6 Months!

It has now officially been 6 months since we went into lockdown here in my area. March 20th was the last day I went to work at the office and after several discussions of when and if we would go into a lockdown, it was declared that India would go into a complete lockdown, other than essential services, 3 days from then. Kerala declared that we would go into lockdown on the next day, which gave a lot of people enough time to get arrangements made after the weekend. I went into the weekend not knowing if we would go into lockdown and on Monday morning we got the info that we will be effective that same day.

Since then I have been working at home, using the client/windows system provided to me by the company. We are working outsourced for a large, large company. I have been working steadily at home (sometimes a little too much for my taste) and I have only gone out for a few times since then. Usually just to the main post office (to collect packages), some grocery shopping (it’s nice to go out to a store once in a while even if we do most of our shopping online via delivery apps), go to an ATM, some other errands and to get a bite to eat from one of the restaurants or cafes that are allowing dine in options.

How things have changed! I never thought I would ever get some work from home opportunity other than the freelance thing that I do. Never thought this job would be allowed to get done from home but here we are. And I still don’t plan on going back for a while. If I do quit and leave for another job I will be looking for another work from home option as well. Life as we know has certainly changed!

Should The Drinking Age Be Lowered?

When I growing up the drinking age was 18. As a kid I never did like the idea of drinking much. That was mainly because as a kid, maybe at the age of 7 or 8, I took a little sip of beer or something and it was so bitter that I “yucked” at it. (I am so sorry beer that I ever did that. I know I was just a kid at the time but still, I apologize)

When I was 16 that changed and I looked at beer differently. My older cousins took me to a restaurant where they knew the owner and they were over 18, they served my cousins beer. I took a glass and got almost drunk at that. That was my first proper taste of beer. And I was hooked. At 17 I and my friends would buy bottles from a bar in Edapally and the bartenders would only tell us “you can’t drink it in here but I will sell it to you as long as you carry it of in a bag”. Ofcourse we said yes and it was glorious. We friends shared a few bottles between us and it was fun.

I see it as a rite of passage for a lot of people, especially here in India. Now, a few years ago – I don’t remember which year – they changed the minimum drinking age from 18 to 21 in most states in India. In a couple of states it’s 25! What the fuck!! I think they can keep it at 18 for beer and maybe 21 for hard liquour. Knowing the kind of trouble some of these kids get into (comparatively, I was more careful when I was a teenager) it would be wise.

Prompt from 401 Prompts for Argumentative Writing At The New York Times

Kerala Coronavirus Numbers Growing Faster

Kerala, once the most successful state in containing the spread of the novel Coronavirus epidemic, has been adding relatively large number of cases for several weeks now. On Wednesday, the state detected more than 2,000 cases in a day for the first time, and simultaneously reached 50,000-figure for confirmed cases. In the last one month, the number of confirmed cases has grown by almost four times, at a rate which is among the fastest in India. Even now, at 4.01 per cent per day it is growing much faster than the national rate. In fact, amongst the states with high caseloads, those with more than 20,000 confirmed cases, only Punjab has higher growth rate than Kerala right now.

The death count has also increased substantially in the last few weeks, though the state still has one of the lowest fatality rates in the country, at least amongst the major states. So far, deaths of 225 Coronavirus positive patients have been recorded but, the state says, 43 of these had happened due to other reasons, and are not being counted as Covid-19 deaths. Coronavirus cases in Kerala had begun to grow after the travel restrictions had been eased for the first time in the first week of May. Most of the new cases at that time were those coming back from other states or foreign countries.

Nearly half a million people are estimated to have returned to Kerala in the last two months. Even now, about one fourth of the total confirmed cases in the state are those who have a history of inter-state or international travel. But the infection has spread amongst the local population as well, and Kerala was one of the first states to acknowledge community transmission, at least in the coastal districts which are the worst affected. Besides Kerala, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh also recorded their single day highs on Wednesday. Uttar Pradesh crossed the 5000-mark for the first time, while Maharashtra breached the 13,000-figure.

Vlog # 10 Live Post Coronavirus – Will We Go Into Another Lockdown?

