OPN 200423 MASK-1587631565596
A cop checks the body temperature of a visitor in Delhi during a government-imposed nationwide lockdown as a preventive measure against the COVID-19 coronavirus Image Credit: AFP

My niece, a fashionista, put up a picture of herself on Facebook, wearing — what else — a fashionable mask, the design of which matched her trendy dress.

Ever since experts advocated the use of masks as a virus-protection gear, they are the most sought-after items next to food. I hear in some countries, they are just not available for either love or money.

Even doctors, those who work on the front line, the Covid-warriors, often have to wear makeshift masks in some nations. This face-protection gear is kept under lock and key, or so I am told, and given only when needed.

We’ve come a long, long way from the masquerade balls of the past, where masks and fancy dresses were worn at parties by the upper classes


After use, it is carefully discarded so that no ‘mask scavenger’ can find it and re-sell it on the market. We’re indeed living in strange times, where masks are the hottest items in demand.

On social media, we are inundated with videos of how to make masks, many of them very innovative. One of them shows how to make one out of a plastic folder, the one where you slip in an important paper.

Just slide a plastic hair band through the holes at the side of the folder, and voila — you have a protective mask which covers your entire face, forehead to chin.

No sneaky virus

It is a transparent visor through which you can see and breathe, but no sneaky virus dares ever enter.

And then there’s the one you make out of a sock.

All you have to do is to cut off the heel part of the sock, then cut down one inch or so from each side, not all the way through but three-fourths of the way down, insert a tissue between the two sides of the sock and then wear it over your face.

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The two bits you’ve cut out are the bands that hold the mask in place and inserted behind the ear. I guess this is a good way of making a mask, only make sure you don’t use an old, smelly sock but a new one or a freshly washed one!

One of the more interesting pieces I saw was a ‘branded’ mask, with Prada and Gucci prominently displayed.

These were made from the dust-bags in which these handbags are stored when not in use, but were now cut up into stylish masks.

Of course, this seems inappropriate in these times, when people are losing their lives because they hadn’t been protected by a mask. But the inventor reassures us that, far from being outrageous, these were actually just making use of scrap material.

Yet another innovator shows us how to make a mask for those wearing spectacles. This one is more like a balaclava, but requires a deft twisting and tying of the material, which leaves your eyes free.

Protection gear

We’ve come a long, long way from the masquerade balls of the past, where masks and fancy dresses were worn at parties by the upper classes. These were worn for enjoyment, and to have a bit of fun — not like now, where they are worn for protection.

Someone once sent me an image of a “Nita Ambani” mask. Nita Ambani is the wife of India’s richest industrialist, and her mask, naturally, is studded with diamonds and precious gems, as if it’s a jewellery piece.

Now, I don’t know if Madame Ambani really wears such a mask, but my question would be — does it keep out the virus?

And that, my dear reader, is the simple function of a mask. You may prefer an ordinary one or a branded one, or, if you are in the same league as the Ambanis, perhaps a jewelled one.

But my message to you is — stay safe, and when you are forced to leave your house for whatever reason, make sure you’re wearing your mask.

Padmini B. Sankar is a Dubai-based freelance writer. Twitter: @paddersatdubai