Our ‘Dosti 24×7’ WhatsApp group always had as much traffic as the road outside our housing complex. Now as the street gets silenced, the group is getting noisier. It has become a more vital lifeline than the hyperlocal hawkers and shops which provided everything, from Aloo (or ‘avacoda’), Beauty treatments and Computer sundries to Xerox, Y-fronts and Zippers. Our WhatsApp group was no slouch either in its array of services. It was mother-in-law and saheli, a supplier of instant remedies, recipes and reassurance, a Lost & Found, Yellow Pages and OLX. But ever since The Virus changed life as we had known it, so has our WhatsApp. It has mutated unrecognisably – just like the way we once used to work, play, live; eat, pray, love.
Till corona rained on its parade, our rainbow WhatsApp messages were ‘Phone no. of Sonu veggie-wala’; ‘Gym is open?, ‘Any Maalishwali is in building?’, ‘Need Bandwala/ Batman/ Bhootnath outfit for 6-year-old’; even one early morning plea from a desperate mum for ‘six peacock feathers pleeease’ (incidentally, supplied within seconds). Or there’d be a frantic SOS to locate ‘a Peppa Pig water-bottle lost in podium garden’; oftimes the missing kid himself. Or appeals for kitchen cures for toddler toothache, adolescent acne, Babuji’s bronchitis …
Now that viral obsession has infected every waking moment, how could our ‘Dosti 24×7’ self-isolate from the contagion? Corona has staled its infinite variety. Its former, multiple outreach is down to a one-point agenda. Like journalism’s classical formula of 5Ws+1H, our WhatsApp group only posts the Who, What, Where, When, Why of the wolf at our door, and How to stay safe plus adequately stocked on dal, chawal, sanitisers – and wafers, that great comfort food when the chips are down.
Coronavirus has united our housing complex. And divided its Whatsappers into clear-cut categories. The Rapid Action Force, first responders to any need, expressed or pre-empted. (And ‘those who only stand and wait’ for someone else to volunteer.) The ‘I Agree’ army which immediately endorses/ applauds every posted suggestion. The Enlightening Epidemiologists, instant informers of every stage of spread (sometimes fake). And, inevitably, the Terrible Trio of Rumour-spreaders, Doomsayers and Panicreators. As you can see, we’re fully prepared with our inhouse Whats-apparatus.
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Alec Smart said: “Locked-down is better than Knocked-down.”
DISCLAIMER : This article is intended to bring a smile to your face. Any connection to events and characters in real life is coincidental.