Vlog # 10 Live Post Coronavirus – Will We Go Into Another Lockdown? – other than a quick 90 minute venture for some errands to get some money from my bank, go to the head post office to collect some packages and a funny update from a former-colleague and friend of mine who got a new cushy & well paying job.

Coronavirus Restrictions To Be For 1 Year

As per updates, the Kerala government has decided to bring in new guidelines, regulations for the prevention of Covid-19. Thr restrictions to Remain in Place For Next 1 Year.

1) All people in the state must wear face mask or face cover in public places. Wearing mask in workplaces is also a must in the state.

2) All must maintain strict social distance at public place.

3) Maximum 50 people are allowed to attend marriage celebrations in Kerala.

4) Maximum 20 people will be permitted for funeral in the state.

5) Special permission from local authority will be required for people to hond or attend large gathering.

6) Spitting in public places is strictly prohibited and will be treated as punishable offence.

7) People travelling to Kerala from other states need to register themselves on Kerala government’s Jagratha e-platform.

8 ) Maximum 20 people will be allowed at any shops across the state.

Work @ Home Extended Again

I got the news late last night after a long day at work and while I was lying in bed and trying to watch some Agents Of SHIELD. A colleague in my team messaged me and asked if I had read the news shared in an announcement email sent by our country head. I hadn’t since I had shut down my system at 11pm and so I got the info that they have declared that those of us who are currently working from home (having got systems from the office) will continue to work from home until December 31st, 2020! They will look at the situation after a while and see if they can make a change but it does not look likely.

In the current situation, as the number of infected people starts going up in India and even in my state and city. I just heard that with 241 fresh cases, Kerala has registered a new Covid 19 peak on Saturday with the coronavirus situation taking a turn for worse in state capital Thiruvananthapuram and port city of Kochi. A worried Indian Medical Association (IMA), Kerala chapter has asked the state government to enforce a strict lockdown in containment areas and restrict movement of people to avert community spread. Saturday’s tally is the biggest single-day spike in the state since the outbreak in January. The total number of cases registered so far in the state has gone up to 5,204. 3,050 of these patients have recovered leaving 2,129 active cases. The state has recorded 25 deaths to the disease so far, said chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s office.

The fact that the source of infection is unknown in many cases has worried the state government. The CM said that since the disease was spreading both in urban and rural areas, stricter cubs will be needed to contain it. The government is toying with the idea of enforcing a targeted confinement and triple lockdown in some of the worst-hit areas to check the spread of the contagion. Triple lockdown, a measure considered stricter than curfew allowing only police personnel’s movement, did wonders in containing the spread of the disease in Kasaragod in north Kerala earlier.

India’s Lockdown Extended Till May 3

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi has extended a nationwide lockdown until 3 May to contain the spread of the coronavirus. The announcement comes on what was to be the last day of the initial lockdown, which began on 25 March. India has reported 8,988 active cases and 339 deaths so far. Under the lockdown, only essential businesses – such as groceries and pharmacies – are allowed to remain open. City transport services are limited to emergency staff and those with special travel passes. All trains and flights have been suspended.

Modi suggested that the rules could tighten further over the next week, but he did not give more details. He said the government will issue “guidelines” soon. He added that the federal and state governments will be watching potential hotspots closely, and will evaluate every district in a week’s time to determine if restrictions can be eased anywhere. India’s grinding lockdown has already caused economic disruption and social distress. It has hurt the economy immensely. Joblessness has risen sharply, according to an independent assessment. India’s already sputtering economy is now expected to grow between 1.5-2.8% in 2020-21, according to the World Bank. Migrant workers, the backbone of key service industries, have either fled their shuttered workplaces or are stranded in homeless centres in cities. The thriving informal economy is in tatters.

Access to food, medicines and emergency medical care for non-Covid-19 patients has become difficult for the poor. The lockdown, says an economist, “seems to be the case of the privileged transferring their epidemic risk to the under-privileged”. There is no doubt that lifting the lockdown at a time when India is seeing a rise in infections and trying to catch up on testing, can be risky. At the same time, it is also abundantly clear that India will have to ease the lockdown to save the economy and livelihoods of people.

