Aatma-nirbharta and baingan ka bharta

Some practical advice on thinking positive and staying COVID-negative


If space is indeed the final frontier we’ve not had much of it these last few months, cooped up within four walls with familiarity bordering on contempt. On the bright side, we’ve become chefs and bakers, our Instagram timelines buzzing with recipes we have discovered and plagiarised. And if we have not already torn our hair out from frustration, we’ve become celebrity hairdressers. And we can now give webinars, maybe even TED Talks, in home deep-cleaning. 

Keep smiling, my man. You’re getting along nicely. Unless you are one of those fortunate few who has been locked down with a live-in help who has not had the good fortune to return home. 

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We’re in an advanced stage of aatma nirbharta. Hang on, let me check on my baingan bharta before it becomes one with the nonstick pan. We’re so totally self-reliant that we’re tapping out hypernationalistic tweets on our Chinese-made smartphones. What do you know, even Apple will move its factories to Uttar Pradesh and then we’ll be truly liberated. 

Just you watch, our great nationalists will develop their own version of TikTok and Zoom (just like we developed Pushpak viman; too bad we lost the manual — it’s probably in the British Museum) and you won’t have to worry about your data leaking to those foreign companies. Aarogya Setu will keep you safe and sound like a big brother watching over you. You can work from home for the rest of your life, if you still have a job.

Hope you’re shopping online for your essentials. Everything will come to your doorstep. We must keep the economy going. You can get everything you want online, except booze. Some ustads were distilling their own liquor, until the shops finally opened to lines longer than one has seen on election day. 

Make no mistake — these spirited deshbhakts are our leading lights. Soon, they’ll be so aatma-nirbhar that they’ll be growing tea and coffee in balcony gardens. And maybe they’ll harvest lotus stems and water chestnuts in the bathroom, who knows. Hope the VCs are taking note. This lockdown has really brought out the best in us. Enough of staying glued to Netflix and YouTube. When this is over, I can’t wait to go and watch Bhai’s films in the multiplex.

Make sure the kids are studying well even without the teacher glaring at them. Time management is important. There’s an app for that. Forget about studying for Medicine now — doctors have no work-life balance. They’re not even allowed to come back home. 

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You may be out of the red zone, but please don’t go out and risk infection. Try to flatten the curve — I’m not referring to your waistline. Just remember to sanitise your hands. Wear a mask. Protect your eyes — don’t look at anything that disturbs you. It’s important to stay positive — except COVID-positive. Ha ha. Thank god there are no newspapers — the news is so disturbing. Locusts are eating our crops, it seems. Are farmers just standing there and watching this happen? 

Let’s not shed any tears for them, especially those onion farmers who’ve been trashing their crop. Just change your food habits and adapt — eat cabbage instead of onions. Share the recipe, okay? See, even our Finance Minister leads by example — she doesn’t eat onions. The only market to worry about, anyway, is the stockmarket. Sensex is looking slimmer and sexier these days — really lost some weight, no? Anyway, this is a time to be frugal. Power and internet bills are very high. Spend wisely (on your Netflix subscription) and contribute to PM Cares. We have a spanking new Central Vista to build. 

But we need the migrant workers to come back for that.

When they finally return to clean our homes, I tell you, we’re going to give them some serious paisa-vasool competition. Now we know all their little tricks. We’ll catch them red-handed when they skip a corner of the living room floor under the TV stand. Aha! 

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Well, that’s still weeks away. Probably many weeks away. We tried not to let them go — think about the expense of to-and-fro travel when we have to be practical in these difficult times. Stopping their buses and trains didn’t work; they just walked as if they’re in a Johnny Walker ad. One chap even stole a cycle and wrote an apology note. And didn’t anyone tell them that railway tracks are not for sleeping on? They’re still walking, hundreds of kilometres. Why, to break the Guinness record? Who’s keeping count? We have Ramayan to watch. And the greatest show on earth, Mann Ki Baat. 

Hope you’ve been sending them money, bro. You can cut it from their salaries when they come back. What, they don’t have Google Pay? Whatever happened to Digital India, yaar?


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