Masked Craze

During our MBA they had told us about the different kinds of culture in the society. There are fashions, trends, fad and craze.

Trends tend to be something which is carried on for a long period of time. Fad is a practice or an interest carried on for a time with exaggerated zeal. Craze is an idea or movement which starts initially with a small number of people and then quickly migrates to the mainstream.

An example of fad which I can think of is the collection of the WWF fighter cards, cricketer’s cards, footballer cards etc. This was sometime during our school days, there was a period where people would collect these cards, and then these would be traded. Games were invented using these. These would be the monetary prize of some matches. I remember watching two people playing our own invention of hand tennis for an undertaker card, the winner getting the card.

Now if you want an example of craze, then you need not look very far, especially if you stay in Mumbai or Pune, all thanks to the imported virus causing H1N1. I knew that we Indians were attracted to anything imported, but did not know that it would affect us in this way.

Anyways H1N1 flu by itself is not the craze, but the masks which the people wear to protect themselves from H1N1 which has turned into a craze. Many people do not even know what it does and why they need to wear it, but just wear it because they have seen others wearing it. In the mornings if you go for walk, the sight you see is of the muzzled dog pulling its masked owner. And yes, it is that way only. It is the dog which is pulling the owner, at least until it reaches its “destination”.

And then everywhere you go, in the local trains, on the roads, in the buses, you will see these masked people. Many would have bought it paying a lot more than what it actually costs. And then you have people who do not have enough money to buy these masks, managing with a handkerchief tied over their mouth and nose. And in the darkness of the night it is sometimes scary when you actually encounter a group of such workers going back home. Not that we are afraid of contacting the deadly virus or anything like that, but with due respects to these hard working people, in their present avatar and in the twilight, they remind us of all those daakus which we had seen in the B-Grade Hindi movies (Now, I know why my mom warned me against watching those movies).

The reason why I call it a craze is because the people using the masks do not know what precautions they have to take to protect themselves from the virus. They do not know that if they take enough precaution there is no need to go around having that mask around their mouth. That mask is useful, if you are having flu like symptoms to prevent it from spreading. But if you want to protect yourself from the virus, then the virus has many other ways of affecting you than just the air borne way. And also you need to discard the masks regularly. Otherwise there is no use of the mask.

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I sometimes feel the only beneficiaries of this craze are the people who are selling these masks. The masks are sold at Rs 20 per piece now, while its actual price is just around Re.1 or Rs 2. That is of the low end masks. Now, if you have a low end, there will be a high end model too. The high end model of course comes in various designs on it. So you will see someone wearing a mask, which has a zip painted on it, or a wide grinning set of teeth. Just the other day I saw a mask, with some certified from XYZ medical institute, being sold online. The price: a whopping Rs 580 and after a 20% discount being sold at around Rs 460. Rs 460 for a piece of cloth which would cover your mouth and there were people buying it. And I believe that the recent fads are the swine flu parties, where you dress up in these masks and go for the party.

We have a saying in kannada – “Bekkige Chellata, Ilige Prana sankata”. I will leave the translation of this into a more capable hand (after trying to translate it for the past 10 mins), but what is happening is something similar to this. These socialites are having a party making swine flu as theme and spending big on a piece of cloth covering the mouth, when there are people dying in the hospital because of the same.

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The hyped world

What has inspired me to write this piece is the main story in today’s paper. “BPO Staffer murdered”, “IT City horrified” screamed TOI. “BPO firm emloyee murdered” announced Hindu. What is it with the BPO employees that cause these papers and the news channel to hype the news??. Well, atleast in the previous case, it was a cause of concern.The lady was picked up from her house in a company van to take her to work, but was duped and killed. It was a shock.

But in this case, it is more like a family fued. The lady went on her own will with her boyfriend after work. She was found murdered the next day. There are just too many ppl who are murdered in this way. Theyleave their work place and never return home. Do the news channel or the paper even mention about all of them, let alone hype it. But once they see the title ‘BPO’, they go on to great lengths to just hype the news and make sure of their monetary collections for the day. And moreover, it is not a news to cause the IT city to be horrified. When mumbai has the courage and bravery to fight back from a bomb explosion which rocked it, do u believe that a city like Bangalore will be horrified, just because a person killed another for some personal reasons??

As far as I know ( and I know very little), this is not in the spirit of journalism. You are not supposed to sensationalize an issue, just to gain some mileage out of it. But that is what is happening in India atleast (I do not want to talk abt the world media as i know not much abt them). This, when coupled with the dumb witted, self centered politicians who care abt nothing else but themselves, is a classic recipe for a disaster. Dunno, what will save India now from disaster