A pandemic of hysteric proportions is sweeping the country. The HN bug, a close cousin of the H1N1 virus, is spreading with lightning rapidity, infecting millions in a few weeks. HN is short for Hyperventilating Nutcase, the scientific name for the germ.
This deadly virus first made its appearance in newsrooms, spreading swiftly among journalists already debilitated by exposure to other hyperventilating viruses such as the Michael Jackson death virus and the Rakhi Sawant Swayamvar bug. But the HN germ is a far deadlier strain, often inducing in its victims the belief that the end of the world is nigh. Among newspaper editors, the usual symptom is bloated typefaces. TV newsrooms were the hardest hit, with the virus often announcing its presence by background music from the horror movie The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, while anchors felt an uncontrollable urge to reel off the number of people dying every ten minutes.
It wasn’t long before the virus left the newsroom and started spreading out among the masses, already reeling from a strong bout of economic-crisis-itis. The funny thing about the germ, though, is that it affects people in vastly different ways. For most people, it results in a sudden desire to go out and buy masks. Among politicians in Mumbai, it led to fierce competition between the Shiv Sena, the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena and the ruling alliance on who could close down the most schools. Among academics, there’s a strange tendency to discuss the millions killed in the Spanish flu of 1918, or the Black Death that depopulated Europe in the 14th century.
Sometimes, it takes the form of blaming other people for starting swine flu. The West Bengal government, for instance, wants Mamata Banerjee quarantined indefinitely. Two brothers, both wealthy businessmen, blame each other. “My respected elder brother is a greedy pig. How do we know he’s not responsible for swine flu? Has the Comptroller and Auditor General audited him?” asked the younger tycoon at a press conference. The elder brother retorted, “I am distressed at all this finger pointing. Only the Petroleum Minister can decide whether I am responsible for swine flu.”
Among Pakistani politicians the HN virus has predictably led to another bout of blaming India. “We understand that swine flu in Pakistan was first started by an Indian sneezing across the Wagah border. A reference to that should be included in the Sharm el-Sheikh declaration,” said a Pakistani government spokesman.
The key question is: how can you be safe from the dreaded HN virus? Baba Ramdev says the worst symptoms of HN can be avoided by adopting the yogic posture of sitting with fingers in both your ears when watching TV. This not only saves you from the toxic viruses being spewed out of the set, but has the added advantage of not having to listen to your spouse.
For those who want a stronger prophylactic, doctors say the best way to avoid the disease is the same way all viruses can be avoided — by proper nourishment, taking rest and drinking plenty of fluids.
Thankfully, the intake of large doses of alcohol fits the bill perfectly. You get plenty of calories and lots of fluid, it nourishes both body and soul and it also acts as a disinfectant, sterilising your innards. Best of all, after several pegs you no longer understand a word of what they’re telling you on TV, rendering you completely immune to the virus.
Manas Chakravarty is Consulting Editor, Mint