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Home / Brunch / Humour: Have you sanitised your laughter?

Humour: Have you sanitised your laughter?

Here’s to the silly moments that slip out from under the mask of the serious year

brunch Updated: Nov 01, 2020, 07:15 IST
Rehana Munir
Rehana Munir
Hindustan Times
The findings of science combine with the whims of the human heart to add unlimited rules to Covid safety protocol
The findings of science combine with the whims of the human heart to add unlimited rules to Covid safety protocol(Photo Imaging: Parth Garg)

The year may have played out like a dark medical thriller, but it has had its sitcom moments. Remember the first time you saw someone try and sip water off a glass with their mask on, spilling it all over themselves in the process? Might not be a moment of Wildean wit, but it cracks me up each time to think of it. Thankfully, there are plenty such silly moments that slip out from under the mask of the intense year.

Do the wrong thing

Everyone’s received the memo about taking life seriously, living in the moment, etc. If there were a machine that measured seriousness – an Intens-o-meter, if you will – this year would set new records. Not a day goes by when our fragile mortality isn’t spotlighted by either the worrying news from our social circles or humanity in general. Things got so bad a couple of days ago, I ended up watching a few episodes of Emily in Paris, Darren Starr’s new confection on Netflix. I understand that the dreaded virus wreaks havoc with one’s sense of taste; this show, from that point of view, is perfect for 2020. Clichés about French people being mean and surface discussions about the male gaze. It almost made me miss the unapologetic un-wokeness of Sex and the City by the same creator – and I’ve never watched a single episode.

With so many restrictions that we’re living with right now, every now and then we want to exercise the choice to do the wrong thing

I questioned what made me sit through at least four episodes of the unwatchable show. Turns out it was exactly what’s making everyone else watch it – an undemanding escape into an unrealistic Paris. There are so many restrictions that we’re living with right now that every now and then we want to exercise the choice to Do The Wrong Thing. Like eating junk food that doesn’t even taste good. But the badness has its uses. It’s so much fun right now, for instance, to be complaining about awful entertainment than health care or insurance – those neon signs looming over the grey skies of our minds.

The immunity wars

A recent scare with the virus turned me into the model socially responsible citizen for a golden 10-day period. Not only did I retreat into my home like a Cold War paranoiac in their bunker, I decided to fortify myself with every prophylactic measure, starting with the use of the word ‘prophylactic’ instead of ‘preventive’. Armed with the correct vocabulary, I set about taking my vitamin and zinc tablets with exemplary enthusiasm. If that hadn’t shocked my long-neglected immune system, there was the very professional-looking steam inhalation apparatus that I placed on my work desk like a talisman. Antiseptic gargles and lozenges completed the aggressive booster programme, not to mention the regular checking of temperature and pulse.

Testing done, it was time to see whether all these measures had proven successful – not that one can ever know. I betrayed my medical novice status by arranging for a home test on a Saturday. Forty-eight hours later, I was still waiting for the results, battling a severe case of Schrödinger’s virus all weekend. When the negative report finally arrived, it was a potent moment, as it no doubt is for all testees.

It’s a miracle!

‘Of science and the human heart, there is no limit,’ sang the ever-earnest Bono in U2’s Miracle Drug. (Elsewhere in the song he bewilderingly sings: Freedom has a scent / Like the top of a newborn baby’s head. I’ve often wondered about this. Sorry, Bono. I just can’t make the connection. Freedom, to me, smells of ink, coffee and petrol.) The findings of science combine with the whims of the human heart to add unlimited rules to Covid safety protocol. For instance, are masks, sanitisers and distancing enough, or do we need gloves, too? I find myself even avoiding eye-contact on masked morning walks and then wondering what kind of illness has taken hold of my brain. Which flings me into the blingy arms of Emily in Paris. Oh dear.

2020 has bestowed an honorary medical degree on so many of us. From polysyllabic tongue twisters like ‘oropharyngeal’ to newly-acquired acronyms like RT-PCR, our socially distanced interactions sound like they’ve been written by a shoddy dialogue writer of a ’90s soap set in a green-walled hospital. If only this year, too, staged a sudden and miraculous recovery, like in the feel-good sub-plots of those improbable shows.

Follow @rehana_munir on Twitter and Instagram

From HT Brunch, November 1, 2020

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