PARIS DIARY

The Great Escape @Home

I’m still waiting for my eureka moment of perspective, where not going out makes me go within and I no longer feel the need to bang books on my head.

 |  PARIS DIARY  |  4-minute read |   10-04-2020
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Today is Day ‘when-is-it-over’ of quarantine. Yet, the numbers rise and the rules of confinement get stricter (no more jogging during the day). I should be grateful for having a home (a contagion-free one at that) and a sufficiently stocked fridge. Trust me, I am extremely thankful. I know social distancing is a privilege, particularly in India. But this morning as my daughter asks for my help for the 87th time, I take her thick encyclopaedia and start banging it violently on my head (not my proudest moment as a parent).

Almost every afternoon a dull headache creeps up on me and engulfs me in an inertia impossible to kick off. A jetlag from hell – not because I’m globetrotting, but because I’m barely stepping out. The words of an old Mohammed Rafi song swirl in my head: Kabhi Khud Pe, Kabhi Haalaat Pe Ronaa Aayaa… Sabko Apni Hi Kisi Baat Pe Rona Aaya. The lyrics take on a new meaning – sometimes you cry for yourself, sometimes for the situation, but everyone’s tears, even in the most global of tragedies, are personal.

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It doesn’t make me less empathetic to the suffering of others if I’m feeling sorry for myself. Or does it? Either way, a self-pity party of one is no fun, so I turn to the only liberator of the confined and step out into the virtual world (‘step out’ being the key words). Unrepentantly, I ignore the notification flashing on my phone – Screen Time is up by 41%. Isn’t everyone’s? The screen is our only portal to the outside world (provided we can get past the sea of forwards and memes).

Work from home is so last week of confinement, and e-schooling was the week before that. This week it’s enrichment classes from the comfort of your home. Bharatanatyam for beginners (careful not to break anything, you don’t want to risk a trip to the hospital), or group vipassana meditation (log in, be silent and don’t make eye contact). We socialise from home, connecting with friends we haven’t seen in eons (realising five minutes into hearing their boring stories that there is a reason you don’t connect). We rage and mourn from our windows. We celebrate and holiday within the realms of our imagination. We even heal ourselves via video call with our docs and therapists. We’ve become so self-sufficient in this age of confined connectivity that we may never need to step out again.

The other night, during cocktail hour with my girlfriends (the ones I’ll always like) on zoom, one of my friends flaunted the happy benefits of Oxytocin pills she had bought over-the-counter and was popping.

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Oxytocin, for the uninitiated, is the love-hormone released during an orgasm and childbirth, and also through social bonding, especially when it involves touch. As I logged off, instead of feeling replenished, I felt drained. Cyber contact definitely does not release happy hormones – in fact too much screen socialising can have the opposite effect, bringing on a sense of gloom. Gianpiero Petriglieri, a professor at INSEAD explained in a tweet: “Our mind’s tricked into the idea of being together when our bodies feel we’re not. Dissonance is exhausting… It’s easier being in each other’s presence, or in each other’s absence, than in the constant presence of each other’s absence.”

Remembering that my DP has said Pls Don’t Bug long before Corona (and I couldn’t mean it more at the moment), I quit virtual socialising and turn to entertainment. After all, art has the power to transform lives. Entertainers have been crucial in keeping up morale in any war. This stay-at-home war has meant our artistes don’t need to think of out-of-the-box ideas, but of ideas from within their box. Voila! Birth of the wardrobe series shot by KJo performed by his twins. The gift of the cleverly edited short film featuring all our favourite superstars interacting with each other without leaving their homes.

Across the border, Danyal Zafar, a young musician on the cusp of realising his American Dream, flies back to lock himself, and his disappointment, in isolation for 14 days. No family, no friends, admittedly in the comfort of nice living quarters, yet alone. A few days in, his hypochondria starts getting the better of him – it’s time to sink or swim. He turns to his online fans (because there is a certain comfort that only strangers can give) and, within 24 hours, he records and releases a song based on a melody he woke up with. He fan-sources videos to make what goes on to become a quaran-time anthem of the youth in Pakistan. Being entirely cut off from the world (and yet connected) was a perspective shift for him – “Things were so close to me, my vision got blurred. Isolation forced me to take a step back and now I can see things so clearly.”

I’m still waiting for my eureka moment of perspective, where not going out makes me go within and I no longer feel the need to bang books on my head. Till then I’m taking a trip through the tapestry of my mind.

(Courtesy of Mail Today)

Also read: Lead Me (Like You Should)

Writer

Koel Purie Rinchet Koel Purie Rinchet @koelscouch

Professional Attention Seeker. Currently loves and writes in Paris.

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