Thinking (& fretting) aloud

Thinking (& fretting) aloud

As I write – Saturday evening, just before 7pm in Delhi – there is a fair old storm overhead. The earlier torrential rain has eased up a little, but now the thunder has returned and there are strong winds. So all the windows we had opened, in order to enjoy the cooling rain, are now banging around, and we’re all rushing to close up again.

There’s nothing specifically troubling on my mind this evening, nothing more than the constant, ever-present background fretting over Coronavirus, but I find myself – well – fretting all the time about this awful virus, knowing all the while that there’s absolutely nothing I can do about it, other than keep me and mine as safe as possible.

The situation here in India is grim and getting grimmer by the day.

Last night we crossed the 4 million cases benchmark – with the fourth million taking only 13 days.

That’s what’s scary – the speed with which this awful virus is working its way through the country.

And just as scary is the apparent sense of drift in this country’s leadership.

To a lowly outsider such as your writer, it seems as though the governmental focus is no longer on the traumas that this country is enduring – Coronavirus, a dire economic situation and Chinese sabre-rattling on the Himalayan borders – to name but 3.

Instead we are treated to photos of the Prime Minister feeding a peacock.

Anyone any idea what his feet are on?

The PM will not be taking questions in the next session of parliament, we are informed – as it is, he doesn’t do press conferences at all – so there is no way anyone can ask him what he’s doing about the pandemic, or the economy, or the Chinese incursion.

In his monthly radio address last weekend Mr. Modi talked about popularising indigenous Indian dog breeds, and the need to manufacture traditional toys locally.

We learn that the government will no longer spend our hard-earned taxes on diaries and calendars. No more governmental coffee table books. No using imported paper for printing of books.

All totally laudable decisions, I hasten to add (especially the indigenous dogs bit) but it all seems a tad beside-the-point-ish in the greater scheme of things. And it is precisely that greater scheme of things that is not being addressed.

4 million cases and rising.

Delhi’s figures are on the increase again. Yet bars are being opened and the metro will re-start from Monday (admittedly with stringent social distancing measures in place, we are told).

And so I sit at home, hunkered down, month after month, and I fret.

I am, of course, grateful that I have a home in which to hunker down, and money for food, and that we are all healthy, touch wood.

I do not take these privileges lightly. In a country like India, where tragically poverty is ever-present, you do not take anything for granted.

But I feel as though our government is taking us for granted.

It is presuming that we can all be diverted by photos of feeding a peacock, or talk of cutting back on departmental calendars.

That, in a nutshell, is why I fret.

Thanks for letting me talk aloud.

Stay safe, everyone.


  1. Frances Sinha

    Brilliant update Christine. Having been at a distance in the UK since last March, will be flying into it all this Thursday . Currently distracted by the bureaucracy of the multiple forms to be uploaded before travel. A form option tells me I am a stranded Oci in the UK!

      1. Saad Bin Jung

        Christine Pemberton no covid 19 in tanzania. No lockdown even for one day. Hospitals are empty. Corona clinics have been dismantled. No one we know has the virus. No one we know is unwell. There is no fear. There is nothing. Tanzania has called their bluff and is winning big time.

      2. Saad Bin Jung

        He took samples from papaya and goats and gave them human names and sent them for testing to the best clinic in the west. All showed positive for corona covid 19. ???? such is the situation ..

  2. Mad Shenker

    These are fretting times. Most of my patients that I see are suffering from extreme stress due to Covid, the political clime and the uncertainty of everything. I know that my emotions, sensitivities and general sense is always on high alert and that’s just stressful in itself. It’s the reason I go out with a camera to remind myself of the beauty of the world and document. it. Meditation and staying in the present is some relief before the next wave of fret and thoughts arrive with tsunamic (is this even a word… it is now) force. And then remember to breathe as it all recedes. Hugs Christine. And pay no attention to the trolls. Write. This is historical.

  3. Devyani Rao

    I too wish for a day when there is something positive to write about in this country that is not overwhelmingly overshadowed by the horrendous reality of our times- political, social and well…Covid-related. Meanwhile, I say keep away from nasty people and to a large extent from the news too.

    1. Christine

      There are days, Devyani, when I am tempted to stop reading the papers and stop listening to the news, but…that is not the way a responsible citizen should be, right? It behoves us all to be aware, just as it behoves our government to keep us informed. Well, I like to think that is how things should be.

      1. Penny Winter

        Christine Pemberton I have always been an avid news reader/listener, believing, like you, that that is what a responsible citizen does, but during lockdown, I distanced myself from the tv and radio. I just read headlines on the BBC website. I think there was a point where i needed to protect myself from the anger and frustration of exposing myself to the incompetence and posturing of our current leaders.

        1. christine

          Penny Winter yes, I know what you mean. AND I follow the UK news online, so there are days when I feel my blood pressure is going to go through the roof. More than anything, it’s the posturing and downright lies that make me furious.

          1. Penny Winter

            Christine Pemberton I decided that it is sufficient to know they lie, I didn’t need to know the specifics as there is nothing I can actually do about those lies other than get angry. What I did decide to do once face masks became mandatory was to make them for friends/acquaintances and to charge £5 for them. All of the money goes to the Hereford food bank. That is something I can do and I suppose is my political protest at the actions/inaction/incompetence of our gvmt.

  4. Liz JS

    I don’t think there’s a government in the world that knows what to do about Covid-19.
    We have to look after ourselves, not expect to be looked after by a bunch of politicians.
    We have to do our own risk assessments. Parties are risky. A wedding or funeral is not a safe space. Clubs are risky. Outdoors is much safer than indoors. Schools are probably ok. Handwashing is much more important than masks, even though masks probably help a bit.
    We have to take our own decisions as individuals and small family groups.
    I totally sympathise with how you feel.

    1. Christine

      Liz, I 100% agree with you about the need to protect oneself. Here, though, we have the added strains of a collapsing economy and serious border issues, neither of which we can control.

    1. Su Sheppard

      Christine Pemberton and I notice his profile on FB is locked!
      But Christine you are not alone in fretting! I think there are many who see their leaders and governments talking about minor issues – and not leading on those issues that are uppermost in our minds. Here it’s Brexit, Covid, the awful attitudes to finance and transparency of this Tory govt. it is very stressful and deeply unsettling! ?

    2. Kiran Tandon

      Arjun Singh
      Criticism, if and when there is, should be welcomed positively, as I do. If you can’t take it, tough!
      However, what is not acceptable is the level of rudeness you have displayed. One really suggests you should wear your boots and start walking out of this page, before you are booted out.

Leave a Reply to Ram Venkatraman Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *