Lalitas & Lollitas of Lockdown 4.0
The beyond-corona balconies of #Lockdown 4.0 are metaphors mirroring the #newnormal’s newer narrativesUpdated: May 24, 2020 00:52 IST
If Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window had the fortune to be remade in India Quarantining, it would perhaps be titled Rear Vehra (verandah). Instead of James Stewart, it would star next door’s golu-molu Gupta ji or Sharma ji – crippled not by legs that are plastered but by luxuriantly-haired legs caged by Lockdown – doing the sleuthing about neighbourhood doings or misdoings from their rear verandah. Yes, yes, one has to confess, the comparison of the Khullarjis or Khannajis to Stewart is as odious as likening karelas to exotic kiwis.
Or if one be partial to spirits, nah not the spiritedness spilling from diabetic Khannajis and Khullarjis (K&K) as they keep count of cups of sugar-loaded tea consumed on neighbouring balconies or count of cup sizes of female laundry fluttering next-door – but if the partiality be to spirits that spark riots outside liquor vends when Lockdown lifts, then comparing K&Ks to Stewart at Lockdown’s Rear Window is like seeing cousinly resemblance between desi thharra and Sauvignon Blanc.
If balconies are India Quarantining’s new Mall Lounges or Living Rooms – be it as a stage for the revival of the Great Evening Tea Ritual or for hosting Taali ‘n’ Thaali theatrics – it is these facades of middle class cramped condo living that are mirroring most the little lifting of Lockdown 4.0.
Rear Window One
These balconies stand like solitary outposts of India Quarantining. All that flutters like flags in the summer breeze is a confluence of clothing that bespeaks middle class India’s “andar ki baat” as well as its surface sartorial story – Laundry of Lockdown.
Come the little lifting of Lockdown 4.0, those outposts now boast of two “Ls” – Laundry and Lalitas. The former unmasks the “vest”-ed interests of middle class India, the latter flaunts new normal’s multi-purpose masked face. Multipurpose, because the masks serve a dual purpose – they shield from viruses and also save the memsahib from seeing Lalita’s face screwed into a scowl at the sight of scrubbing.
The two “Ls” on Lockdown’s balconies are also a metaphor for the paradigm shift in the “breaking news” boisterousness on Tamasha TV and Twitter – with Arnab, Rajdeep & Co’s “flatten the curve” narratives now rubbing shoulders with “Amphan flattens Bengal” new narratives.
The curious case of Lockdown’s Life of Bai.
Rear Window Two
This is the Rear Window that’s seeing death – nah, not the toll from the pandemic, but of a ritual. The little lifting of Lockdown 4.0 is seeing the demise of Quarantine’s Great Indian Evening Tea Ritual, which witnessed a revival during #WorkFromHome, quite like discarded ‘n’ dusty gramophones or transistors springing to life if iPods or iPhones were to be banned.
What does one blame it on? Park street. For, most of middle class India Quarantining that had parked itself in the Rear Vehra, is now returning to the park.
Quarantine’s Great Evening Tea Ritual Revivalists, who were given to lolling their legs or l-ogling lissome legs leaning from Rear Vehras nextdoor, are now legging it to parks to stretch a leg or two.
These beyond-Lockdown balconies found echoes in Tamasha TV footage legging it to beyond-Covid19 narratives, Left, Right and Amphan epicentre.
The curious case of Lockdown’s Tea Tradition tottering on its last legs upon bone china, not owing to China.
Rear Window 3
This is the Rear Vehra that’s not experiencing earth-shaking makeover in Lockdown 4.0.
Still no signs of Lalitas, only ‘Lollitas’. Nah, no resemblance to the fabled ‘Lolita’, rather ‘Lollitas’ being creatures of Quarantine – #WFH memsahibs who derive their nomenclature from #NewNormal’s behavioural disorder of “lolling” around laptop in one hand and balancing broomstick in the other.
These balconies are still staging Quarantine’s Quick Workouts, as the inmates aren’t yet legging it to park street. While the Lollitajis do the balancing act with broomsticks, their respective Khannajis and Khullarjis exercise neck muscles – by leaning over ledges to l-ogle or learn about neighbours’ political leanings. The leanings being configured from the count of candles lit or not lit next-doors upon Narendra Modi’s candlelight call.
The single-point agenda of these balcony gazers too finds resonance in the rhetoricism of Pashas of Primetime, who played up only one party’s version of the Yogi vs Priyanka pandemic posturing.
The curious case of the leaning towers of pandemic.