An ode to the unsung heroes

Sometimes an ominous feeling comes over me where I feel I’m living in the twilight zone.
Captain Praveen Chandra and his team flying for the Vande Bharath Mission to bring back stranded Indians 
Captain Praveen Chandra and his team flying for the Vande Bharath Mission to bring back stranded Indians 

BENGALURU: Sometimes an ominous feeling comes over me where I feel I’m living in the twilight zone. It feels like I’m walking through a labyrinth of tunnels and constantly encountering dead ends (metaphorically speaking, of course)! It’s a little unnerving when one loses track of days and suddenly you hear yourself asking if it’s a Saturday or a Sunday. That creeps me out! As creatures of habit, we like to think that we are in control, I am no different. This faux ‘lotus eater’s existence’ is unnerving and unsettling.

I attribute this feeling to the unnatural masses of information that we are privy to on the phone or on the internet. I regularly clean my WhatsApp chat platform of the reams of pictures, videos, information, gossip and giggles. It’s exhausting as friends and strangers alike are trying to connect and have some human interaction. The last straw was my lift technician sending me jokes and pictures of his grandchildren! As people are tentatively poking their heads out of the closed doors of isolation and testing the waters, they are actually re-learning to communicate face to face (albeit with appropriate distancing!).

Of course, we also have the ‘macho brigade’ (and mind you, I am not differentiating between genders), who bring their bravado to fore with the same inane theories; ‘the lockdown is not a solution, it is a conspiracy to usher in an economic downfall, the world has never shut down before with worse virus infestations and a higher mortality rate’ and the best one that made me crack up… ‘it is a ploy by our conservative right wing government to curb unwanted teenage pregnancies and they are trying to enforce our long forgotten morals by imposing social distancing’! The sanest view by far has come in by American physician and immunologist Dr Anthony Stephen Fauci, who said obsessive washing and sanitisation may not be sustainable for preventions in the long run.

He cautioned that successive world governments must insist on an ‘internal sanitisation’ method, or the building up of immunity so as to avoid future and inevitable viral onslaughts. This makes so much sense. As a species, we are lazy, self-centered and completely reliant on gizmos and gadgets. We gorge on instant foods that come out of a plastic bag or tin and we are unmindful of earth’s resources which we exploit and overuse till we ourselves become irrevocably ill. The list is undoubtedly endless.

But where we can shake our heads at mankind’s collective greed, there are acts of heroism and selflessness that lift our spirits. Our very own Bengaluru boy, Captain Praveen Chandra, is one such inspirational person. He flew with our national carrier for many years and recently quit to join another airline at a much better position and with a higher economic package. Yet when his country called on him, he was the first to fly into a virus-infested foreign land to repatriate our fellow countrymen to the safety of their own country. Acts like these and many more bring a sense of hope and a soul-stirring feeling of good deeds that get paid forward. This gives us hope to expect better from each other and strive harder… This gives us the confidence to say that the human spirit lives on especially in those unsung heroes that work in essential services, who feed the hungry and are a voice for the voiceless immigrant labourers.

There are other acts of heroism too in these confusing times, like a phone call to lift your spirit or share a laugh. Groups have been formed to tackle the new syndrome of ‘lockdown depression’ and ‘lockdown domestic violence’. And then, there are friends like Reuben Kataria, GM, JW Marriott, who brighten up your Mother’s Day by sending you your favourite food because you miss your own mother. To all the unsung heroes… Salut!

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The New Indian Express