Not self but imposed-isolation - Day 2: COVID-19

March 22, 2020 - Sunday

COVID-19: Not self but imposed isolation - Day 2 

OCD took over once again ... washed the balcony with that amazing Scotch Bright wiper once again ... ahhh! We had water.

Cleaned the room ... mopped the floor with that ah-mazing lemon Dettol surface cleaner ... bloody OCD!

Cleaned all bird cages as two of my conures yelled, 'Baby' in chorus ... cheapsters.

Took my lorikeet out and gave him a shower as he mimicked the sound of pouring water. He then bit me and yelled, 'No biting! Kaato nahi!' ... loser!

I then left the full-of-notorious-energy-bird near Coco for a few seconds ... Rainbow, I call him. The loser playfully bit Coco, much to her horror. 'Kaat rahi ho!' exclaimed Coco.

Eventually I took Rainbow back to his cage, that colourful little devil.

I let Coco out, we kissed each other ... inhaled her feather dust and realised that she as well needs to be bathed. Got her washed up. She was happy. 'Shower time' she had been saying  every time I had been entering the bathroom.

Took my watercolour stuff out of the cabinet ... the client called for Corona updates. I completed the report, realised that all provinces are behaving like countries within a country ... never on the same page! Hmph!


Self-isolation Day 1 - COVID-19

How's isolation coming along for you folks so far? It's playing tricks on my mind by now, considering my depleting coffee reserves. Anyway, I have started maintaining a log of what's been happening since day 1 of isolation and work's been keeping me busy as well thanks to all these Corona updates but it's good to have work although from home.

Here we go ...

March 21, 2020 - Saturday

COVID-19: Self-isolation, Day 1

Woke up to Coco's evil laughter and constant salaams.   

Got ready to conquer the world this fine Saturday ... soon OCD settled in!  

Inaugurated the awesome wiper I purchased during last week's panic buying. 

OCD continued penetrating within ... washed the balcony and much to my satisfaction happily stared at a few litres of dirty water pouring out of the pipe ... woohoo! 

Wiped almost every surface with a muslin cloth and disinfectant spray. 

Watered my 'finally thirsty' cacti and arranged them with respect to their thorny demeanour.

Mentally made a list of books to read.

Coco continued laughing, 'Ha! Ha! Ha!'.

Felt my throat getting itchy ... paranoia took over ...

For an evil moment I thought ... well I went for a client meeting 3 days ago, I am not alone, ha! But then sanity prevailed ... I'm fine, they're fine, we're all fine but we're all in this together ... work from home kind of situation and apocalypse outside.

Did a wee bit of client work before reminding myself that it's Saturday ... Saturdays are off my dear.

For some odd reason, spent the rest of the evening feeling agitated and frustrated.

Read a post on a Facebook group that asked to mention how you felt, followed by the last thing you ate ... Apparently, I was a 'frustrated biscuit'.

Still wanted a punching bag ... but in vain.

Did some knitting and watched a movie to distract myself from all the Corona news ... but then WhatApp!

Looked at the essential items that I bought before the lockdown, in admiration ... paint brushes, canvases, some more cacti plants ... bird food!

Felt sad about my depleting coffee reserve ... gained sympathies from friends on Facebook! :P

The dogs howled in chorus at night and continued amidst their 'kutta raj', there was no human outside to continue culling them ... life continued though not usually for humans so to speak ...



Tales and Tails of Nehr-e-Khayyam - Episode 10

The Case of Corona & Doggy Kingdom

The streets of the city and those of most of the country were deserted, pollution was down to negligible levels, the air and the sea never appeared as fresh as they appeared in this very moment of their freedom, albeit human imprisonment. Life in water and that in the air was charismatically celebrating human absence!

The streets may have been deserted by humans but they were taken over by stray animals; cats and dogs with their litter of cute little puppies that would not face extinction, at least not for the next 15 days of THE LOCKDOWN! No one would have ever thought that the world would be hit by another pandemic after the Spanish Flu of 1920 that infected 500 million people. Thankfully, this one was not as deadly. In fact human stupidity wants to outweigh the strength of the virus but then everyone got confined to their own homes which now appeared to be eating humans outside-in as their frustration sought an outlet, inside-out. In simple words the lockdown meant, ‘STAY THE HELL AT HOME … Thank you!’ and was announced for the amelioration of people race, most of which did not seem to care unless the virus came knocking on their own doors.

