City Notes: Keeping a safe distance | Pakistan Today

City Notes: Keeping a safe distance

Has anyone really worked out what a lockdown really means? Well, there’s social distancing, and that is tough. I wonder how barbers can do their jobs and maintain social distancing. And I’m not talking about the old-fashioned barbers who also shaved your armpits. I’m talking about the ones who do your hair with strange patterns shaved into your head. Or the one who got taken to the cinema by an enthusiastic young client, who wanted to show him the hero of a movie, so he could replicate his hairstyle.

There are less taxing things than getting a haircut. What about going to the bank? I wouldn’t be surprised if that was why the government postponed all those payments. To avoid the immense lines. And there haven’t been any summer sales yet. Who wants to try out clothes at them? So a lot of large heavyset people are thus probably going to end up squeezed into small-size clothes. And conversely, a lot of small, svelte people are going to be lost in the large garb they pick up.

But the main purpose of getting new clothes, due to Eid congregations. I wonder whether we will have Eid congregations this year. And whether the triple embrace will be replaced by anything. They’re already talking about cancelling the Haj, which is obligatory, so there shouldn’t be a problem with the Eid congregations, which are not compulsory anyhow, though attended even by those who don’t normally attend Friday prayers (which are).

I wonder how the Tablighi Jamaat is getting on. Their method, after all, is for a group to spend their afternoons preaching to people. The group stays in mosques, and come together from all over the country. Their methodology is ideal for spreading any infection, particularly this disease.

There’s another method. In these times of uncertainty and worry, I wouldn’t be surprised if people are getting their Pir Sahibs to make special supplications. The gatherings are dangerous enough, but the jackpot would be if a Pir Sahib was a carrier. And his murids asked him to do dam on them as a special blessing and protection. Not only would a lot of murids fall sick, but most of the rest, perhaps all, would become carriers themselves. And if they then spread out across the country?

Of course, one reason we have the coronavirus is we took our eye off Iran, and all those pilgrims coming back. Well, we seem to have kept a watch on the pilgrims, but a PM’s Adviser is supposed to have got some out of quarantine. The results are like going to an ATM, and not washing your hands afterwards.

The epidemic is spreading. Both Prince Charles and UK PM Boris Johnson have got it. Prince Charles is 72 in November, unlike our own PM, who will be a sprightly 68 in November, but both are above the danger age of 60. Imran doesn’t admit it, though, because he intends to keep on getting the youth vote forever. That’s why he’s set up the Tiger Force to distribute rations during the lockdown. Which he plans to join.

To make sure the PML(N) doesn’t complain about having its symbol taken over, he’s set NAB to work. It’s decided to file another reference against Shahid Khaqan Abbasi. Hmmm… Perhaps the only people who will get COVID-19 are corrupt elements.

Some people seem to think that the virus will clean out the West, leaving the world open to a takeover. Why does that remind me of the story about the ‘mirasi’s’ son who asked his mother what would happen if the village ‘chaudhri’ died. His son. And what if he died? His brother. And if he died? The brother’s son. And if he died? Exasperated, she said, “Pura pind marjai, tehnoon chaudhri koi nahin banaega.” (Even if the whole village dies, nobody’ll make you chaudhri.) That’s what’ll happen to us. Even if the whole West dies, we won’t get the leadership of the world.

One of the things about a lockdown is enforcement, and if the enforcers are as prone as our police to look away for consideration, we really won’t have a lockdown, will we? But cops must live too, and they have to look after families. But maybe they should at least stop gambling dens, where people find it difficult to maintain social distancing, instead of taking a cut on them.

One of the unexpected boons has been working from home. Then there’s distance shopping. Distance learning is also getting started. All of these things have only been possible because of technology and its proliferation. Even kids’ social lives haven’t ground to a halt, because of mobiles. And the Internet has been a great resource in this time. When I look back to my youth, a lockdown would have been much harsher.

Footnote to these notes: the most proactive US Governor is Andrew Cuomo of New York. Just as our most proactive CM is Murad Ali Shah of Sindh. Is it a coincidence that the former is the son of former Governor Mario Cuomo, and the latter of ex-CM Abdullah Shah? I think, for Jam Kamal Haider, the Baloshistan CM whose father Yusuf and grandfather Ghulam Qadir had held the office, didn’t impress anyone with the mess at Taftan.