Covid-19 : Kerala Update 09-0-2020

Well it looks like the lockdown will continue for a while.Describing the COVID-19 pandemic as an “unprecedented” public health crisis in recent history, a Kerala government-appointed task force has pitched for a “phased” and “calibrated” lifting of the national lockdown, saying “time is not yet ripe” for its full withdrawal from April 14.Continuing restriction of large scale movement of people across international and state boundaries was critical and easing it should not be considered unless and until the situation was under control in every state, it suggested. However, the panel said it also felt that prolonged and stringent lockdown would lead to economic hardship, famine and law and order problems, which could undermine both the lockdown and the health management objectives. On Tuesday the state would be able to chart its future course of action only after knowing the Centre’s decision on the 21-day lockdown, imposed to check the spread of the deadly virus.

A phased withdrawal would be sustainable only if there was a steady recovery and decline in the number of cases leading to initial flattening of the infection curve and then gradual tapering of the curve to zero infection cases. The government should advise people of the state that in the event of a resurgence, they should be ready and willing to undergo the rigours of a complete lockdown once again, it said. It suggested that the unit for operationalising a phased withdrawal approach should be a district as it had defined boundaries and an executive magistrate who had the authority to effectively enforce the measures of the phased lockdown.

We might also see, as per the suggestions, wearing masks in public, limiting the number of passengers in public buses to one-third of the capacity of the vehicle, and rapid testing and screening of those who return to Kerala once the state’s borders are reopened. A draft action plan compiled by a 17-member task force has suggested continuing with strict restrictions on commercial, industrial, religious and cultural activity in seven hotspot districts that cover half of Kerala, where the risk of infection is higher. The administration does not believe that major revenue making avenues, such as tourism, alcohol, jewellery and lottery sales, will return to normal functioning anytime soon.

Covid-19 : India Update

The number of the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, cases crossed 900 in India with the death toll rising to 19, according to the Union Health Ministry. According to the data, the number of active COVID-19 cases in the country stood at 775, while 78 people were either cured or discharged and one had migrated. The number of coronavirus cases increased to 61 in Uttar Pradesh today after 11 people tested positive for the disease, a senior health official said. The total number of COVID-19 patients in the state is at 181 after 28 new patients found positive today. Till now, a total of 26 patients have recovered or discharged. 104 tests found negative for COVID-19.

India’s trajectory is flatter than that of the US, which is the new global epicentre of Covid-19, with confirmed cases surpassing China. Yet, given the volatility in India’s daily data over the past few days, it is too early to say whether the current trajectory will sustain, rise, or flatten in the coming days. Even going by the current trajectory, India’s case count has doubled over the past four days. If this trajectory continues, the number of cases could shoot up to 10,000 cases over the next 16 days, and India could run out of hospital beds in May.

At 162, Kerala leads in terms of the number of active cases of Covid-19. Active cases exclude deaths and recoveries from the list of confirmed cases. Maharashtra has the second most number of active cases (150), followed by Karnataka (50). At 47 active cases, Telangana has the fourth-highest number of active cases, followed closely by Rajasthan (45). In the north-east, two states have reported Covid-19 cases so far: Manipur and Mizoram, with 1 confirmed case each in both states. Other north-eastern states have not reported any case so far. Jharkhand hasn’t reported any confirmed case either. Kasargod district (45 cases) has reported the most number of cases in Kerala.

Sunday Shutdown Due To Corona Virus

The state of Kerala is on self-imposed 14 -hour Janata curfew is total in the state when three hours of self-isolation has been completed. The curfew began at 7 am and will end at 9 pm. However now it’s been extended till 5am MOnday. All the roads were seen empty in the state and people are busy cleaning their houses as part of containing the Covid-19 spread. All the transport services including KSRTC  kept off the roads and all the shops except emergency services were seen locked. Private taxi and autorickshaws also joined the curfew.  In the front of Secretariat, the agitators also left home giving solidarity to the Union and state governments to combat the disease threat.

I haven’t heard a single vehicle all day long (it’s 6:15 pm now) and I haven’t even heard a single other person other than my parents who I live with. The train services were also cut shortened. In Kochi, the metro rail services are not operating as it already informed that they will not operate on Sunday. However, the government has issued strict instructions to ensure that essential services shouldn’t be hit. The chief minister has said that delivery of milk and water shouldn’t be interrupted and hospital canteens, including those in private hospitals, should remain open throughout Sunday. Petrol pumps would also remain open. The curfew was called by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan had said that the state government would also join to the curfew as part of the collective effort to combat the threat of virus.

As the day progressed, both the Centre and States took slew of measures to contain the contagion that has already claimed 7 lives even as the number of infected nears 350. While the Center announced suspension of inter-state passenger train and bus services till March 31, Delhi’s CM announced a lockdown from 6AM Monday till midnight of March 31.

RIP Sonam Sherpa

I just found out that Sonam Sherpa (8 October 1971 – 14 February 2020) who was lead guitarist & founding member of Indian band Parikrama, died on Friday. According to reports, the musician, who was in Kurseong to record music for an upcoming movie, suffered a massive cardiac arrest.

Sherpa joined Parikrama at its inception in 1991. He remained as the lead guitarist in the band until his death. Sherpa was featured on CNBC’s Young Turks, a show focusing on young entrepreneurs. The BBC also featured him and his band in a rockumentary while on their Download Festival Tour. He took steps in the Indian film industry (Bollywood) by composing the songs and music for the feature film “Manjunath” a collaboration with Nitin Malik and Subir Malik (both from Parikrama). The music of the film received a rating of 2.5 stars from Times of India. Sherpa owned and ran Parikrama school based at Hauz Khas Village, New Delhi.

While not a fan of Parikarama (I just didn’t listen to that much of their songs) Sonam could really play on the guitar and he won awards for his blues & rock based playing. He will be missed.

7 More Strange Things In India

8. Highest gold consumption in the world

849 metric tonnes of gold is consumed in India every year. The reason for this consumption is marriages and festivals.

9. Tallest statue in the world

India holds the record of possessing world’s largest statue that stands at a height of 182 meters and is known as “statue of unity”. The government spent INR 3000 crores for its construction. The interesting fact about the construction of statue is that around 3000 metric tonnes of iron was collected from all over India specially from villages but later it was cleared that those iron pieces were not used in the construction of the main project but for other parts of the project.

10. ID’s for cows

Wait! what? ID’s for cows? Yes, you read it right. In the West Bengal state of India, cows have their own ID cards this step was taken by the Indian border guards who photographed the cows in West Bengal so as to stop the smuggling of cattle to neighbouring Bangladesh

11. Six seasons

India is known to the world as the land of festivals but do you know no other country except India has 6 seasons a year. According to the Hindu scriptures, the 6 seasons are :

Vasant Ritu: Spring ( Feb-April)

Grishma Ritu: Summer (April- June)

Varsha Ritu: Monsoon ( June – August)

Sharad Ritu: Autumn ( August – October)

Hemant Ritu: Prewinter ( October – December)

Shishir or Shita Ritu: Winter ( December – Feb)

12. Home for most polluted cities

India stands at the first position in the list of world’s most polluted countries. The cities which are most polluted are Kanpur, Faridabad, Gaya, Varanasi, Delhi and the list does not end here. The fact that is scary and worth of your consideration is that the people living in Delhi are most prone to pollution and sources say that breathing in Delhi is equal to smoking 44 cigarettes a day. This literally scars me.

13. Largest Hub for spices

India is the largest producer of spices and produces more than 50 spices including chilli, turmeric, cumin and pepper. The interesting stuff here to notice is that the pepper is also used as a non-lethal weapon by the Indian Army. The armed forces use chilli grenade made up of chilli spices in a weaponized form.

14. Low divorce rate

The divorce rate in India is very low and the reason for this could be that people of India consider marriages a bond that does not break even after death. They believe that the person you marry should be your only partner throughout life. Getting divorced also creates an unhealthy image of that person in society.

7 Strange Things In India

1. Policemen are paid for keeping moustaches

The tradition of keeping long moustaches in India seems very pleasant. People from rural India have been following this tradition for long but do you know that in an Indian state policemen are paid INR 33 per month for keeping moustaches. The police chief in that state hit upon this idea because he observed people giving respect to policemen having moustaches and treating them pleasantly.

2. The nine unknown men

Have you ever heard about the nine unknown men? well, it is one of the biggest mysteries of the Indian subcontinent till date. The nine unknown men resemble a secret group of nine people which was created by the emperor Ashoka in 226 BC. The purpose of this secret society was to create, preserve and spread knowledge and to make sure that every creature lives peacefully, enjoys security and happiness. The identity of those men was kept a secret.