The government was trying its best to curtail the virus but some provinces were in denial and all were acting like countries within a country, with their own set of rules.

“I have never felt as free and in control of my own life … it’s like we have ‘kutta raaj prevailing now and we can bite anyone who comes out of their homes, without fearing what the consequences would be for us,” said Doggo giggled his innocence away.

“Do not underestimate human stupidity, my friend, for now it has been temporarily leashed. During the lockdown, some will start biting each other, likening each other with our species, calling each other ‘KUTTAY’. Some will become better intellectuals, but most … most will realise they had no hobbies but eating out and being slaves of a routine, and then becoming couch potatoes in front of Netflix,” explained Kuttay, ‘You see, these folks foretell about such pandemics and call it fiction, decades later the same fiction becomes current affairs. Sane ones have self-isolated themselves until sanity prevails, some infected ones are trying to run away from their confinement, thus making those around vulnerable.”

“Why so bitter, Kuttay? They give us food …” whined Doggo, “We still like them, let’s hope all of this gets over soon. Economies are collapsing … Not all human kids throw stones at us …”

“That is the problem! None of them should be doing this. None of them should be fighting for toilets rolls! None of them should be hoarding food supplies! And none of them should be selling essential items at exorbitant rates when the demand increases! Most of them are opportunists … look at us! We eat without knowing what we will get the next day, not because we are dogs but because that’s the way of nature … equilibrium … and when you try to disrupt it, nature avenges such beings.”

“Damn! What have you read recently?” inquired Doggo.

“Read Albert Camus’s Plague that he wrote in 1947, it’s like a prophecy, he knew it was coming! Stephen King’s Stand seems to have almost the same stance … It’s like 2020 is the year of Albert Camus, Stephen King, Geroge Orwell, Aldous Huxley … they are narrating this year! Their ghosts are penning down the news … with the exception of King of course, he’s probably a journalist working for them … live in the moment lest you regret it one day …”

Doggo almost fell asleep listening to this speech. “Well, we also live in the fear of being culled the very next moment but look at this! Read this!” exclaimed he and his naïve little existence produced a copy of Naala Leaks where the headline read:

Citing worst hit nations, the column mentioned that no one feared the virus, and everyone thought it won’t affect them until it did because people refused to stay home, thinking they had perfect immune systems. The reporter concluded mentioning a few lines from Albert Camus’s novel, ‘Plague’:

“On the whole, men are more good than bad; that, however, isn't the real point. But they are more or less ignorant, and it is this that we call vice or virtue; the most incorrigible vice being that of an ignorance that fancies it knows everything and therefore claims for itself the right to kill. The soul of the murderer is blind; and there can be no true goodness nor true love without the utmost clear-sightedness.”

Here ignorant people are those who refuse to stay indoors defying the imminent threat that surrounds them and hence are potential murderers.

Tales and Tails of Nehr-e-Khayyam - Episode 9

Happiness & Murder

“What makes you happy? What really is happiness?” asked Doggo while licking Naalaito (Haw?!? You don’t know what that is? Really? Refer to episode 7 please).

Kuttay turned around, took a deep breath and exhaled for what seemed like eternity and said, “Happiness is the smell of a book, a walk in an art shop … it is the smell of a freshly mopped floor, or knowing that there is sufficient water available in a water scarce society. Happiness is being able to witness the sunrise and also the sunset as it goes down the horizon … and being at the beach at the same time … and listening to the sounds of the crashing waves, that’s happiness! Happiness is a long walk in the forest and being able to clear your head as you walk, soaking your senses in petrichor. And … ah! Dessert … dessert is true love! Anything that can be defined as true love is happiness, though everlasting love does not exist; that my friend, you must bear in mind. Everything has an EXPIRY DATE. And of course, a cuppa hot coffee is happiness, although coffee prices are skyrocketing too which means that’s a paradoxical situation. Democracy as you will see does not want us to be happy! It wants to rate us … and so far it has rated us as third class citizens … they’ve done this to humans and let’s not even forget that we are dogs …”

Having found Doggo dozing off after this long lecture, Kuttay was infuriated and kicked him so hard that he went spiraling down in Nehr-e-Khayyam; for a moment it was as if he’s got wings. “Go say hello to the mermaids!” said Kuttay, already disgruntled about foreign tourists being able to avail this facility just because they were paying in Dollars and helping the county earn foreign exchange.

