Photobucket had recently changed their policy and now all the images from my 650+ blog posts are disabled. I am slowly editing them by moving my images to my own server at AWS, but it will take time. In case there is a particular old post you want to see the images of, kindly drop me a mail at and I'll keep that at a high priority. Thank you.

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Chp 823. Blogging frustrations

Today is the last day of June, 2020. Before most of us even realized it, half the year is now over!

Hard to believe, right? Time just... flew past like that. Woooshh.

The worst part for me is, I did nothing productive in these 6 months. At least nothing that I can boast about or be proud of (completing game achievements doesn't count :P ). This is an eye opener for me to turn my life around in the next six months.

The end of June also means that my blogging platform "Blogger" will be moving to a new blogging interface.

Well, today is the last day of June and this has still not been implemented as the default interface, lolz. But I really hope it is not! Because I have tried out the new blogging interface and I hated it. I mean, everything looked cool, from the new "Stats" interface to comments and search operators, but the main feature, that is, the post EDITOR, was super unfriendly to use!

I've been blogging for 16 years now, with over 50 blog posts per year. And in all these 16 years, I always blog by typing whatever I want to write first on an MS Word document, along with all the HTML codes for links and images, and then once I have completed writing and proof-read and am satisfied, I copy-paste the entire text content to the blogger editor (but I make sure I do a "paste as plain text" to remove the MS formatting like div class=“MsoNoSpacing” style=“text-justify:  inter-ideograph” etc).

I mean, you can always type directly on the blogger editor (in fact that's how you're actually supposed to use it), but I'm just more comfortable typing on an MS Word doc first.

For me, I always use MS Word because its kinda like a force of habit, I guess, from the days of using MS Word to type gazillion assignments during my IIM-B days (when I first started blogging) to years of updating my blog from an internet cafe (because home internet connection back then was super expensive and so I had to type everything from an offline home PC first) and finally, my occupations of being a copywriter in an advertising firm and a designer in a gaming agency, where MS Word was still my most frequently used software.

In the new blogger Editor interface (that is supposed to be the default interface from end of June), copy-pasting from an MS Word document didn't work! The HTML commands for links and images that I had typed manually weren't functioning, and when I tried to paste it in the HTML section instead, it converted the HTML commands to plain text! Line breaks were all mixed up too. Arrrrgh, it was super frustrating.

And so I had to revert to the previous interface. To me, this current (old interface) is still one of the best WYSIWYG editors I have come across. And that is why I am praying that the new interface does not become the default interface.

Things like this just make me lose my motivation to blog. Already we know that blogging is a dying past-time, why hammer the last few nails in the coffin?

Another incident that had really frustrated me is that advertisements were starting to appear on my blog posts again! I had deactivated advertisements on my blog a long time ago because I hate the fact that random ads would just appear in the middle of my post. I don't mind having ads at the top or bottom of my post, but not in the freaking middle, spoiling the flow of what I have written.

These ads don't appear on desktop/laptop browser, but you'll see them if you view my recent blog posts from mobile. I even complained about this, showing them proof that my ads setting was turned off, and that there had been no activity on my adsense account, but alas, there seemed to be no solution.

I mean, I wouldn't mind the extra revenue coming in from my blog (especially now that I am unemployed), but I don't want to compromise on money by giving my readers a bad experience. Making money from my blog had never been my intention since I started blogging 16 years ago. And the worst part is, these ads that started appearing on my recent blog posts aren't even from my adsense account! So yeah, I'm still not getting paid for that even if I have no option, lolz.

It is no secret that people don't blog anymore. I mean, look around you, how many friends do you actually have that still blog? I remember the good old days when there were more than 200 active Mizo bloggers, and I found a lot of great friends because of that, many of whom are still one of my closest friends today. But the blogging community is now just a has-been era.

Putting all that into consideration, it is not surprising that Google (owner of blogger platform) no longer prioritizes its blog user-base. Why spend extra resources to sort out someone's advertising issue or editor issue for a platform that has lost its charm, right?

In fact, just recently I found out that many of my old blog links no longer work! When I see my "Facebook memories notification" of a blog link I had shared years ago on my status, clicking that link now leads to a broken link!

So when Google acquired the blogging platform "Blogger" in 2003 and we could use their "blogspot" sub-domain name [example: mizohican [dot] blogspot [dot] com] as our blog link, everything was cool. And then there was a time when blogging reached its pinnacle and a lot of Indians started blogging, and so we were given a new Indian sub-domain ".in" instead of the ".com". And to avoid confusion, using either the ".in" or ".com" link lead back to the same post. However, if you wanted to copy you blog link from the browser address bar, the default sub-domain link generated was the ".in" one.

