Friday, August 7, 2020

A black day of twin tragedies in Kerala

It has been raining heavily in Kerala, bringing back memories of the last two years, especially 2018 when rain wreaked massive havoc across the state. And today, was a day of two rain-related tragedies. The day began with one and ended with another.

LANDSLIDE

Early morning, we got the news of a landslide burying the residential quarters of tea garden workers in a place called Pettimudi near the tourist hill station of Munnar in the Idukki district of central Kerala. 18 people died and 52 are missing.

Rescue workers at the site. Photo courtesy: The Hindu

Apparently, the incident happened late last night, as people were asleep. Since communication lines were disrupted, news filtered out very slowly and the enormity of the tragedy became apparent only today morning.

Several places in north Kerala are also battling incessant rain. Since many people have been evacuated, loss of lives has been minimised in those areas, but there is considerable loss of property.

PLANE ACCIDENT

In the evening around 8 pm came the news of a plane accident - an Air India flight from Dubai with 190 people on board skidded off the runway while landing in heavy rain in Karipur airport in Kozhikode in north Kerala, fell into a 35-ft gorge, and broke into two pieces. At least 15 people have died.

The wreckage of the plane. Photo courtesy: The Hindu

TABLE-TOP RUNWAY 

This airport is one of the few which has a table-top runway. They are called table-top because the runway is like the top of a table; a raised platform of land, surrounded by a precipice on all sides. This means the plane has limited space to land and the pilot has to be very careful.

I haven't been able to find out how many such airports are there in the world. But there are at least two in India. Besides the one in Kozhikode, where the accident happened today, there is one in Mangaluru in neighbouring Karnataka state. 

REPEAT OF 2010

Incidentally, in Mangaluru airport, there was a similar tragedy in May 2010, in which, again an Air India plane from Dubai overshot the runway and fell into a gorge. The plane caught fire killing 158 people; 8 survived. Luckily, in Kozhikode tonight, the plane didn't catch fire, and the fatalities have been minimised.

ALMOST HOME

This flight, which was involved in the accident today, was one of those special repatriation flights -- called Vande Bharat Mission -- that the government has been operating to bring home people who are stuck in various places abroad because of the cancellation of normal flights.

How sad. They must have been waiting for so long to be with their family and friends, and they were almost home.

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Evening rain in Bengaluru


Bengaluru receives rain between mid-June and September. This video was taken a few days ago.

This is a part of the South-West Monsoon which sets in over Kerala (usually) on June 1. That's also the day when the new academic year begins in that State and one of the most abiding images is that of children in their new set of school uniform holding umbrellas and walking in puddles of water.

The atmospheric system moves north and during this June-September period the entire west coast, as well as some parts of the interior landmass too, get rain. Today, for example, Mumbai experienced heavy downpour leading to the suspension of public transport as well as shutting of offices.

Friday, July 31, 2020

He is no more; but he lives on in others

Last week, a heart-warming piece of news came from Kerala. The family of a man, who was declared brain dead by the doctors, decided to donate his organs -- heart, kidneys, eyes, small intestine and hands -- to others who might need them.

27-year-old Anujith was seriously injured in a motorbike accident on July 14 and was admitted to KIMS Hospital in Thiruvananthapuram. Doctors declared him brain dead three days later. 

On July 21, his heart was airlifted to Lisie hospital in Kochi, and after successful implantation, it began beating in the body of the recipient 11 hours after the extraction.

The small intestine and hands were transplanted to two others at the Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences, Kochi.

Interestingly, 10 years ago, Anujith and a friend ran beside a railway track for almost 500 meters waving a red bag to warn the driver of an approaching train about a crack in the rail track. The signalling worked and a probable accident averted saving many lives.

Anujith and his friend were then cheered and felicitated. He may not be around today but he lives on in others.

References:


(This post is part of the monthly We Are The World Blogfest that goes out on the last Friday of every month to highlight the positive stories around us. On Facebook and on Twitter.)






Tuesday, July 28, 2020

30 years since Graham Gooch's 333 at Lord's Test

Graham Gooch. - Pix credit BBC 

Memories of the first Test between India and England at Lord's from July 26 to 31, 1990.

India lost the match, but there were plenty of moments of great cricket. 

Skipper Graham Gooch scored 333 after India won the toss and put England to bat. England declared at 653 for 4. Alan Lamb made 139 and Robin Smith remained not out at 100.

