An Indian got a gold mask made to protect himself from coronavirus but he is not sure if the virus will still get him.
I do not know what metal mask he got made for his wife, whether she got it embedded with precious stones or diamonds, or whether his children or his parents wear any masks at all, but the news report shows him wearing it on his face like a decadent ruler from way back in history.
The man spent about Rupees 4 lakhs ($4000) on the mask, and it has tiny holes in it that allows him to breathe. He said he also takes other precautions. It was not reported, what other precautions.
I am not a medical expert or a virologist, but even I know that the minuscule virus can get funneled into the tiny holes in the mask and as they are creeping their way into his trachea, the whole unit would look back and shout in amazement, ‘Was that a gold mask we went through’?
If I was wearing a gold mask and walking on an Indian road, I would make sure that it comes off easily if someone mugs me, and nobody has to cut off my ears to snatch it and run. I am also sure my wife would never come with me for our daily walks if I wore a gold mask.
Many Muslim men do not adorn their bodies with gold. But you can show off in a subtle manner, by adorning your shirt with a gold nib pen, or by wearing a wrist watch with a platinum strap, or quite simply by parking a yacht in the harbour or a Lamborghini in the garage.
In India, gold jewelery is mostly kept in safe deposit lockers and taken out whenever there is a wedding, or there is a death in the family, and the estate lawyer or the grandmother hands it over to the bewildered daughter of the house.
I visited one of the privately-run vaults in a quiet neighbourhood in New Delhi. The security guard at the entrance greeted me with both hands folded together and bending slightly from the waist, in a ‘namaste’.
(The ‘namaste’ is incidentally, the new way of greeting by many European leaders including French President Emmanuel Macron, after Brit PM Boris Johnson nearly cashed in his chips after shaking hands and mingling in crowds).
There was a lift attached to the railing that takes you down the few number of steps if you are incapacitated. Dowagers come and go and speak loudly and scamper around with heavy looking bags.
With so much gold in private hands, the Indian government offered a bond scheme many times, that it would take the gold from you and offer a reasonably good amount of interest for it. But sheesh, who wants paper and who can trust the government, especially after the nightmarish demonitisation.
It is usually the real estate overlords that flash their gold in India. These guys have fingers full of rings, heavy gold chains around the neck, ear ring on the left ear, but many wear khadi (the coarse cloth that was spun by Mahatma Gandhi during the fight for independence to offset the imports from the Brit cloth mills).
Meanwhile our gold-masked businessman from the western city of Pune, also likes to adorn himself with jewelery when he goes out.
You now have to wear a face mask in public places in India as the coronavirus infection spreads across the country. But I am sure the government has not made wearing gold masks mandatory.
— Mahmood Saberi is a storyteller and blogger based in Bengaluru, India. Twitter: @mahmood_saberi