Now, if I click on any of those old links I had posted before, the ones with ".in" sub-domain name, it leads to a broken link. All blog post links are now back to being just ".com" only. This was probably done to cost-cut on expenses and domain usage, maybe, I don't know.

But the most important question is, did we read about this change anywhere on social media? Did anybody complain about this change of sub-domain name? Nopes. Nothing. That just shows how much of a dying business this is.

Anyway, yeah, I didn't mean to rant so much. I have a lot to say about blog image hosting services too, but I'll stop here for now. Hopefully, the remaining half of 2020 will be better and brighter for us, especially with regards to the ongoing pandemic. And I hope too that these issues with blogging cease to exist too.

Happy Half Yearly greetings to you all, dear friends. Cheers.

Monday, June 22, 2020

Chp 822. 10 Types of Achievements...

...that are really difficult to get.

In my previous post, I wrote about how Steam, the world's largest PC Games distribution platform (around 75% of all PC Gamers) calculates its "Average Game Completion Rate", along with my personal quest to reach at least 50% completion rate before the Steam Summer Sale 2020 starts this coming Thursday (June 25th).

So far, that is going on well.

In this post though, I would like to take you through the 10 types of Game Achievements that I find the toughest to unlock, and the reasons why.

Before I begin, for my non-gaming friends, let me explain that "achievements" are extra features added to a game. Apart from the main mission of a game, you can also unlock various achievement badges for performing certain tasks or reaching certain milestones within that same game. They need not be a part of the main game's "core loop" and are usually optional. It has been proven that achievement badges and trophies have indeed increased the longevity and retention factor of all games by multifold.

Now if you want to compare this with the real world, "achievements" would pretty be the time... you scored your first kiss, or your first break-up, your promotion to senior management, your 1000th bottle of whisky, and so on. In my case, being single for more than three years now is pretty much an achievement unlocked moment :P

There are all sorts of game "achievements" that can be unlocked, from the usual "level completion achievements" in games like "Limbo" and "Hidden Folks", to performing a special combo move in "Mortal Kombat" or crafting a special weapon in "Grim Dawn", the list is endless. Some games have ridiculous achievements, like in "Garry's Mod" there is an achievement called "Yes, I am the real Garry" that you can only get if you stalk the creator of the game Garry on Steam and wait for him to play the game and once he does that, join the same server he's currently in, then only will you get that achievement, lolz.

Yeah, there are a lot of crazy achievements out there.

So without any further delay (because I tend to blabber a LOT whenever I write about gaming) here are the 10 types of achievements that I find it the most difficult to unlock.

#1. Arena Battle Achievements.

Arena Battle games are your typical online PvP games like DOTA2 and Counter-Strike. Some of these games on Steam like CS:GO, Smite, Warframe and even PubG have so many different achievements to unlock that you'll have to play for a very long time to unlock them all, because such games were designed to be replayed many times over. For example, my favourite game in this genre is "Team Fortress 2".

As you can see from my stats above, I have spent a good 555 hours so far playing this game, and I haven't even unlocked 50% of the total achievements in this particular game! That's how extensive the achievements are.

#2. "Ain't Got Time For That" Achievements.

There are some games where you can get "100% achievements" in a couple of minutes, while some other games will take you a few hours, or even days. And then there are games like the classic Age of Empires II. I purchased the HD edition back in 2016, and after more than 100 hours of gameplay, I have unlocked only 12% of the total achievements so far!

I completed the Burmese campaign (I even wrote an extensive guide in this post), and so far, as of today, only 1% of the total AoE players have completed this campaign!

Considering you have to play with every Civilization and win 100+ times each (along with other requirements), some gamers estimated that you'll have to invest tens of thousands of hours to unlock all the achievements, which is something I don't have the time and patience for.

#3. Mandatory Replay Achievements.

In some games, by the time you complete all the main missions, you would have unlocked most of the achievements. There would be a few achievements here and there that you can unlock by replaying some of the quests again. However, in most of the RPG adventure and action games, you will have to play the entire game again, starting from the very beginning while using a different character, so as to unlock the other achievements.

I have faced this issue many times after I have completed the main game. The Borderlands series is one such example.

