As we were getting ready to return to Bengaluru after getting stuck at home in freezing Canada, crazy things started occurring; I got nosebleeds on the day of the RT-PCR test.
Then, a stepfather kidnapped his daughter and went into hiding to avoid getting the child vaccinated, and finally, there was a snowstorm warning.
I hoped the pharmacist would not think that I had punched myself in the nose, like the protagonist in the movie, Fight Club, hoping that the blood would give a negative result. When I asked him whether it would impact the result, he said, no.
Already, there were some weird ideas on the internet on how to beat the test results.
Crazy influencers who went on a holiday to Cancun from Canada and went bananas on board, vaping, quaffing beverages and generally making merry, without masks, posted all kinds of misleading information like putting vaseline (on nose) on their Instagram posts.
The reasoning behind this, according to these guys, is that Vaseline has no PH, so it can not show a positive result, which according to medical experts is rubbish. The test needs only a particle of the virus, and some of it would surely get trapped in the Vaseline, said the experts.
(Doctors also warned that applying Vaseline in your nose to beat dryness during winter is not a good idea as in the long run as it could affect the lungs adversely).
Meanwhile, even some misinformed kids got into the act to try and beat the tests and found that soft drinks will show a positive result and therefore, do not have to go to in-class lessons. (And to think psychiatrists and psychologists were expounding on how the lockdown and online classes were playing havoc with the mental condition of many pupils and exacerbating the loneliness).
Some kid in England found that by dipping the test strips of the Lateral Flow Tests (LFT) in orange juice or a cola beverage, shows a false positive on the strip, and a holiday from school. The trick was uncovered by a chemistry teacher.
As the RT-PCR tests were pricier (Canadian dollars 180), scammers got into the act and started selling kits, which basically did nothing. Other scammers would promise to download a negative Covid test result directly on to your smartphone.
While people were taking desperate measures to fool the Canadian system, others openly defied health advise to get vaccinated, saying that it infringes on their rights or their anti-vax beliefs.
It was amazing to see there are so many people of the conservative frame of mind in North America and Europe, the countries that are at the forefront of medical technology that has helped increase the lifespan of man, believe there is a huge conspiracy involved.
An Uber driver of Canadian-Italian lineage, who was playing stirring opera music on his car’s speakers, said he was fed up of living in fear.
When my wife told him a new variant was discovered in France, he said, “Isn’t it strange that when the virus seems to die down, something new always emerges. It is crazy that Canada is going back to summer of 2021,” he said, referring to the new lockdown measures of closing eateries, gyms and schools.
We did not pay much attention to the snowstorm warning and packed our winter boots and puffed jackets and wore our trainers and light clothing for Bengaluru, which was a mistake.
A few minutes in the -14-degree centigrade while trying to get a trolley for our baggage outside the airport, set our hands, ears and face on ‘fire’. The wind chill makes the temperature feel like minus 24, said the weatherman on TV.
Our flight then waited on the runaway while the wings were de-iced. It looked surreal, watching the clouds of steam from our window seat.
Back home finally, after making the connecting flight from Abu Dhabi to wait for us, we arrived In Bengaluru and have gone into self-home-isolation for five days.
It feels just like our vacation in Canada.
Mahmood Saberi is a storyteller and blogger based in Bengaluru, India. Twitter: @mahmood_saberi