While some countries have banned me and my wife from entering for some time, our community has banned our maid which is much more disastrous to our well-being and self-esteem.
Disastrous because Bas’amma has perfected the art of making stuffed ‘paneer’ and potato ‘paratha’ that are flaky, crispy and satisfying and go perfectly with a dollop of mango pickle and a cup of tea, as you sip and masticate and wait for things to change in these pandemic times.
But now I am reduced to boiling oats and adding cut fruits and cheerfully lying that I am eating healthy and how yummy glutinous oats is, which I presume is only fed to people who break the curfew during the lock down, after they are beaten up by the authorities.
I looked up mashed.com on how to make this slimy, pasty, gluey thing taste better, and one online site suggested adding a pinch of salt, green tea when boiling, and to add coconut water.
But I digress, a couple of weeks back everything was going fine and according to plan. We had managed to get our second jab, as vaccination is called in newspaper headlines here, because it fits the word count in a single column, and the boring word vaccination, turns into a verb, and makes it sound exciting like you are someone in a spy novel.
(Rey felt a pinprick jab in his upper right arm and he quickly turned and looked at the nurse wearing a face mask. “Wait 15 minutes in that room,” she said mysteriously, pointing somewhere across the long, white, corridor that seemed endless. She was holding a syringe in her blue gloved hand. Rey held on tightly to the medical trolley next to him to push himself on to his feet but ...).
Anyway, to cut a long story short, as my wife says whenever I try to interrupt her when she is speaking, Canada, our second home (that we visit only in the bright, clear, sunny days of summers) said it had extended the ban on international flights coming from India because of a toxic double mutation variant of the virus that we cannot name, and is known only as B. 1.617 in diplomatic and scientific circles.
Then the chief minister of Karnataka state, where we are, decided to extend the partial lockdown to a full-scale shutdown, because reportedly half the Indian population do not wear masks properly or they jump into a lake to escape the medical team visiting the villages to give them vax shots, like it happened in UP state. Really.
But all this did not faze my wife, but when her maid was banned from entering the gated community then it was, ‘battle stations, everyone’. “What is the logic in this. She is working in the community next door, but can’t come here?” she said.
Harmless and affable
Just to give you a heads-up about housing associations in India, they are as autocratic as some governments are, but when you meet them personally, they seem like a harmless and affable bunch of people.
The ban on maids was because people in our community, one by one, started testing positive and were going into home-quarantine. The association quickly declared the community off-limits to everyone else before the state declared it a “containment zone”.
My wife believes it is unfair to the maids because the residents themselves were the ones breaking the rules, having parties and getting infected.
She is even willing to declare publicly that she is an elderly person and needs the maid to help navigate the vagaries of life.
I am also trying to shamelessly declare myself aged and decrepit as I love the maid’s parathas.
Mahmood Saberi is a storyteller and blogger based in Bengaluru, India. Twitter: @mahmood_saberi