As you can see from my stats above, I played as "Soldier" class and after 50+ hours of playing, I killed the final boss and completed the game. However, I didn't even unlock half the achievements. To do that, I now have to play the same game again from the beginning as "Berserker" class, "Siren" class or "Hunter" class, and repeat all over again after each completion. Urrrgh.

#4. Mandatory Online Multi-Player Achievements.

In today's age of easy internet connectivity and good speed, you have to be online while playing most games. And that is something I don't mind. What I hate though, are those games that force you to play multi-player co-opt if you want to unlock certain achievements. I'm not talking about those Battle Arena games like DOTA2, TF2, CS:GO, etc., because the very foundation of those games is online multi-player.

I'm talking about RPGs where you must go on a quest with a complete stranger. Worse is when you have to add complete strangers as friends to make it easier to play co-opt together.

"Torchlight II", one of my favourite games because of its similarity to "Diablo", even has achievements based on the number of friends you add! Arrrghhh.

#5. DLC Achievements.

Oh I hate this so much! DLC means "downloadable content", and it is an additional package of a game that will give you extra missions, additional characters, new weapons etc., within the same game. DLC costs extra and you'll have to shell out a couple of $$$ even if you have already bought the main game.

There are many games out there where you can unlock certain achievements ONLY if you purchase and play the DLC. Developers do this as a strategy to make people buy their DLCs, but gamers feel this is a very cheap tactic because they have already spent a lot of money buying the main game. I have many such games in my library with incomplete achievements because of bloody DLCs, and the one example I will give is the "Sniper Elite" series.

I've already completed the above game, I even replayed many missions multiple times to unlock other achievements, but I will never be able to 100% it because I don't own the DLCs. Bummer.

#6. "Too Difficult" Achievements.

These are achievements that are really difficult to unlock. Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining about this type of achievements, because after all, achievements are supposed to be hard and challenging, or else they lose their sense of achievement. That mental satisfaction and moral accomplishment are no longer there if they are too easy to unlock.

One such example would be the "Metal Slug" series.

It is an old classic arcade shooter game, ported to Steam and other platforms because of its popularity. Completing the game is not very difficult, but there is an achievement that can be unlocked only if you complete the entire game without dying even once. Now that is really tough to unlock, lolz, and I don't think I ever will.

#7. "Too Embarrassed to Play" Achievements.

Hehe, believe me when I tell you this, there are also a lot of weird games out there, games that you don't want your other Steam friends or even your family members to see you playing :D Just out of curiosity, I purchased a few of them (note the curiosity angle), but after a few minutes of playing, I had to make sure I was alone in the room while playing, lolz.

As you can see from above, I have unlocked only one achievement each from "Hunie Pop" and "Panty Party" as I was too embarrassed to play them anymore. "Hunie Pop" is a dating simulator game where you must hone your "wooing" skills to date a couple of virtual chicks. I think I installed this game during the second year of my single bachelorhood :D And "Panty Party" is an action RPG game where you must fly around as a panty and battle other evil panties! :D :D :D

#8. "Specific Time" Achievements.

There are many games out there that require you to play the game at a specific date or month of a year in order to unlock some of its achievements. For example I've just unlocked 24 of the 25 achievements of this puzzle game called "RUSH". The last achievement can be unlocked if I play a series of level that will be available only during December.

"Pictopix" is one of my favourite nonogram puzzle games (I'll write a separate post on that genre), and one of the achievements called "Four Seasons" can be unlocked only if you play one particular level on all four seasons of the year.

The same level even has different solutions for all four seasons!

So yeah, if you're someone like me who don't want to cheat the system by using SAM (Steam Achievement Manager) or manipulating your computer's internal clock, you'll have to wait an entire year to unlock this one achievement :)

And if you think that is insane, then you haven't played this game called "The Stanley's Parable" :D

As you can see above, I have already completed the game, but I'm far from unlocking all the achievements. One of the achievements called "Go Outside" can be unlocked only if you play this game again after five years! During those five years, if you launch the game even by mistake, the clock resets itself and you'll have to wait another five years, lolz.

Totally crazy. :D

#9. "Early Access" Achievements.

An "Early Access" game is one where developers (usually Indie games developers) release a game that is not yet 100% functioning to the public. The money from that purchase is then used to further fund the development of the same game. During "Early Access", gamers report bugs and other issues, while developers listen to feedback and suggestions. Gamers also usually do not give negative reviews caused by bugs if the game is still in "Early Access".

Now some developers reward their "Early Access" customers by giving them an exclusive "Early Access" achievement badges. The problem with this is that, once the game is finalized and in "stable release", then anybody buying that game after that can no longer achieve the "Early Access" achievement, lolz. Some games like AoE have fixed this issue, while this is still there in games like "DiRT Rally".

#10. Buggy Achievements.

Coming to the last point of this post, this is the one type of achievement I HATE THE MOST. I mean, like, literally loathe. And with over 1000+ games in my library, I have quite a lot of these games. These are the games where you do everything that is required to unlock the achievement, but the achievement does not unlock because of bugs. Aaaarrrgghhhhh.

Many developers listen to their customers and fix the so called bug, but there are also many others who simply don't care enough to listen to the complaints. Square Enix is one such developer. One of their games on Steam (ported from mobile) is "Hitman GO", a turn-based puzzle game. In that game, I have completed every criteria required to unlock the achievements, but only 14 of the 26 achievements have unlocked for me, because of bugs. And yes, their discussion forum is filled with people reporting the bugs, but the company just doesn't seem to care.

Fuck them.

And so, these are my 10 types of Game Achievement that are really difficult to unlock. Hope you enjoyed reading the post. Until my next update then, cheers. :)

Friday, June 19, 2020

Chp 821. Game Achievements

As I mentioned in my blog update yesterday, I've finally set up my computer here at home, six months after packing it up in Pune. I even forgot my login password, and thanks to Sanga and Hiren BootCD, we managed to solve that problem [read my previous post on how to reset Windows 10 password].

And so, for the past three weeks, I've been doing almost nothing but play games the whole day. With over 1000+ games in my Steam library collection, there were soooo many games I haven't played even once, and so, this lockdown was the perfect time to catch up on those games.

I installed a lot of games since then, like Borderlands 2 and Borderlands Pre-Sequel, Epistory, Gaucameleel, Mass Effect, Terraria, L4D, Metal Slug, Human: Fall Flat, OneShot, etc., along with "small games" like minimalistic puzzle games and brain teasers (my favourite casual gaming time-pass).

It was only around four days ago that I happened to look at my Steam profile and saw that my Average Game Completion Rate had drastically fallen to 48%!!!

Oh nooooss!

I mean there is no written rule or law that says one must maintain a certain % completion rate, nor does it affect one's profile physically in any way, but I've always maintained a completion rate of above 50% because that is a nice number, and it also shows other gamers that you're serious about the games you play.

Of course it's not possible to know how much a player has actually progressed in each game because most games do not have a linear progression or even a definitive ending. It's not like the good old days of Super Mario Bros where you move from world 1-1 to 1-2 to 1-3 and so on until you reach the last stage, world 8-4, and defeat Bowser, only for the ungrateful princess to send you on the same linear quest all over again, albeit a bit more difficult.

No, games have evolved so much since then. There are many games with countless different endings and multiple outcomes, games with NO endings, sandbox games that don't even have beginnings, arena battle games that may be short but replayed infinite number of times, and even games that have missions which can be played only at a specific date & time of a year! Hence it is impossible to know what % of a game a player has actually completed.

To counter that, Valve Corporation, the company that owns Steam, had decided to use the in-game achievements of different games as a metric to measure game completion rate. It's definitely not perfect, but it is the closest method of measuring one's progress as most games have achievement unlock criteria based on different milestones within the game.

Here's a comprehensive thread on how Achievement Rate is calculated by Valve.

To put it plainly, suppose Game 1 has 500 achievements and Game 2 has only 5 achievements, and you have played for many hours and managed to unlock 300 of the 500 achievements in Game 1, while you got 4 of the 5 achievements in Game 2. Then your completion rate in Game 1 (300/500) is 60%, whereas in Game 2, your completion rate (4/5) is 80%.

You actually get a higher percentage from Game 2 even though the number of achievements unlocked from Game 1 is more. This is quite fair because, like I said before, not all games are the same or follow a linear progression, so they definitely cannot have the same uniform number of achievements. (This also discourages developers from spamming a game with multiple useless achievements).

And the Average Completion Rate of the two games above, that is, 60% and 80%, is (60+80)/2 which is 70%.

Thadaaa, 70%, this is your current Average Game Completion Rate. This amount is re-calculated every time you play a new game and unlock the first achievement of that game. In a way, having a high rate kinda fills you with a small sense of accomplishment and pride :)

So how did my completion rate reduce so much? It was because, like I mentioned above, I started playing a lot of new games recently, which increased the denominator value in the above equation. Hence, 48%.

Now let's be clear, there is absolutely nothing wrong in having a low completion rate, this is just how I personally feel about gaming. It's like... how women always say they are dressing up for a party not because they want to make their man feel good but rather because they want to make themselves feel good. Well, this is my ladies make-up moment. I want to have at least a 50% Average Game Completion Rate because it makes me feel good. :)

How do I bring this value up again? Simple mathematics. I must stop playing new games so that the denominator does not increase further, and keep playing a lot of my old games that I have already played before and try to get 100% achievement in those games (also known as "Perfect Games") so as to increase the numerator value.

And that's what I've been doing for the past four days now :D. Those of you who are my "friends" on Steam will notice your daily activity feed like this...

Lolz, yeah, sorry for spamming you all, but my aim is to bring my completion rate to 50% before the Steam Summer Sale starts, which is this coming June 25th, so I'm just playing all my previously installed games until I 100% them, or at least come as close as possible to 100 percenting them.

So until then, cheers everyone, and happy gaming to you all.

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Chp 820. Hiren to the rescue!

I wrote my last blog update from Pune on November 27th, 2019, and then packed up my computer for the Movers & Packers to send to Mizoram.

I left Pune two days later, and my belongings reached Mizoram two weeks later.

We unpacked all my stuff slowly, box by box, but the one thing that remained unopened was my computer set. Since I was finally moving back to Mizoram permanently, my family was of the opinion that I shouldn't unpack my computer stuff in my bedroom upstairs, as I spend most of my time in front of my computer. Instead, they said I should unpack my computer downstairs because I was the "man of the house" now and I should be ready to welcome any visitors etc.

Our tiny office room by the main door was a good place to unpack my system, as it even has our CCTV monitor. Perfect place to spend time on the computer while at the same time vigilantly checking the CCTV feed for intruders & shenanigans, you know, the role of a "man of the house" :P The only problem was, my sister's stuff were still in that room. Long story short, with all the CoVid-19 lockdown and stuff going on, I didn't unpack my computer for a very long time as I was anyway using my sister's laptop to update my blog.

Finally on 23rd May, 2020, almost exactly 6 months after I packed up my computer in Pune, I decided to set it up. My fingers trembled as I ripped apart the multiple layers of packaging material and bubble wrappings. Nothing was broken. Like a hyperactive 6 years old opening his Christmas present from Santa Claus excitedly, I unpacked everything and assembled my computer. Finally, everything was ready, all my hard disks and RAMs and VGA cards etc., all properly attached, as well as my 43" Panasonic TV that I use as my monitor.

With one anticipated push of a button, my machine came back to life. Six months of slumber, now ready to function as it has been designed to. The wonder of mankind's creation whirred for a few seconds, spluttered out a few bits and bytes, and finally threw open the Windows login screen!


Except... there was one problem.

I could no longer remember my password!

Lolz. Yeah, that was such an anti-climax build-up.

So the thing is, I used to use my office workstation password for my home PC password as well, so that I won't forget my workstation password. And in an ironic twist of fate, I could no longer remember that password :D

The thing about office workstation passwords is that, you should never use any of your regular passwords like personal email password, bank password, social media account password, etc etc., because your office IT department has total access to that password. Yes, in case you didn't know that, now you do. Never use your regular passwords for any of your office related passwords.

I used the default password format given to me by our IT department, as I didn't have anything to hide from my colleagues or bosses. I only changed the last few numerical values whenever our IT server prompted me to change the password due to expiration, and every time I changed it, I would also immediately change my home PC password upon reaching home, so that I will remember that new password.

But it had been 6 months since I last typed that password!

After trying more than 100 different password combinations that were all incorrect, I asked my former colleagues for help, and they too sent me all the different possible password formats used in office and I tried all sorts of different permutations, but to no avail. I even called up Irfan and Sidhi from our IT department, asking them if they could retrieve the last password I had used on my workstation. They tried their best, but unfortunately, it had been six months since my system was formatted, so that data was no longer in their records. Drats!

Eventually, there was no other option but to hard reset it. To do that from command prompt, I needed a Win10 boot-up drive, which I didn't have, so one of my friends Thanpuia came to my house and gave me his. Together, we tried all sort of methods, from replacing utilman.exe with cmd.exe to editing system32 and using PCUnlocker, but nothing worked.

We looked at every different solution online, but of course, the main problem we faced was that most of these solutions which might have worked in the past before, were no longer valid because of continuous firmware and software updates. We gave up that night.

The next day, Sanga came over to my place to help me out.

His process was super simple! All that you require, is a pen-drive and a working computer with an internet connection. Here are the steps:

Step 1. Format the pen-drive. A 2 GB pen-drive is more than enough.

Step 2. Using a different computer, download Hiren OS.

Step 3. Burn the ISO onto the pen-drive.

Step 4. Plug in that pen-drive to the computer with forgotten password.

Step 5. Start the computer and boot-up from pen-drive.

Step 6. Thadaaa, your computer is now alive, running on Hiren BootCD.

Step 7. Go to Windows, Start Menu, Security, Passwords, NT Password, and reset it. Done!

Step 8. Restart system, remove Hiren drive and let the computer boot-up normally using the existing Windows 10 OS.

And that was it. The Windows password prompt was no longer there and everything loaded properly, nothing was changed or deleted, my system was just as it was back in Pune.

So simple!

Just eight steps, and if you already have a Hiren boot-up drive, then you can skip the first few steps and start directly from Step 5. In less than 10 minutes, my problem was solved. Thanks a lot, Sanga. And thank you too, Thanpuia, for at least attempting :D

For the love of God, I have no idea why such a simple solution does not come up on Google search. Try looking it up yourself, search for "Windows 10 password reset", this Hiren OS solution will not appear in the first few pages (unless of course you directly include "Hiren" in the search query, duh).

Maybe the moral of the story is, you can't google everything :) That the best things in life can only be learnt from work experience and not through short-cut searches. So deep, much wow. :P

And that was it. I got to gaming immediately once my system was set up. Hope you find this post useful in case one day you too forget your password.

Cheers for now.

Thursday, June 11, 2020

Chp 819. Mizoram 100+

June 2020 started off very well for Mizoram. On the 1st of June, 2020, Mizoram was still having the unique status of being the only Indian state with no active CoVid-19 positive case. [read: Mizoram Zero]

And then the tables turned quickly from there on, and by the 2nd of June, twelve new cases were detected. [read: Mizoram 12]

Things spiralled down pretty quickly from there on, and as of this morning, 11th June, 0700 hours, Mizoram has more than 100 active CoVid-19 cases!

The number you see above may increase by the time you read this post as there are more than 200 tests awaiting results as of today, according to DIPR.

The Government of Mizoram too declared a Total (but not exactly total) Lockdown across the state earlier this week as the number of detected cases started increasing.

However, this ongoing Total Lockdown is very different from the first Total Lockdown we experienced. Most shops are allowed to open (but at specific timings, which differ from locality to locality), state borders are open, there is no curfew, all government departments are operational, and even home quarantine is allowed for those entering the state. It's like a "Lite" version of a Total Lockdown.

Well, is the government correct to declare such a lenient Total Lockdown in spite of crossing 100+ positive cases? That's not for me to say or opine because I'm sure the government is doing what it thinks is best for the people and the state, but here's a question I would like to ask you all - Are you scared?

I mean, of course I know you're all worried. So am I. And it is perfectly natural to feel so. But you aren't exactly as paranoid as you were three months ago, right? That same level of anxiety or panic that seeped through our community is no longer there.

Some of you may have short-term memories, but I still remember how all of us felt at the beginning of this pandemic. The beauty of blogging is that we pen down all our thoughts and feelings right when something happens, and when those memories start to fade, we recollect those thoughts by revisiting our old blog posts.

The amount of fear we all felt back when we had just ONE positive patient was astronomical compared to how we feel today with 100+ positive patients. And this is evident not just from an individual's point of view but from the way our government is handling this situation.

We're no longer as scared as before because we have slowly come to accept the ground realities.

The psychology behind this is simple - this is because of the Kübler-Ross model, more popularly known as "The Five Stages of Grief". Your psychologist friends will know what I'm talking about, you know, those people who wish each other with: "Hello, how am I?" "Oh you are fine, how about me?" greetings. :D :P

Just kidding, psychologists are one of my favourite people because there's just something so intriguing about them, the way they speak and communicate, how they perceive things in general. The Five Stages of Grief, also known as DABDA (Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance), is a popular structure and framework used by grief counsellors to handle patients with anxiety, depression and trauma.

From my observations, these are the five stages that we have seen in our Mizo community:

Stage #1. Denial.

Remember how we all felt in the beginning when we had our first positive patient? We tried to convince ourselves that the test result could be wrong because back then we didn't have a testing facility in Mizoram and so it was done at Silchar Medical College. And the fact that he was a Pastor, a Man of God, further made it harder for some of us to believe the news.

Stage #2. Anger.

Once the confirmation had sunk in and he was admitted at ZMC Hospital, we were no longer in denial. Some people expressed their anger, accusing him of being irresponsible and endangering the rest of us for returning to Mizoram. A few others even wrote scathing posts and comments on social media, attacking not just about him but his family as well. That was indeed a sad day for our Mizo ethos.

Stage #3. Bargaining.

As we remained confined to our homes under a strict lockdown rule, gospel revival movement on television took off like never before. We prayed and prayed, asking God for forgiveness, and many spiritual speakers even proclaimed that Mizoram will be cleansed of this virus once we have all atoned for our sins. We felt immense guilt and desperation to change our life, which were all a part of the bargaining stage.

Stage #4. Depression.

This is the point where we all felt helpless and empty inside. And the fact that people just kept forwarding more and more unfavourable news on WhatsApp, even factually incorrect ones, made it even worse. We felt like we were trapped in this twisted and terrifying nightmare that we desperately wanted to wake up from. The daily ritual of staying behind locked doors and listening to the local town-crier announce information seemed to somehow drain us of all senses, including life itself.

Stage #5. Acceptance.

Now that there are more than 100 times the number of our original patient, we ironically seemed to be pretty cool about it. This is because we have reached the acceptance stage. Slowly, we have learnt to accept that this virus is not just going to go away any time soon, and that many of us cannot just stay locked up inside our homes forever because we have mouths to feed, businesses to save, and lives to live.

Those are the Five Stages of Grief and I think this is where we are currently, based on my observation - The acceptance stage.

By the way, these are all just my own interpretation of the Five stages of Grief within our Mizo community, and it should by no means be taken as a professional insight or technical postulation because I have absolutely no degree or experience in psychology.

I could be wrong in many of the aspects above. Even Elisabeth Kübler-Ross herself admitted that the stages do not necessarily follow a linear progression as everybody deals with grief in a different way, while other notable psychologists pointed out that the Kübler-Ross model is just a theory with no empirical evidence. David Kessler also mentioned that the stages may repeat themselves, and there need not be a definite end point as well.

Having said all that, just take this as a layman's observation, the musings of a blogger with too much time in his hands.

Like I mentioned before, we should be mentally prepared to face more negative news about new positive people from the thousands of Mizos who returned home recently. Crossing the Century threshold in just a few days seems alarming, but the saving grace is that, at least all the infected people are our recent returnees, and there has been no case of community transmission... yet.

Hitting a century is usually a remarkable achievement, but in this case, it is a milestone that we neither want nor need. From the number 1 position in the official Indian CoVid-19 chart under "active cases", we fell down to the 9th position in less than two weeks.

Remember, we can face this together. It is only the first time experience that leaves the biggest impact, and after that, a repetition feels normalized. We have seen this happen to us during the past three months. I'm not just talking about the acceptance stage that I have mentioned above. Take for example, the ambulance that carried the remains of a departed Mizo from Chennai to Mizoram.

Yes, you all remember that one, right? It was all over our Mizo social media. People hailed the drivers and the Mizo companion as heroes. They were given gifts and accolades at almost every town in Mizoram that lies in their path. Mizos shared their story and pictures everywhere, from Facebook and Instagram to WhatsApp statuses.

Now, do you know how many such ambulances carrying the remains of other Mizos entered Mizoram after that?

Yup, me neither.

I know at least five such ambulances but I definitely do not know the total. Because, people stopped talking about the next one and there weren't that many shares and likes on social media either. Suddenly, the next instances weren't considered to be that much share-worthy anymore.

Similarly, when the first batch of Mizos returned to Mizoram by train from Chennai, everybody was talking about it. Even I wrote a blog post about them. People praised the CMWA (Chennai Mizo Welfare Association) for what they did, and the Mizo welfare leaders were highlighted and even interviewed all across Mizo social media platforms (and they rightfully deserved to be praised too).

But how many other trains from other cities entered Mizoram after that batch, how many other Mizo welfare leaders of other cities worked tirelessly to send home Mizos too? Those news never made as much impact as the first batch.

The point I'm trying to make is, even this current situation will soon feel normalized, so don't feel disheartened. We need to adjust our lifestyle and carry on with our lives amidst the pandemic, while following all the rules laid out by the authorities. It is the least we can do for all our frontline workers who are the ones in the thick of the battle. We owe them that much.

I hope my next blog update do not see a very large increase in the number of positive cases. With more than 200 test results pending, which might be announced tonight, let's keep our fingers crossed and continue praying for all our doctors, nurses, lab technicians and other frontliners out there.

