Saturday, August 29, 2020

The quarantine conudrum

The past fortnight has been very hectic. Haven't been able to keep track of many of my favourite blogs. Shall catch up as soon as possible, as much as possible.

Father-in-law needs to have a medical review of an ongoing treatment at a hospital here. So, my parents-in-law returned from Kerala on Aug 20. He has an appointment with the doctor the next day. 

According to the safety protocol, anyone coming in from another state has to be in home-quarantine for 14 days. Our resident association rules stipulate that other members of the residence also need to be in quarantine for the same period. That's till Sept 3rd. Of course, a hospital visit is allowed.


Meanwhile, an uncle and aunt of mine were scheduled to leave for the US on a repatriation flight to join their children there on Aug 21 late night. The airport is around 40 km / 25 miles away, and whenever they travel, they book a cab, though we keep telling them it would be our pleasure to drop them.

But this time around, considering the prevailing circumstances, they were reluctant to take a cab; and apologetically suggested that it would be nice if I or my brother-in-law could drop them on Aug 21 night. And therein was a problem.

I wouldn't be able to drop them since I would be in quarantine from Aug 20 night. If I ventured out, that would be a violation of the rule. 

My brother-in-law wouldn't be able to drop them either, because he would have taken papa to the hospital for the scheduled meeting with the doctor earlier in the day (Aug 21); and it would be considered risky for him (my brother-in-law), post the hospital visit, to take uncle and aunt to the airport the same day in the night. Plus, it would be such a hectic day for him too.


So, this is what we did. I moved to my uncle's house on Aug 20 before the arrival of my parents-in-law at home in the evening. I stayed over there that night; took them to the airport on Aug 21 night, and came back home and entered quarantine. 

My brother-in-law took papa to the hospital as planned on Aug 21 morning, and dropped him back home.

So, there was neither a risk of my relatives getting exposed to infection nor rules of quarantine being violated.

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Kamala Harris might overshadow Joe Biden

It isn't easy to hazard a guess on the result of a US presidential election, thanks to its fabled complexity. Many well-calculated predictions have gone wrong. Now, with less than three months to November 3, the runup to the poll is heating up. 

On August 11, Joe Biden announced his running mate: California senator Kamala Harris, who herself fought a tough battle with Biden to be the Democratic presidential nominee.

The next day, Biden introduced Harris at a campaign event in Wilmington, Delaware. It was late in the night for me, so I watched the event on YouTube the next day morning.

A radiant 55-year-old Kamala Harris, brimming with enthusiasm and confidence, clearly outshined a tired-looking 77-year-old Joe Biden. Their speeches were on predictable lines. 

I am not going into the political or economic ideologies of the two. But by the end of that event, I wondered if Harris, rather than Biden, would actually lead the campaign.


Within the next few days, in India, a year-old YouTube video of Kamala Harris and Mindy Kaling cooking masala dosa began to be widely shared on social media.


On a more serious note, there is a two-year-old clip of Kamala Harris taking down justice Brett Kavanaugh with pointed and sharp questions at a Senate hearing on the Mueller investigation.


Meanwhile, BBC's South Asia Correspondent, Rajini Vaidyanathan, put out a tweet on how Kamala Harris pronounces her first name, which is a very common Indian name.

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.


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.


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


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. 


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.


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.