3. Magnetic hill of Ladakh

You must have planned to visit Ladakh because of its enchanting beauty but let me tell you one mysterious as well as the strange thing that exists in the beautiful area of Ladakh. “ Magnetic hill of Ladakh” it is called so because it pulls the vehicle up which are within its range because of a strong magnetic force that exists there. In fact, many Indian Air Force planes have diverted their routes because of this interference.

4. India has a spa just for elephants

Elephants are so lucky! There is an elephant camp located in Kerala where elephants enjoy a luxurious life and are massaged and cleaned by the locals there.

5. The largest number of veg in the world

Indians prefer veg Food over non-veg and this statement is backed by a report which stated that 31% Indians are vegetarians this is because people in India believe that no creature should be harm for our own personal pleasure and they follow the practice of ahimsa (non-violence) which means respecting the lives of other creatures.

6. World’s biggest gathering- Kumbh Mela

Kumbh Mela is the world’s biggest gathering where people from all over the globe gather and take a dip in the holy river, Ganga, as they believe that doing this will wash away all their sin. There are four Kumbh Mela: the Haridwar Kumbh Mela, the Prayag Kumbh Mela, Nashik simhastha and Ujjain simhastha. The interesting thing about the Kumbh Mela is that 75 million people gathered for Kumbh Mela in2011 and the crowd was so large that it was visible from space.

7. 31 doctors in a single family

Jaipur is famous for forts, right? But after reading the next few lines you will get to know what you can expect from Jaipur besides forts. A family in Jaipur consists of 31 doctors, there are 7 physicians, 5 gynecologists, 3 ophthalmologists, 3 ENT specialists, neurologists, urologists, surgeons, psychiatrists, pathologist and orthopaedic doctors in the family!

Some Weird Laws In India

  • In Maharashtra, you can vote, have sex and get married by the time you’re 18. But you can’t drink hard liquor until you’re 25.
  • In another ridiculous law, the Indian Aircraft Act of 1934 considers a kite to also be an aircraft thus making it necessary to get a permit to fly one. As is apparent, this law has never been followed and should be dealt away with immediately.
  • You need to have a perfect set of teeth to become a motor inspector in Andhra Pradesh.
  • It is illegal for more than 10 couples to dance on a dance floor.
  • Suicide is legal, but attempted suicide is not.
  • Adultery is illegal, but only the man will be penalised for the crime.
  • The Indian Post Office is the be all and end all of delivery. According to the Indian Post Office Act, 1898, it is illegal to send letters through any other service apart from the Indian Post Office.
  • It’s OK for people to kill themselves in India. However, if they fail, they can be prosecuted according to the Indian Penal Code.

Kerala & The Beef Burger

Well, it’s been a debate that has been going on for many years and will continue to be debated and argued for a long, long time. “Indians do not eat beef” – is what most foreigners think about our dietary habits. Not true! Heck, a lot of Indians also think the same thing. Not true! And when they see us Keralites or some others in India or maybe a few metro cities or the 7 North Eastern states, some of them – the normal ones – shrug it off as a cultural difference and never have a problem with it but some others – the fanatic assholes – start abusing us verbally and shout at us for not being real Indians.

Stupidity aside, Kerala, West Bengal and North-eastern states such as Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Tripura and Sikkim. In Manipur, a royal edict banned cow slaughter, but beef is consumed widely. Now, what I find funny is that international brands like McDonald’s, Burger King, Taco Bell etc cannot have beef products in India and Kerala. Instead they have chicken and veggie options. But if you are in Kerala – well I can say for Cochin in particular since I live here – you can eat beef burgers in various places. The Burger Junction, Double Roti, The Grill Lab, Burger Spot, Burger Queen, Burger Hut & Burger Hutz, Chai Kofi, Mash 24, Westley’s (former known as Burgeria) among others all serve beef burgers and some even have pork. No problem in getting our fill of beef burgers over here!

In terms of the best I would say that The Burger Junction is the most awesome with Double Roti come in at second place. The Grill lab is a place that I have only visited once and I would love to try more of their food but I guess they would rank high.