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Satire: The Covidiots

By Dilip Bobb

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Today is April 1, a day when people normally play pranks on each other or unsuspecting victims. These are anything but normal times so the jokes will be abandoned and the fake news will be replaced by.., well..fake news!  Many people have been segregated, and hopefully sanitised, but we are also exposed to the unsanitised, or those who think that wringing their hands is the best way to beat the virus. Their breed, sadly, has not decreased but only increased, so here are the various types of Covidiots, pun definitely intended, that we are encountering as we navigate the unknown perils and potholes of the post-Corona world.

The Disinfectant Devotee, which refers to those suffering from Sanitizer Seizures. These are people who have suddenly discovered the joys of hygiene, and that soaps are not only what one watches on TV. Having stocked up on sanitizers like they were the elixir of life, which they well may be, they have reached the stage where their bodies have absorbed so much soap and sanitizer that when they sneeze, they clean the entire neighbourhood.

The Anxious Aunts: After exactly a week under quarantine, there are a huge number of women—and men—who are in panic mode, not because of the virus so much but because in another few days their true hair colour will start to emerge. Since all beauty salons and parlours have been shut, so too has the opportunity to apply that hair colour which conceals the real you and reveals the grey atop the grey cells. It’s like hair today, gone tomorrow and it’s perhaps no coincidence that the word ‘corona’ is derived from crown.

The New Have-Nots, aka the Happy Hoarder: These are the panic masters, those who believed the end of the world was at hand and only the smart would survive, smart being another word for those who filled the house with enough supplies to last a year, if not more. These are those who took the advice about cleanliness to the extreme by cleaning out all the stores in the vicinity with everything from food to Frooti, snacks and soaps, toilet rolls and toiletries, medicines and motivational mantras. They are the ones who have created a new children’s game—Maggi Mountain.

The Wordsmiths: There’s a new phrase that has taken the world by storm, social distancing. Right now, it’s the only thing separating us from being present and being spoken of in the past tense. Unfortunately, for India, there does not seem to be a Hindi translation of the phrase which is why the Prime Minister uses it while speaking in Hindi.  It has caused much confusion and given rise to some lighter moments, with villagers in Punjab asking who is this ‘Soshal Dushant Singh’ while others have attempted some translation into Hindi, with the first prize going to the person who came up with ‘Tan Door’.

The Dance Dunces: These are the ones we saw during the Janata curfew when we were asked to clap for health care workers. Instead, we worked ourselves into frenzy by dancing, singing, gyrating, banging pots and pans, and generally behaving like Govinda on steroids. Bollywood would be proud of the clones they have created, except it is spelt clowns. None of them paid the slightest attention to actor Akshay Kumar’s pleading beforehand, with folded hands, to avoid acting like India had won the World Cup, which is exactly what they did.

Fashionistas: They are the ones who know more about Chanel than coronavirus and Hermes as opposed to Herpes. Sadly, the lockdown has led to many trendy women losing their household help, which means putting out the garbage themselves. Being fashionistas, their biggest dilemma is what to wear while doing so, since it means stepping out in public.

Famous for being not so Famous: This is the time for all good women to rise to the occasion, and so she did. Before this, singer Kanika Kapoor ranked pretty low in the rarefied ranks of celebrityhood, but then she caught the dreaded disease and became nationally famous overnight for attending a party in the presence of a former chief minister and her MP son. That was enough to propel her into the social media stratosphere, with daily reports on her tests and recovery going viral, literally, and garnering the kind of headlines that would have been the envy of other famous coronavirus victims like Oscar winner Tom Hanks.

Discovery Channel: No, not the one that takes us to strange places, but the one that takes us to strange places—in our own home! Thanks to the enforced and prolonged confinement which has given Home Stay a new meaning, many people are finding out more about their homes than they knew in the pre-Corona days. Many are discovering what their kitchen looks like, having visited for the first time, while others are finding out the longitude and latitude of their corridors and hallways as they wander aimlessly, or use it as a jogging/walking track. In times of social distancing, the bathroom turns into a refuge while going up and down in the lift in high rise buildings seems like a fun way to pass the time and discover who your neighbours are after all these years.

 Which Doctors: They live in an alternate world, where the belief in home made, or bovine made, remedies is the answer to their prayers, or to the cornavirus pandemic. They are creating pandemonium with their recipes and remedies, including those who think the virus is a China-Pakistan conspiracy to destabilise India, or that liquids produced by bovines will heal those affected, that yoga will keep the infection at arms length, and even some, like politician Ramdas Athavale who has gone viral with his hit song, “Go Corna Go’. Here’s the bottom line: the coronavirus does not only affect the lungs, it also affects the brain.

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