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Last Updated On:  March 14, 2020

Return to basics: staying calm amidst any storm

By Coach Keya

I was born and raised in an upper-middle-class family in suburban India. My mom worked as a high court reporter and my dad as an electrical engineer in an oil company. This was the 1960s-70s. Women were beginning to enter college and were still the anchor of homes. My mom, though a college graduate, grew up in colonial India. Indians had few options when my parents were little children. Hence they grew up with values that supported a simplistic lifestyle. Be nice, take care, share what you have was the basis of this life which was easy to practice for themselves. and impart onto their children. Believing in the practical laws of karma and living in faith was the foundation of their lives. So when my parent's generation were raising us, here’s what we practiced growing up:
  1. Keep your hands to yourself. Hands are to play with and hug your siblings and parents. Hands are for holding toys, books, pens, pencils, and erasers.
  2. Wash your hands, feet, and face before you enter your home from outdoors. Always wash your hands and feet before you come to the dining room or kitchen for food.
  3. There was no toilet paper in the toilet. You washed with water and soap. There was a towel to wipe yourself dry.
  4. Your toilet was separate from your bathroom. Where you did your business and this place was separate from the place you washed your body. We called it taking a bath. This bath was with water in a bucket that you poured over your body before and after soaping your body. A rain shower was for days you didn’t have to rush to school. There was one bathroom in the house, and you couldn’t hog all the time. Everyone took a shower/bath every morning unless the doctor had prescribed “no bath”.
  5. You only drank warm water or hot water, like hot tea. Tea wasn’t caffeinated for kids. In modern days we call these drinks, herbal teas . A virus can’t live in hot water. Remember, the body turns up the heat when you are sick for a reason. The body is busy fighting the alien bodies, we call it a fever.
  6. The body received a sponge bath with a warm washcloth at least once a day during fever. No one lay in the filth the skin has secreted.
  7. During fever, a cold compress on the forehead, so the fever never gets to the head. The head needs to stay cool during all fevers.
  8. Hot herbal teas made of one or more of these herbs are common in most Indian households when I was growing up. To these teas, we added honey before drinking. Honey in hot water kills the goodness of honey. You add honey only to warm water.
    1. Tulsi (holy basil),
    2. Ginger,
    3. Turmeric,
    4. Cumin and black pepper
  9. Once a week, bedding and towels got washed hot water. When someone is sick in the house, they sleep in separate rooms and beds. Every day the sick get a sponge bath. At the same time their bedding, clothes, and towels get washed in hot water.
  10. Since radios ran shows at a certain time, we made sure we heard the programs as a family together.
  11. When TVs came along, it was the same, the family sat together to watch TV. Not everyone in the neighborhood had a TV, so your neighbors showed up at the right time to enjoy the show with you. Before we had a TV, we went to our neighbor’s home to enjoy the TV shows there. Those who bought TV earlier had black and white TV. After 1982, people started buying colored TVs.
  12. We spent all our free time during the day playing outdoors with each other. Our games included climbing trees, hills, mounds, dunes, and anything that was climbable. Kabbadi, tipcats, marbles, hopscotch, hide and seek were our outdoor games. We played in the fields and alleys. After the sun went down we had floor games, in which most of the family participated. Few of the indoor games included chess, Ludo, cards, carrom, hangman, and scrabble. When the sun shone bright on Sunday afternoons we played indoor games. Riding the bike during time-off was my favorite thing to do.
  13. Hanging out with girl-friends until someone came looking for one of us was a favorite pastime.
  14. I grew up without fear. I grew up with measles, pox, whooping cough, malaria, mumps and more. Everyone in the neighborhood got these diseases and more. Some had typhoid, jaundice and more. Moms stayed at home and nursed all the diseases the children brought home. Everyone in the community muscled through all the infections. The best part is people showed up to help each other. When someone was sick in one home, neighbors sent in one dish to help the mom nursing her child. We were always thrilled to have a surprise dish that wasn’t the same old food cooked by our mom. Somehow daal (lentil soup) made by a neighboring auntie tasted better than your own mom’s.
  15. I remember only two children dying when I was growing up. They both had meningitis. No one died from any viral infection. We were nicer to ourselves and each other. It was really easy.
  16. There was no temple or church or mosque we went to make special prayers. No holy man or woman came blessing anyone. Most homes had a photograph or symbol of reverence. People kept their prayers to themselves.
  17. Hospitals always remained opened throughout day and night. People believed that if they were good in the past, they would get good results now. If the death occurred no one blamed anyone. Folks gathered together to comfort each other and carried on with life.
  18. Best about having a sick child at home is, mom is busy with the child and is telling us less of “what to do”.
  19. People always greeted each other with smiling faces, joined hands and a slight bow. It’s part of our DNA and we can still do it.

The current situation in the world over coronavirus isn't different than what people go through when a local calamity strikes. Fires in California, Hurricanes on the east coast, tornadoes in the midwest and Texas, Earthquakes along fault-lines, the various virus and epidemics, gun violence, violence against the marginalized population, nuclear threats, terrorism, racial attacks, cyclones in coastal regions, volcano eruptions are no different than what is going on now. Each time we think it is someone else's problem, not mine. Right now it has become everyone's problem. Only thing is that human memory is so short-lived that when this is all said and done, we will revert to our old ways, which I hope not.

People, in the end, are simple and want similar things. Peace, good health and enough for their loved ones. But then we have an ego that seeks acceptance, hence we strive hard not to be abandoned or rejected by anyone. Out of this fear we struggle. Someone once said, everyone has an armpit and everyone has needs. Focus on what you can do nice for one other sentient being.

Nothing lasts forever, so I know coronavirus won't last forever either. Everything has a life cycle. I would rather focus on how I can be of better use to someone else. Hospitals are open and medical staff are doing their best, so must you and so must be.

If you have stocked up on all the toilet paper, milk, eggs and chicken and the world ends and you don't. What then? Think about that!

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