India struggled quite a bit. The only exceptions were opener Ravi Shastri's 100, and captain Mohd Azharuddin's 121. The next top scorer was Kapil Dev, whose scintillating 77 -- which included four consecutive sixes -- helped India avoid the ignominy of a follow-on by one run.

In the 2nd innings, England declared at 272 for 4. India had to chase 472 to win, but managed only 224, falling 247 runs short.


BBC's Test Match Special brought out a bonus edition on July 27 to celebrate the occasion. It has archive commentary, as well as Gooch, Azharuddin and Kapil recalling those memorable moments.

If you are a cricket fan, then it's worth a listen.

Friday, July 24, 2020

COVID-19 is closer home

(This post has multiple updates at the end)

One of the residents of our apartment complex tested positive for coronavirus, or SARS-CoV-2 as it is officially called, on the 22nd.

He has been running fever 100.22 F / 37.9 C since the 19th, and to be on the safe side, he got a test done at one of the well-known private hospitals. 

Normally, at a government facility, a test is done only if there are symptoms, and if the fever is above 100 F / 37.7 C. The doctor confirmed COVID-19, and he advised home quarantine. But some private hospitals do let you take the test even if the fever is below 100 F. 

(Last month, a friend of mine -- who had severe throat pain and had a fever of 99.7 F/ 37.6 C -- was told he needn't get himself tested for the virus. (A test won't be done without a doctor's prescription.) He recovered after 10 days but thinks he had COVID-19.)

SAFETY PRECAUTIONS

In the evening, civic officials visited our apartment block, recorded the contact numbers of people he had come in contact with, and sprayed disinfectants all over the place, including on the doors of each apartment, lifts etc. 

They were happy with the safety precautions our resident association has taken. We have to compulsorily wear masks outdoors. Maids have to wear face-covering even while working in different houses. All home delivery items are left at a designated spot near the gate, and we have to go and pick them up. Anyone from outside is allowed in only if s/he is wearing a mask and only after being checked for high temperature.

We have emergency medical equipment on hand, just in case a need arises. We also have nearby a healthcare facility. They have offered their services to anyone in the apartment who might need basic medical intervention.

AREA ISOLATED

The immediate vicinity around the flat of the patient has been kind of sealed, with movement in those areas restricted. The rule is that an area around 100 meters around the infected person's house is cordoned off.

Yesterday morning, he put out a message in our WhatsApp group informing all of us that his fever has reduced and that he is generally getting well. That message was quite reassuring and calming.

Even though in our complex, the restriction is only on that particular floor where the patient stays, all of us are careful and we are not venturing out needlessly. Children usually come out to play in the foreground, but they are now conspicuous by their absence.

COMMUNITY TRANSMISSION

According to the patient, he could have got it when he visited a supermarket. It's well-known that most of the big cities have entered the community transmission stage, but that is something most governments, not just in India, but around the world, are hesitant to accept. 

There is only one exception, I can think of: the government of Kerala state, which not only acknowledged that it's community transmission but is also giving out every day the number of people who have been infected via that route. 

It's important that community transmission is acknowledged officially since that will flag the seriousness of the current situation and thereby prod people into being a lot more careful than they are now.

SITUATION IN INDIA AND BENGALURU

The number of positive cases has been steadily going up every day. But the brighter side is that the number of recoveries has also been on the rise. Yesterday over 49,000 were confirmed positive across the country. 

India population: 1.35 billion
Active cases now: 440,135
Total recovered: 817,209
Total deaths: 30,601
Total number of infections: 1.2 million 
(As of July 23)

The graphs on the NDTV website gives a good indication of the trajectory, nationally and state-wise.

The numbers in Bengaluru also has been on the rise. Yesterday, there were 2,207 positive cases.

Bengaluru population: 8.4 million
Active cases now: 29,090
Total recovered: 9,326
Total deaths: 784
Total number of infections: 39,200 
(As of July 23)

The local civic administration, BBMP, has a reasonably good website giving not only regular updates but also detailed graphics on how the city has been faring ever since the first case was detected on March 8.


We just need to be patient and calm to see this through.

I hope you, and all your near and dear too, are safe. 

Take care.

------------

Update on Sunday, July 26

We now have a second case in the apartment complex. 

This person had a minor cold on Tuesday. He woke up on Wednesday with a fever. On Thursday, he booked a test at a nearby private hospital for Friday morning. But when he went for the test, the temperature had come down considerably. Late that night, the results came as positive. He is already on road to recovery.