Within seconds, Doggo resurfaced panicking his life out. “Looks like you’ve seen a ghost. I’m certain it wasn’t a mermaid that would have freaked you out. So tell me what thwarted thee,” enquired Kuttay.

“I think I saw a dead human, there was handsfree tied around his neck with words written in blood on his shirt that read something about the victim and his WhatsApp voice notes!” explained Doggo.

“What was the colour of his blood?” asked Kuttay, “How come it didn’t get washed out? Who can commit murder in such a heavily monitored society?” He was of course, flabbergasted and moved by such a rare crime.

“I think the colour kept changing as if the murder had been committed by the Canterville Ghost (Oscar Wilde), this time, along the banks of Nehr-e-Khayyam!!!” said Doggo, trying to make sense of it all.

“Once upon a time, especially in the 90s, dead bodies used to be packed in sacks. Now who would dump a human in the absence of proper packaging? Is this the extent of going plastic free now?” mentioned Kuttay in a manner of a rhetorical question. No-bhai-no-sack-situation seemed much thought provoking indeed, as Kuttay read out Oscar Wilde’s words aloud:

“Death must be so beautiful. To lie in the soft brown earth, with the grasses waving above one's head, and listen to silence. To have no yesterday, and no tomorrow. To forget time, to forgive life, to be at peace ...”

Given the crystal clear water of Nehr-e-Khayyam, one could see the dead body conspicuously lying in its depths. Both dogs alerted the authorities about what they saw as they whimpered all doe-eyed and pointed towards the perished human. As a reward, they were given a Naalaito each, although it was no longer a prized possession post imports of organic tomatoes from Iran. Iran really did rescue the helpless chicken karhai for us Pakistanis, didn’t it? Irani petrol was already routing its way in Balochistan through grey channels, this time all channels were up for some tomato loving.

The next day Naala Leaks’ front page brandished the headline, blatantly mentioning: “Dead body found in NeK, Cause of death cited as sending countless WhatsApp voice notes”

Apparently the murderer, a rather frustrated ‘routine based person’ had left a waterproof, hand written note, explaining why they did what they did. This included being sent unnecessary and daily dozen voice notes on WhatsApp when typing could have been a better alternative and thus questioned whether the now-dead-person didn’t have fingers to type. Hence, all his fingers were missing to prove that he really had no other option than to send voice notes and the murderer had no other option than to murder him as he/she felt their personal workspace being invaded through voice notes which could have been typed notes instead … not-such-a-LOL-situation now! The offender therefore thought it wise to asphyxiate the victim with their own handsfree that was used to listen to those good-for-nothing voice notes. The person also expressed remorse for parting ways with an original handsfree.

“Remember, Doggo … everything has an expiry date, every relationship too has it besides having its limits to begin with. God knows what this person’s relationship with the victim was but it seems profound,” said Kuttay, “Sometimes relationships expire while two people are still living while other times, these have quite a posthumous disposition, meaning only death parts them and ends relationships.”

“You sound like a writer today; it seems as if Naala Leaks will designate for you a column on a weekly basis for stories under ‘Murder he wrote’ or ‘Murder his canine-ness wrote.”

“You are too naïve to understand life, my friend,” said Kuttay, “Just remember what Charles Bukowski explained - "What makes a man a writer?" "Well," I said, "it's simple. You either get it down on paper, or jump off a bridge.”

Tales and Tails of Nehr-e-Khayyam - Episode 8

Fazlu is in the air …


White-throated kingfisher found at Nehr-e-Khayyam (well, supposedly)

Nehr-e-Khayyam was overshadowed by the thick smog that took over most parts of the country like a memory of a deceased loved one still lingering on because you couldn’t meet them one last time while they were still living. Breathing in was difficult, yet breathing was inevitable … everyone was going to die anyway … sooner or later!

