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India, Maharashtra, Mumbai 29 July 2020 I actually hadn't looked at our numbers until I sat down to write this post. We have 1.53 million cases, which is about 1/16th of the total cases worldwide. We also have a great recovery rate with 988,000 recoveries and around 34,000 deaths. A few people I know have caught the disease, but they have all recovered successfully from it. The closest one to me was the family who live in the apartment directly above mine, where three out of the four members were affected (all asymptomatic). They only found out because the mom is a senior air hostess (stewardess/flight attendant for those of you in the US) with Air India and was involved in bringing Indians back from abroad as part of a large-scale government initiative. She was required to be tested before and after each trip, and that's how they found out she was a carrier. Thankfully, both she and her kids (who I grew up with) have successfully finished their quarantine without developing symptoms. The municipal corporation sent a whole team out to our building to test everyone a couple of weeks ago, and no one else here seems to have it. Mumbai was the epicentre of the pandemic in India for the longest time. Now the cluster of cases has moved to Pune, which is a city about 300 kilometres inland from Mumbai. We're still in lockdown all over the country, despite the so-called 'Unlock 1.0' that the government had announced. We can now order in from restaurants, have 10% of the staff in any office come to work, but the local train service is still suspended for anyone who is not an essential worker. If you live in Mumbai, no trains means you can't get anywhere at all. The local trains are, quite rightly, called the lifeline of the city as they are the sole means of cheap, fast public transport in this pretzel of a metropolis. The central government has taken the opportunity to revise the whole public schooling system and turn it on its head. It remains to be seen whether the new format and curriculum benefits students at all. There is also the inauguration of a massive fucking temple happening up north. Even through the pandemic, life in India is going on as usual. I only have one set of grandparents living, and they stay in the building next to us, which is a blessing. We make lunch and dinner for them every day and ferry it across, since they're both 85+ years of age. My parents are over 60 themselves. My father, who is an accountant, had opened the doors of his firm and begun work with a skeletal staff. But after his receptionist got COVID, I put on my Priest-coloured Power Mode pants and told him flatly that he was no longer allowed to go to work. He has been working from home again since then. The money situation is tight since none of the bills he is owed are getting paid, but he is paying his staff 75% of their salaries. It is quite possible that he may have to shut shop after the pandemic. Thankfully, he has savings and my mom is retiring with a great pension in six months. I have gained an unhealthy amount of weight around my tummy, which is straight-up giving me body image issues. Despite @Connor's efforts to convince me to the contrary, I feel fat and there's nothing I can do about it. Going for a run is out of the question at the moment since we are in the thick of the monsoon and the roads are littered with slippery moss. I have been helping clean the house though, which is no less than cardio on account of the fact that my mom is a hoarder. Apart from that, I've also been feeling low for no reason. I suppose that's to be expected We're waiting to celebrate Ganesh Chaturthi next month, which is sort of like Christmas for us. Even though there won't be people visiting this year, I take comfort in the fact that everything else will be the same. My grandfather will lord over everyone for two days to make sure every ritual goes perfectly, my brother will pick fights with my grandma, my mom will complain about being overworked, my dad will hang around with nothing to do, and I will be the one conducting all the rituals under my grandpa's direction like a good girl. I'll try to post some pictures here after the festival. Hanging in there like everyone else, Sharvari
I know a lot of people here are animal rights activists and/or care deeply for species other than their own, so I thought this would be a good place to share this. Despite widespread protests, the Byculla Zoo in Mumbai has just acquired eight Humboldt penguins for their new aquarium (which has not even been built yet). The average temperature in Mumbai is 30 degrees Celsius (86 degrees Fahrenheit) on any given day of the year--extremely unsuitable for animals that are native to the much-colder Pacific coast of South America. In order to keep the penguins in a temperature-controlled environment, massive amounts of water and electricity will have to be used. All this when we've just had a three-year-long, state-wide drought, and have to buy electricity from four other states just to keep ourselves on our feet. More on the penguins here. Sadly, this is not the first instance of animal abuse that has come to the fore recently. A lot of people have begun to keep furry purebred dogs like Saint Bernards and Huskies as a status symbol, making their lives miserable in the Indian summer heat. I know Michael said that India was entering its Young Soul Age. I see evidence of this everywhere, from the burgeoning start-up culture, to an emphasis by the media on youth and individuality, to the government's efforts to promote "Brand India" in a bid to catch up with the rest of the world (and surpass it). On the other hand, I also see a bit of the Mature paradigm affecting us, especially in the arts, where filmmakers and artists are choosing to break away from the traditional Bollywood stereotypes of family and honour, moving towards inclusivity and silenced voices in their art, albeit packaged in a Young Soul flavour. Bringing the penguins into a state-managed zoo seems to me like the Mumbai Municipal Corporation is trying to get a one-up on the world by proving that they, too, are capable of keeping and breeding 'exotic' animals with all the flair of a First World country. This post was intended as a kind of rant (along with a bit of news from this side of the world), but any inputs/advice on the situation would be much appreciated. Thanks in advance and lots of love!