He is someone who hasn't gone out of the apartment complex in the last two weeks. The only route of infection, he suspects, could be an e-commerce parcel that he had received from the delivery boy.

Update on Wednesday, July 28

The wife and daughter of the second patient have also tested positive. Their condition also is mild.

The Resident Association has revised rules for package delivery protocol since there is a strong suspicion that the parcels could be a source of infection. Now, all packets except food items will be sprayed with a disinfectant and kept at the security gate for a couple of hours. After that, the addressee will be informed, and s/he can come and pick it up.   


Monday, July 20, 2020

Film: The Lift Boy

One of the movies I watched recently was The Lift Boy.

Raju Tawde (acted by Moin Khan)  is an engineering aspirant but has been having no luck in the examination. A quirk of fate lands him a job as a lift operator in an apartment complex.

Though he initially doesn't like the job, he gradually becomes friendly with two residents: Princess (Aneesha Shah), a young aspiring actress; and Maureen (Nyla Masood), a painter who also happens to be the owner of the apartment complex.

Raju with Maureen in the lift. Photo: The Lift Boy

An eminently watchable movie, it explores the interactions of Raju with the two residents, especially Maureen, who becomes kind of a mentor, in whom Raju is able to find the guide who will help him find his way forward in life. It's not a long film: 1 hr 47 min.
 
Though it's largely in Hindi (subtitled in English), it's bilingual in parts, where Raju speaks in English with Maureen and Princess.


I felt the story has an O. Henry-ish touch: its simplicity and the ending.
 
The movie left me with this feeling: irrespective of where we end up in life, it's important to have a positive outlook.

Information on IMDb; it's on Netflix.

Thursday, July 9, 2020

Not everything we see online is correct

The other day I was scrolling through Twitter and I chanced upon a video post. It showed an elderly couple dancing. The text in the post said, "He is 94 and she is 91 - they still have the moves!! Just awesome."

I watched the video. No doubt, the performance was awesome. Amazing, dexterous moves by an elderly couple. I couldn't resist watching it again.


I was tempted to retweet the post. But I checked myself after seeing the age of the couple mentioned in the tweet. Also, I wanted to know something more about this wonderful pair, before I shared the clip. 

CHECKING YOUTUBE

I went to Youtube to see if it had the video and if I could get any details.

Since I didn't know their names, I wondered what should I search for. I began typing out "he is 9... " and immediately many suggestions came up. 


I clicked on "he is 94 and she's 91", and there were seven videos that matched the search. All of them the same videos but with different headings.

Though there were not many details, I got the name of the couple - Dietmar and Nellia.

There are many more videos if you give a search with the couple's names.

CHECKING WEBSITES

Now I opened a web browser to search the Internet for some information about them.

There were a few websites that matched my search. I clicked on two of them: Seeitlive.co, and mirror.co.uk.

They are Nellia and Dietmar Ehrentraut, and they are 66 and 72 years old, respectively. They’ve been married to one another since 1970—and they both love to dance. Although they’re not necessarily a household name, the Ehrentrauts are pretty well-known in the dance community as passionate and daring dancers, no matter how old they get!
The article gives the sources of information, including the website of the couple

An elderly Austrian couple have shot to online fame after their barnstorming routine in a veterans dance contest. 
Footage of Dietmar Ehrentraut, 70, and his wife Nellia, 64, energetically boogieing in Bavaria has been viewed more than 62 million times.
The young-at-heart pair, who live in the tranquil town of Durmersheim in Baden-Wuerttemberg but were born in Austria, have been dancing together for decades.
And a few weeks ago their moves were caught on camera by impressed audience member during a veterans dance competition in Bavaria.
See It Live, is a part of Shareably Media Network that was founded in 2015 by a team of UC Berkeley graduates and is located in Los Angles, California. See It Live shares "the best entertainment content from around the world with you".

The Mirror is one of Britain’s well-known media organisations.

Nellia and Dietmar Ehrentraut are not 94 and 91.

WHY I'AM FOCUSSED ON THE AGE

I am not trying to be a spoilsport here. Nor am I belittling the absolutely impressive performance by the elderly couple, who, I now realise, are extremely gifted, and they conduct training sessions. 

Why I think the wrong age must be called out is not only because that's factually incorrect but we also tend to associate the impeccable performance with that age, which is wrong. 

Let's be wary of "clickbait" information that we see online unless it's on a well-established media organisation's website or it's been put out by a person we know is credible.

Let's not share anything unless we are sure about its veracity.