Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Prioroties

This is about last morning's incident. I know, in this "COVID-Era" (if that term exists) every one of us has had vivid experiences to share.  What I share too maybe parallel to something one of you must have encountered too.

I have to begin with my April routines to reach this morning’s anecdote. From the month of April, it has been a ritual for me to visit the supermarket once in a fortnight dressed like a bandit (covering every possible inch of my skin with full clothing), mask, and gloves. As I stand at the entrance of Lulu supermarket, my temperature will be checked. Now even the "Ehetraaz app" activated on my phone, for my COVID-health status.  If it shows green, I enter the supermarket. God forbid if it ever shows amber or red, I enter the ambulance. This is only my fears.

But, I continue to go. Fill the cart with loads of supplies, veggies, snacks, and return home where my two kids who currently are on "Zoom-Schooling"(if that term exists too) help me sort the things out and throw things in their places. This way, the kids even know where the masala boxes go in my kitchen. This is the new productive utilization of time and life skills they are adding on.

 6P.M. Now. As I type, I am seated in the garden outside in my locality where my 6year old son cycles with his other masked buddies. And I notice a frail-looking young boy with a bunch of papers approaching me.  He turned out to be an ordinary expatriate that is jobless for 3 months and is apparently unable to even board the “Government’s Vande Mataram flight” to India due to lack of finance. So a man who earned a decent salary 3 months back stood with folded hands begging for me shell out a few Riyals if that could help him travel back to India. When I directed him to the embassy he showed me papers rejected by them (for whatever reasons).  “Where is the money for the ticket?”.

 That leaves me quite heavy-hearted and off track. Where was I. Yes, I was narrating my supermarket experience in this COVID-Times. 

Well, so coming to the main point now. What was that incident that happened this morning?.  

As I got out of the supermarket, I saw a middle-aged looking, sad-eyed, well-built man with hands tied at the back staring at me as he paced by the Lulu Exit doors. Ignoring his looks, I walked to my car and reached home. After all my chores, cooking, and lunch I plonked on the couch and clicked open the WhatsApp window.

I see a hello” from an unknown number with a DP of the same man pacing by the Lulu exit.  All my attempts to place him in vain only left me chiding my memory capacity of remembering people's names or faces.  Well, now,  I dialed the number of this mysterious man and sternly asked “yes, could you please tell me your name. You have whattsapped me”.

After the 6 minutes call, I threw my phone smiling yet very heavy-hearted. Almost too emotionally upset and tears swelling up as if waiting to be swept away and looking for an opportunity for. As he reminded our short meeting a few months ago, and I had told him “Aladdin so where is your chirag?. He reminded me, and we laughed”. A call that began with an angry anxiousness ended with smiles and emotions.

His name was Aladdin. An uber driver. Who drove me and my little son back from a function one night at 10pm when my pride, my Landcruiser shrunk in the parking with punctured tires. I had booked an Uber for the first time in Doha! My son’s first remark was “yaeeks,, so dirty car, why is a water bottle on the seat. I will not sit in this car”. The driver smiled as I pushed my son on the seat petulantly.

Soon, he jumped on the seat, singing loudly. I had to instruct him to belt himself and keep his volume low. But the driver laughed and struck a conversation.

“Madam, he reminds me of my son. In Mysore”

“Mysore!! My jaws and chin fell almost apart. You are Kannadiga?”

That’s it. I am now not narrating what the next 10 minutes of the conversation were about.

 “So, Aladin, where is your Chirag” I had told him.

And today, in sheer frustration of losing the job, savings, and no money to even call me, he had messaged me that too after borrowing a hot spot of the internet from the Lulu Supermarket's security personnel.

Now I realized his shying away from approaching me at the exit as I did not recognize him. He did not want to pester me. Is what he said.

“I know ma’am I can not ask you for a job. I just called…ma’am…sumne..sumne.. meaning simply in Kannada.” He sounded unnecessarily apologetic. I tried to feel in his shoes and I could gather empathy for his situation. After all, it was me who had given him my number when he had shared his interest in bringing along his wife and son here to Doha soon as she could look for a teaching job here.  All his dreams were puffed away by a tiny microbe called the corona.

And most importantly, I placed this call to him, in the afternoon, right when my kids were in the midst of an argument, how I forgot to buy the “son-papdi, and lollipops” ordered by them. We have to now wait for 15 days for that. Drat. Moreover, they had helped me with the mopping and vacuuming that day!

 Priorities!

After narrating Aladin’s anecdote, my daughter, touched her heart, and with a question filled smile said” ayyo amma… what can we do, so many....”

Ayyo,....Yes. So many…problems! The world had so many problems. And the most unpredictable priorities. We are nothing different from a capsized vessel trying hard to fight the storm and survive.


The only solution Corona gave apart from problems was a bit of relief to global warming. The coronavirus-triggered lockdown has led to a steep fall in global carbon emissions by 17 percent in early April as compared to 2019 levels with India's emissions dropping by 26 per cent, according to a study.