The Virus, the Namaste, the Humor!


The coronavirus COVID-19, declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization, has taken the world by storm. It has carried with it a trail of confusion, controversy, chaos, and saddest of all, death. Quarantine facilities have been set up, travel bans have been issued by nations, educational institutions have been closed across different places, and many organizations have allowed employees to work from home. Major sports events have been cancelled, stock markets have crashed, and fear resides in the hearts of many. Even the world famous Mount Everest is closed to climbers.There is uncertainty as to when this crisis will really end.

The British Health Minister Nadine Dorries, NBA stars Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell, actors Tom Hanks and his wife Rita Wilson, and most recently Sophie Trudeau, the wife of the Canadian Prime Minister are among the most well-known people that have been tested positive for Corona.. US President Donald Trump finally got tested for the virus, and the results were negative. However, his initial reluctance and indifference in the light of his contact with Fabio Wajngarten, a Brazilian official who tested positive, raised concerns. Why he skirted the issue and portrayed irresponsible behavior is a subject that needs serious thinking.

Just in the case of any such outbreak, we do not know what is actually right and what isn’t. As paranoia rules, we keep wondering what is the best plan of action. Health professionals have come up with helpful tips for the public on ways to keep themselves safe. Among the guidelines offered, what emerges as the most important is to wash hands frequently. The result is a tremendous shortage of hand sanitizers with consumers in panic mode!

Quartz, in an article “What hand-sanitizer shortages on Amazon reveal about global supply”, cited an example of how an 8-ounce bottle of Purell normally sold at $2.50 is being sold at nearly twenty times its price. It’s heartbreaking how ethics have gone for a toss with opportunists taking advantage of the situation even in such a sad state of affairs!

In the midst of everything, India’s namaste has gone global and emerged as one of the life savers. Since hand-shaking is not advised out of fear of catching germs, the namaste is the safest way to exchange pleasantries. The state of Karnataka has even launched the “Namaste Over Handshake” campaign to encourage people to greet each other with folded hands and avoid physical contact. Dignitaries across the world have followed suit too. At the investiture ceremony in Buckingham Palace, Prince Charles greeted recipients with a namaste, fearing the spread of the coronavirus . With fresh memories of his recent trip to India, it was perhaps too easy for President Trump to resort to a namaste and say hello to Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar. Among others, French President Emmanuel Macron joined the bandwagon when he welcomed King Felipe of Spain and his wife with palms pressed together and a slight bow!

“A sense of humor is God’s antidote for anger and frustration,” goes a saying by Rick Warren. It’s true that humor makes us smile and brightens our day. In the middle of a global outbreak killing thousands, the internet is flooded with jokes and memes related to the coronavirus. Some of these do make us laugh and help us get through the panic. There was this clip with an airplane flying with a mask to avoid the virus in the air. Another message warns people not to send emojis with open mouth through WhatsApp or Facebook so as to not spread the virus. These jokes definitely give us a few light-hearted moments.

But when does humor cross the line? The coronavirus has brought with it a deluge of unacceptable parodies. It smells of a sick sense of fun when these memes are tinged with racial shades or when they make fun of any disability. Those of us who have the values of human empathy and acceptance can never laugh at those memes.

Now what is our role in these turbulent times? Let’s take all precautions as advised and perhaps stock up on essential commodities in the event of upcoming shortages or possible quarantines!Also, if possible, we can minimize our social gatherings for the time being. And yes, as moralizing as it may sound, let’s be hopeful and positive, maintain our composure, and be humane. So here’s a toast to keeping your sunny side up and staying safe!

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(A version of this article appeared as a Featured post in Women’s Web )


  1. Very well written…Humanity needs to stand united in these critical hours… Pray for thy neighbor.

  2. Very nice and well written, Rashmi! I think we should continue using the Namaste greeting even after this pandemic is over. It’s much nicer and more honoring of the other person than a handshake!

  3. So so time – appropriate !
    HELP yourself And HELP others should be the Clarion call for humanity to survive in this critical juncture of our lives in this wonderful world !
    All covered , well -done ,Rashmi dear !

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