Dear Dr Hutchison,
A semblance of India
Even the birds and strays seem puzzled by the quiet streets that have replaced the teeming multitudes, the noisy traffic, the shouts from the football practice corner and gully cricket, the roadside carts with fruits and vegetables ̶ for all these things that we took for granted are now of the past. The municipal corporation arranged for spraying pesticide in residential areas in an attempt to keep the cockroaches and bandicoots at bay. With the incubation period behind us, we are in mode 'on your marks, get ready' for the predicted symptoms of lung infection caused by coronavirus to surface across the community during 27 March and 3 April 2020. Intermittently, we forget to breathe overwhelmed by the thought of what is to come, as news arrives that uptown Cyberabad has pockets of Red Zone where individuals have tested positive for coronavirus.
The Indian government is making arrangements to distribute for families living below the poverty line each 5 kilograms rice or wheat flour and cooking oil every month for the next 3 months. Ears prick up - will the 21 days be extended to 3 months then? We cringe at having to face an uncertain future, a possible extension of the lockdown beyond the current 21 days. The morning papers brought the news that the UK and Australia have announced 6 months lockdown. Olympics 2020 will be conducted in 2021. Tax saving for the financial year April 2019 - March 2020 will now end in June 2020. The uncertainty of it all hits us in the eye.
In our eye hospital in Hyderabad, six teams are working once weekly to keep the hospital open for emergencies. The first week will come to a close tomorrow Saturday and the authorities are urging lateral thinking from one and all; more efficient systems, procedures, technology, innovation, a spirited zeal to help patients, employees, the larger community. More than a week ago, our Chairman had announced protection of our job and salary through the crisis, bringing home the point that it was possible all thanks to our Donors, philanthropists among our Patients and firm Friends and Supporters of long decades whose association with our eye hospital LVPEI had been nurtured over the years.
Last night, I enquired after optometrists, ophthalmic nursing assistants, vision technicians, eye doctors, national and international trainees I had become acquainted with during classes for spoken Telugu for easier interactions with Patients at our Centre of Excellence. Many wrote back that they were safe and, in turn, wished me well. I messaged patients who had sought my help for making appointments over the years. One elder appreciated my thoughtfulness. A television news story profiled how the vulnerable such as the elderly and unwell people, were suddenly made much more dependent on human good will to fend for food, obtain medical care or have the privilege of a listening ear to share one's feelings and worries. Our chairman reinforced the point by forwarding this article by Mr Nipun Malhotra on the depths we can plummet to if we are insensitive to the needs of the disabled for whom social distancing is an impossible ask. Please read about it here:
Readers were alerted to the importance of following the W3CAG standards or web content accessibility guidelines. That is, the look and feel of all websites must meet the requirements of persons with disability such as vision loss or speech and hearing impairment, so that no person is left behind.
The UNICEF gave 4 tips on 'working from home': maintaining a strict routine, following up on hobbies, calling up a person who is staying alone, writing our thoughts into a gratitude journal. Taking the cue, my Mother and I are counting the things and associations we are grateful for, watching the sun go down, making simple conversation with the radio or television audio level down and the hearing device on, re-living events from photographs, and yes adopting the wait and watch approach before we decide to shelve life plans. We are managing our emotions with the evergreen prayer, 'O Lord, teach me to take one day at a time.' We are also following advice to keep the throat and mouth from going dry by using lemon, warm water, ginger; and garlic to ward off microbes.
Earlier this week, the Telangana government began operating an isolation unit for coronavirus cases from the premises of a private dental hospital in Vikarabad near Hyderabad. Local citizens decried the move, but the government went ahead: dedicated space for isolation is the need of the hour.
While we continue to have our share of individual mindlessness, be it youngsters riding triple on motorbikes in residential colonies daring penalization by the authorities, or the thoughtless mismanagement of scarce resources such as drinking water or bath water or water from the toilet flush, we need to urgently usher in zero tolerance for racist name calling as is happening in the daily stigmatization of citizens of North East India - their eyes resemble those of the Chinese you see. So much for the human mind of the 21st century. Watch out folks, we need to be less imbecile and more humane in our every thought, word and action. Being mindful: That's a tall order you say. It is our only recourse.
Shobha Mocherla, PhDAudio-Visual Producer, CommunicationsL V Prasad Eye
Institute, L V Prasad Marg
Road 2, Banjara Hills, Hyderabad, 500034
Andhra Pradesh, India
W:www.lvpei.org, E:email@example.com,www.twitter.com/lvpei, W:http://www.lvpei.org/patientcare/videos/
I support LVPEI's efforts to prevent blindness and provide vision
CHIFA profile: Shobha Mocherla is an audio-visual producer with L V Prasad Eye Institute, Hyderabad, India. She produces videos for medical and instructional training. www.lvpei.org/videogallery.html mshoba AT lvpei.org