilians came as protesters defied warnings and took to the streets in towns and cities across the country.

What was the provocation, on that day?

Coup leader Min Aung Hlaing, in a show-of-strength-parade by the military on Army Day, made a speech about safeguarding democracy and warned against violent acts. Anti-coup activists had called for peaceful protests but they soon turned violent as the security forces opened fire in more than 40 locations. The commercial centre, Yangon, saw dozens of deaths, but killings were recorded from Kachin in the North to Taninthartharyi in the far South.

A resident remarked, ‘they are killing us like birds and chickens, even in our homes’.

The birds are watching. And something needs to be done here!

The five Indian States of West Bengal, Assam, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry are in the Election mode doing the dance of democracy. And the multi-day, phased ones have already begun in West Bengal and Assam. The others are the one-day affair Sates and people in them, including me, come out to vote on 6th April.

The campaigning is at its loudest decibel level in Tamil Nadu, with comparisons to prices of slippers, illicit relationships & premature deliveries by dead Moms, size of women’s hips in relation to ‘foreign cows’ milk, and past stories of hair-pulling and ‘tugging at saris’…abuses being thrown about liberally. Wonder, on whose feet the slippers are, and who wears them saris? In the melee, an ex-supercop popularly known as singham (Lion) in his policing days threatened to smash the teeth of an opponent. The Election Commission is finding it tough listening to the music and conducting the proceedings.

Tamil Nadu once famous for awe-inspiring, jaw-dropping oratory by its leaders, has now changed course and re-wired the soundbox. People find that they can finally make some sense of the talk and relate to what is being said. With two head-strong parties hogging the headlines, and endlessly charging at each other, it remains to be seen who leaves the battlefield with tail between the legs and who rises to shine. It’s been an unalloyed ‘entertainment’ thus far.

Last week, a sky-scraper Container Ship fooled by tough high winds and a sandstorm found itself loosing sight and got nicely wedged in the Suez Canal blocking traffic both ways. However, experts weighed-in that the reasons may not be as easy as, ‘simple and main’, as that touted: tugging at possibilities of technical and human errors. Another investigation on yet another mishap in our world could tilt the balance, off the forces of nature.

Meanwhile, the world-from children to the oldies-went overboard in trying to offer solutions to unblock the canal. Some kids suggested using ‘hundreds of helicopters’ to lift the ship out its misery, while another said, pour buckets of water and raise the water lever to float the ship. If that was the kids, an oldie-that’s me- said, call Superman or Hanuman to simply pick it up and place it in the right direction on the water. Wonder where the kids meet the oldies?

Finally, the giant Ship was able to float straight again on Monday, six days since it found a sand bank to deposit its hull. And all other ships horned a sign of relief.

On another dimension, advertisers were quick to seize the moment and I particularly liked a Durex advertisement-widely circulated on WhatsApp-showing a Durex pill wedged across the canal and ‘sperm boats’ frantically looking for an opening. There is no limit to man’s imagination, is there? We can always find a way — sperms included!

We have rubbed the word ‘Lockdown’ to such a degree that a new bone had to be found.

Late this week America’s Capitol Hill area went into a quick lockdown over fears of a security breach. A lone-star ranger rammed his vehicle into a police barricade at a Vehicle Access Point, then got out brandishing a knife and ran towards the Officers. One Police Officer was killed and another injured in the incident.

The suspect was quickly neutralised-shot down and killed. That sure is super-quick action. Later it was revealed that the suspect had lost his job, had medical ailments and feared that the Government was using ‘mind control’ on him.

Weird thoughts!

The Indian cricket team is on a colourful swing. After dark brown-washing England 3–1 in the Test Series and light brown-washing it in the Twenty-20’s (T-20), India dealt a ‘trinity blow’ by clear brown-washing the English in the One-Day Internationals (ODI), 2–1. Multiple colourful catches were spilled, maybe due to the rains in Australia and that ship-wedge stuck (now released) in the Suez Canal, Ha!

This during a time when India celebrated Holi — the festival of colours.

We heard about the World Health Organization (WHO) flying to China to discover the origin of the coronavirus that stayed famous throughout 2020 and maybe well into 2021. WHO says the wildlife trade in China is the most likely path that the coronavirus took to spread from the original animal source, possibly bats, to humans, through an intermediary animal. However, the possible ways in which the novel coronavirus could have emerged in Wuhan is still unclear. And WHO ruled out a laboratory leak. There’s nothing novel about this, right? At best, they confirm what most of us already know, thanks to the tons of reading and seeing we have done during the lockdowns. Many ‘wished’ it was a Laboratory Leak. China is still in the cross-hairs.

Let’s remember that Covid-19 has killed more than 2.7 million people worldwide in the 15 months, since it emerged.

Tracking the vaccination campaign across the world, more than 628 million shots have been given across 150 countries at a rate of about 16.3 million doses per day.

India has administered near about 73 million vaccine doses till date. I hope to join the vaccinated ranks and have scheduled mine, this Saturday afternoon.

Meanwhile, a rapid growth of positive cases is waving at India; and is having Authorities worried. Signs of micro-lockdowns are being put up!

Australia just let go of the stranglehold that rains and floods had on them over the past weeks, which saw swarms of animals find newer ground.

Back in the water, an Octopus peacefully living on one of Australia’s Western Beaches in Geographe Bay decided to test the power of its mighty tentacles. A Geologist wanting to take a dip near the Resort where he was staying with his family, was taking a stroll on the beach when he thought he saw what looked like the tail of a string-ray striking at a seagull. On taking a closer look, along with his 2 years old daughter, and while filming a video, an Octopus suddenly lashed out in their direction and vanished into the deep waters. Stung by the suddenness he left the spot, and later when he returned to go into the water alone, the Octopus found and hunted him down. It stuck him on the arm, and then whipped him on the neck and upper arm. It did leave a mighty impression and I reckon Octopuses have strong emotions, can get angry, when someone enters their territory.

The preferred treatment for sea animal attacks is applying vinegar and since the Geologist did not have anything on him at that time he tried used Coca-Cola ‘Turns out, it worked’.

I guess we need to stretch out on our beaches with lots of vinegar or cola, within the reach of our own tentacles. Welcome to the beach!

While we wait for the Academy of Motion Pictures to reveal the Oscars Winners at the fag end of April, India went ahead and announced its highest honour for cinema artists-the Dadasaheb Phalke Award. The 51st recipient was named as South Indian Superstar Rajinikanth, all of seventy years I’ll flip a cigarette to that!

Rajinikant, the humble and God-fearing person that he is, thanked bus driver Raj Bahadur, his partner, in the Bus Conductor days in the city of Bengaluru, who discovered hidden acting and style talent in him and pushed him into the head-lights of a movie career. And, of course he mentioned his elder brother who provided the foundation-keeping food on the table- and late Film Director K Balachander who gave him his first break in the movies.

Rajinikant has acted in about 167 films in many Indian languages, but mostly in Tamil. He was hurrying-up the shooting for his 168th film ‘Annaatthe’ (Elder Brother) hampered by the pandemic, when he fell ill, spending quality time in Hospital. God must have talked to him during that time as he decided against entering politics-on God’s sign: he had announced starting a brand new Political outfit last December but gave it up. We sorely miss a style quotient and the famous punch dialogue one-liners in the Tamil Nadu Election Circuit.

More real acting stories coming up in the weeks ahead.

Once an Engineer, now a Make-in-India Entrepreneur; Wordsmith; Blogger; maybe a Farmer!