June 21, 2020
June 21, 2020


Laughs in the time of


BY Wijith DeChickera

I know it isn’t a laughing matter – so don’t lick your chops and pick up that quarantine pen or click that self-isolated mouse. To dash off a nasty ‘letter to the editor’ about the insensitivity of your favourite columnist! And yeah, right: I can see you scratching your head there.

Now that I have your attention however, perhaps you’ve also appreciated the lighter side of life under lockdown?

Yes, the curfew may have crippled your champagne and cocktail circuit lifestyle. But I’m willing to wager my bottom dollar – about 220 rupees by the time this goes to print, I’d bet – that you’re having your cake and eating it.

And in certain coffee klatches, I’m told it’s not the ersatz caviar that’s being had. Hmm!

This is not to criticise or condemn anyone, though. If your appetite wasn’t the last thing to give in and go into sequestration, it’s simply the way of all flesh in times of stress. Under duress, we’re more than likely to look for something scrumptious to put in that mouth! Why let a good crisis go to waste? Or in fact, why let a good crisis ‘go to waist’?

Hello – so that’s where all those extra pounds (the equivalent of about 1.5 dollars apiece) went… south! 

Just leave aside the bad puns, you say?

I had a gut feeling you would. Sorry there’s something that those of you with sensitive tastes can’t stomach, after all. Must take those punches to the solar plexus with a pinch of salt, no? Ha-ha.

CLEAR AS MUD As curfew tolls the knell of parting day, it is apparent that the long arm of the law has been considerably foreshortened by opaque communications from on high.

A friend of mine was stopped at a checkpoint after he blithely ventured outdoors in the fortieth day of lockdown after taking a welcome media communiqué at face value.

The coppers told him he couldn’t use his ID card as a virtual curfew pass while in fact, the curfew was still in force.

He wanted to know why he and a few plus million others had been told so the previous night. That was for districts not under curfew, he was told by a poker-faced policeman. He wanted to know why districts not under curfew would need a pass in the first place. There was no satisfactory answer to that and my pal hotfooted it home a chagrined man.   

FOLKS GONE MIA An emerging aspect of the ‘new normal’ is that flesh and blood has absented itself from the marketplace.

This is especially so over the phone. And sometimes, the transaction can be painfully hilarious to handle. As this exchange between me and a bot will probably amply demonstrate.

“Hi. I’m trying to pay my bill online. Do I credit my payment to Biz Unit A or B?”

“I didn’t quite understand what you just said.”

Nice and personal – so try again: “I’m online, trying to pay my bill. So to whom do I credit the payment?”

“Oki! Let’s get a solution. First, can I know if you have lodged a complain (sic) with us? Please type ‘yes’ or ‘no.’”

Oki? Who are you; some millennial? Complain? “No. But I feel I’m about to!”

“Let me help you to fix your problem asap… which of the issues listed below are you facing? Slow internet? Can’t change password? No signal bars on the router?”

I feel like I want to type ‘slow bot!’ Can’t change service provider! No brains on your robot! But commonsense prevails.

“I’m simply trying to pay my bill online. WHO IS YOUR PAYEE?”

This bot is oblivious to the typographical equivalent of shouting.“Oki! Let’s get a solution…” Aaarrgh!

My other half talks to her plants while watering those thirsty botanicals! I on the other hand, have circular conversations with random mechanicals hungry for company.

ALL’S WELL THAT ENDS He who laughs last laughs longest. It won’t be me, I promise.

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