Monday, March 23, 2020

Reminiscing Curfews

Curfew Time
The self-imposed quarantine to safeguard against the spread of coronavirus brings back the memories of the days during the wars with China and Pakistan in the years 1962, 1965 and 1971. It was a decade of tumultuous politics when life was in upheaval. As a young child in 1962,  I remember at nights there would be air raid sirens when we were supposed to switch off all the lights, darken all the windows and shades with newspapers/ dark paper and huddle in the corner. It was advised to stand either next to walls or hide under the cots to avoid injuries due to falling roofs in case it ever happened.

I vividly remember that during the 1965 war with Pakistan, our RWA dug up Z- shaped trenches in the public parks and there would be demonstrations how one should vacate the home if ever there were bombs dropped and rush into the trenches in such eventuality. There were frequent trial runs but fortunately, the necessity never arose to use these in real-life scenarios. In the ensuing summer vacations, the trenches were used by us as hideouts at night while playing 'hide and seek' with friends.

There are memories of long queues at ration shops where people would wait for hours to collect kerosene, sugar, and wheat ( that mostly came under the PL 480 agreement with the USA during the war/ famine years of 1961-1969).  Most of the readers of this post may never have even seen such queues in their lifetime having been born in times when such scarcities did not occur. We would collect the things in bags and assist our father to bring these home.

If ever there were air raid sirens during the day time we would rush into our homes and spend time playing indoor games like carrom, cards, snakes and ladders or ludo. It was time to bond at home. There were no TV or mobiles, and the only source of news was the radio on which we could listen to the news from All India Radio and sometimes on the BBC on the short wave. The media wars were fought by terming Radio Pakistan as 'Radio Jhootisthan' as there were no debates like we have on the TV today.

The present environment of the siege at home due to the lockdown now provides us with the opportunity to read books that we had missed, practice yoga, try new cuisines, and not waste by remaining glued to hear the depressing details of rising death tolls around the world. One can follow the news once during the day and maybe in the evening and not entirely remain glued to the TV. As it is, besides the news and sermons there is a huge variety that awaits us on the Netflix and Amazon Prime Time. Time spent in sharing the fake news and useless videos on the WhatsApp can be channelised in other meaningful pursuits. I find the Coursera and Khan Academy as a tremendous value add to learn something new, besides reading some interesting articles in Pocket and Brain Pickings by Maria Popova. We have to choose our own poison according to our likes. The lucky ones who still earn their salaries have an opportunity to work from home a concept which is not new to the IT world.

This difficult time too shall pass and will be lost in the pages of history. The learnings of never to take nature for granted and respecting it, no matter how progressive mankind becomes, must never be forgotten. Stay Safe, Stay Healthy!

PS- Image Kind Courtesy Google


  1. Oh, I so agree that it's time to turn off fake news and TV and concentrate on the more meaningful things in life.