We will prevail.

See you all in my next update. Cheers.

Tuesday, June 02, 2020

Chp 818. Mizoram - 12 positive

After enjoying  a status of being the only Indian state with no active CoVid-19 case for a few days, Mizoram is now back to being an infected state again, after 12 people were tested positive late last night.

All 12 of them are recent returnees, with 10 from Delhi batch and 2 from Kolkata batch according to DIPR tweet. "All of them had been quarantined at their designated Quarantine Centres upon their arrival in Mizoram, so there is no need for panic," assured DIPR in another tweet.

My cousin Dr. Mash too left immediately this morning for ZMC Hospital, Falkawn, the only hospital in Mizoram designated to treat CoVid-19 patients.

And now, she'll be at ZMC indefinitely until everybody's cured. Will the size of the dedicated CoVid-19 medical team be increased now that there is 12 times the number of patient they had initially treated? Will the number of beds in the ICU and Isolation ward along with ventilators be increased? I guess we'll know those answers soon enough in the next few days.

Meanwhile, for the medical team at ZMC, this means getting back to a life of complete isolation from the outside world. This also means reverting back to their daily grind of working in uncomfortable PPE suits for hours within a contagious environment.

If you're interested, you can read about what the nurses and doctors of ZMC go through every day in this post - ZMC CoVid-19 Warriors (though this was written back when they had just one positive patient, things will be much more hectic now as there are currently 12 patients).

In spite of all that, when I walked into Mash's bedroom this morning, she was all prepped up and ready to fight the battle for all of us again. Her bags were packed and ready to go.

She didn't have much luggage at all for an indefinite stay at ZMC, and she said this was because most of her stuff was still at the hospital as they knew this day would eventually come...

And so we bid her a sad and uncertain goodbye as her colleague, Dr. NTa Sailo, Respiratory Medicine Specialist, came to pick her up.

Bye bye Mash! Stay safe.

Everything felt so surreal, how things could change so drastically in just a couple of hours. Just last night, we were celebrating Mash's birthday with a cake and small family dinner, having our small share of fun and relaxation, completely oblivious of the tsunami ahead.

Now that the CoVid-19 wards of ZMC are functioning again, let us remember to keep all of them in our prayers. Meanwhile, the best we can do to flatten the curve is to obey all rules implemented by the government and LLTF.

As the DC of Kolasib stated this morning, there is absolutely no reason for anybody to panic as all 11 people tested positive are from the same Thingdawl Polytechnic Quarantine Facility, and they had all been following all quarantine guidelines right down to the letter. Their beds and rooms had been sealed off from the rest of the inmates and staff of the Quarantine facility, and Contact Tracing had been completed. Moreover, a 5 KM radius from the Quarantine facility had been declared a Containment Zone and the National Highway leading to the place had been blocked.

Still, the after-shock of this grave news was noticeable even here in my locality. For instance, all shops were ordered to close down immediately this morning at 6 AM from our locality loudspeakers. LLTF members patrolled the streets to make sure people were following this rule. The roads were deserted in just a few minutes as everybody read the news about our new positive patients.

On a comical side though, our locality crier [read more about the town criers of Mizoram here] did lighten up the mood this morning by announcing some funny stuff, like for instance, he said, "In our Mizo community, it is a common practice for our elders to tell us to go and buy this or that from a shop outside. We obey them dutifully because that is our Mizo way of life, our zonunmawi. However, right now, it is ok to say no to such errands." :D

Also, he tried announcing in Hindi, lolz. I guess the person who was supposed to announce in Hindi hadn't reached the office yet, he started off slowly... "Bahar mat jao" and then there was a long silence and then he continued in a very low-key tone, "Ghar jao". :D :D

With 12 people positive so far, let us keep our fingers crossed that the numbers do not increase. But at the same time, as I mentioned in my previous update, let us be prepared to expect the worst as we still have our brothers and sisters returning home every day.

Today, the train from Maharashtra carrying our fellow Mizos from Mumbai and Pune is bound to arrive. Due to the railway track repair work going on at Badarpur-Lumding section, they will disembark at Guwahati instead of Bairabi, and will continue their journey on buses [source].

Let us continue to keep them in our prayers too, as they had already been through a terrible ordeal, from over-crowded compartments to a tragic death in the form of an accident. On top of all that, they are coming from a state with the highest infection in India, so the chances of more people testing positive are quite high.

I hope I can update better news in the coming days. Only time will tell. Until then, see you all, folks. God bless you all.