The Delights of Distraction No.51

“My friends and I have agreed to call each other every day just to mark ourselves present, like roll call in our school classrooms. We speak to those we love in tears, and with trepidation, not knowing if we will ever see each other again. We write, we work, not knowing if we will live to finish what we started. Not knowing what horror and humiliation awaits us. The indignity of it all. That is what breaks us.”

That’s Arundhati Roy in her searing essay on the 7th circle of hell we seem to have descended into. She, more eloquently than we ever could, has put words to our living nightmare.

We are sending all our energies and hope that all of you are safe and well. The good news is that Ami is on her final leg of recovery, and will soon be back in action, new and improved with antibodies. Thank you all for writing in and checking in and sending your prayers; your sweetness and affection was duly cherished. 

We all feel so desperate and helpless; but if there is anyway you are looking to help somehow, then here’s a link to a document that lists fundraisers, causes, non-profits that you can donate to that will help our fight against Covid-19 and it’s devastating effects. 

Here are some links we loved over the week; we hope they provide some blips of respite from the emotional wreckage:

To Read: We’re all having crazy, weird dreams during this time, and apparently there’s a scientific reason to that, explained in this Time article.  Studies found that subjects dreamed more about their close friends and family when they were in isolation, and that our dreams can be violent and usually revolve around losing our loved ones. Interesting to note how the world at one point were sharing the same dream pattern, thanks to the virus.  

Here’s a fascinating article, by the Fifty-two, on how we had to fight for biomedicine in India:

“At the time of India’s independence, Dr Kiran Kumbhar writes in his timely essay, there were 47,500 modern medical doctors compared to 2.5 lakh Ayurvedic and Unani practitioners. The state’s choice of modern medicine as the “official” system, over Ayurveda and Unani, is not as straightforward as it seems. Politicians had to fight for it, people had to accommodate it in a bouquet of beliefs, popular movies had to evangelise on its behalf.”

To Ponder: In a pro-natal society, the decision to have or not have children is beset with sexist, religious and outdated societal bias. 

The therapist in this article, lists a serious of questions and some thought experiments to help you make the very clear decision on whether to have children, raise children, or live a child-free life; a journey that’s unique to each person. No one can tell you what’s right for you, yet society, family, and your own assumptions continue to influence these decisions  - resulting in a  bad decision rooted in fear or “what will people think.”

To Joy Scroll: Self-isolation, quarantine and stay-at-home orders have upended lives, but for some it has also provided a chance for reflection and soul searching, especially to those artists whose creativity flourishes under duress. One such artist is Tehran-based Salman Khoshroo whose uses a mix of materials from oil, wool and foam to create delicate and vulnerable portraits that resonate with his inner vulnerability. 

To Listen: The scene is set, the piano theme plays and the listener is on their way, transported, from the 21st century, with its crises of oxygen, covid and death -  to the time of the Aztecs, the Sumerians or the Vikings.

History, particularly the history of times way, way back – provides an escape from our own times. And therefore we recommend this podcast, The Fall of Civilisation, which tells the stories of civilisations that rose to great power before falling into ruin. Here’s a quote from one of the listeners:

“Me listening to the Aztecs episode: “This Cortez chap sounds like one of the all-time biggest bastards”

Me listening to the Incas episode: “He’s got a cousin… who was WORSE???” 

To Watch: Here’s the recurring daily situation; you finally take a break from work, take some time out from doom-scrolling and responding to social-media appeals, to tuck into your meal and watch something escapist and comforting while you’re funnelling food into your mouth. You scroll through Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hotstar. Half an hour later, your meal is over and you still haven’t figured out what you want to watch. 

This movie recommendation engine, is just the ticket. Choose your genre, the release year, where you’re streaming and couple other things you might be nitpicky about  - and it throws up some really juicy options. 

Some goodies that came up for us when we selected Comedy, Anything after year 2000): About Time, Fantastic Mr. Fox, Stranger than Fiction, Knives Out, JoJo Rabbit, The Artist, Pride, Isle of Dogs, The Death of Stalin. 

Also to Watch: What are the meanings and mysteries of happiness? Can happiness ever last? How do we define happiness in the first place?This enigmatic subject is tackled in an highly in-depth, engaging and masterful manner by Will Schoder in this animated video, and we recommend that all 45 minutes of it are worth their time in enhancing your well-being. 

To Do: If you’re holed up at home with access to a printer - then this set of 42 activity pages is  a quirky yet introspective, and maybe a little existential, but appropriate for all ages meditation you can work away at. You can print the PDF file at home or use it to draw digitally.

To Cook: This recipe is a delicious riff on the classic cinnamon roll, and in line with current Ramadan day-long fast post- feasting. We love the author’s desi twists to classic recipes, so do check out the other recipes on the blog. 

To Life Hack: Here is a 5-step plan for waking up earlier and with more energy The key advice we found is once you decide how many hours you need for sleep and develop your relaxing bedtime routine, you start by shifting your wake up time by 5 minutes each day, and you energize yourself using various techniques like natural bright light, drinking water, an activating breathing exercise, or quick heart-pumping exercise. For lockdown times, when mornings bleed into afternoons, you’re going need these nifty hacks in your backpocket. 

To End:

Elegy by Aracelis Girmay

What to do with this knowledge

that our living is not guaranteed?

Perhaps one day you touch the young branch

of something beautiful. & it grows & grows

despite your birthdays & the death certificate,

& it one day shades the heads of something beautiful

or makes itself useful to the nest. Walk out

of your house, then, believing in this.

Nothing else matters.

All above us is the touching

of strangers & parrots,

some of them human,

some of them not human.

Listen to me. I am telling you

a true thing. This is the only kingdom.

The kingdom of touching;

the touches of the disappearing, things.

Our heart goes out to all of you - please, please stay safe and indoors,

Viv & Ami