The morbidity level of the lines above is as toxic as the air quality index aggravated by smog … the purple level (yes please Google it! Thank you).

Moving on, the presence of Nehr-e-Khayyam still made it all manageable, thanks to the refreshing vibe and an amazing ambiance its existence brought forth.

“Fazlu is in the air, every newspaper I pick around,
Fazlu is in the air, like the smog toxicity around.
And I don’t know if he’s being foolish,
Don’t know if he’s just being mad,
Don’t know if he’s just being himself …
But it's something that I must believe in,

and it's there when I look at your cross section …” sang Doggo (with apologies to John Paul young) while staring at the half eaten, stolen naalaito (naala tomato … oops, canal, you may refer to the last episode to get enlightened about naalaito).

 “Doggo, you silly, silly … SILLY dog! Have you been fooling around with my precious playlist again?!” blurted Kuttay, “He cannot be in the air unless he is a helium balloon which he isn’t … he’s too heavy even for the ground. And that is something that you must believe in!”

“Well, had he been a balloon, could he have exploded? I think he will implode one day, that time is near and let’s just hope it’s not a fissiparous reaction,” said Doggo, “Have you read the news? There is a Fazlu plan B - Fazloob, he’s coming to our metropolis … But there can never again be as charming a stunt as either of the ones pulled out by our ‘BHAI’ … oh those were the days my dear, when all used to live in fear. La, la, la … laaaa.”

As the canal police patrolled the area, they stopped over to check on the designated area where the dogs were. They had information about stolen naalaitoes which they acquired through tracking their RFID chips. Both Doggo and Kuttay had to immediately bury the naalaitoes they had stolen and of course their naaliato RFIDs had been disabled when stolen, which meant there were more thieves who were making hoarding difficult.

In other news, Fazlu had earlier decided to block all highways but the plan went in vain, considering his deprived ‘boyzes’ had decided to play hide-and-seek and got scattered around.

The weekend magazine, ‘Naala Leaks’, in a suicidal attempt once again did a cover story titled, “The chronicles of the establishment and disbandment”. While highlighting Fazlu (not that any physical space is ever enough for him), the anonymous news reporter mentioned that he and his little minions had been blocking highways, thus affecting the revenue generated through the toll tax because of which the last installment of IMF’s loan was being disrupted. The government had therefore decided to sign the so called ‘understanding’ with him based on which he would be allowed to scuba dive in Nehr-e-Khayyam and meet the mermaids there as a recreational activity… much to the horror of those mermaids – poor, pretty, pretty innocuous souls. The inside story revealed that he will try his luck at scuba diving for the first time in his life, have a eureka moment and drown inevitably while the government took measures to contain Tsunami. Meanwhile, the ‘established government’ had sent all of the city’s lifeguards and divers on vacation in Thailand who would have come to save any disrupting object from drowning … oh well, naturally.

“Kuttay, let’s go to the beach, it’s been long … let’s gather our species and just go once and for all! It’s been ages,” said Doggo.

“Doggo darling why don’t you understand the simple facts of life? If you wait to gather your entire contact list, assuming that you will only enjoy in their company then you are wrong. First of all, the plan will keep on getting dragged until you decide to give up and secondly you don’t need an entire tribe to have fun, for you can enjoy even in your own company … your own self-satisfied, self-actualised existence! You don’t need anyone else to make yourself realise that, but your own esteemed self,” explained Kuttay.

“Okay, enough of Maslow here. You want me to become a snob … an introvert?” asked Doggo innocently.

“This is where you’re going wrong, you silly! Introverts and snobs are not synonymous to each other; sometimes even extroverts can be snobs. Well, to tell you the truth, the co-relation lies there more often. You need to be happy with your own self first to be later happy in the company of others. We are ambiverts as humans … err, even dogs I must say. Here, I want to share with you what the Roman emperor, Marcus Aurelius once said:
‘Men seek retreats for themselves - in the country, by the sea, in the hills - and you yourself are particularly prone to this yearning. But all this is quite unphilosophic, when it is open to you, at any time you want, to retreat into yourself. No retreat offers someone more quiet and relaxation than that into his own mind, especially if he can dip into thoughts there which put him at immediate and complete ease ...'"