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Saturday, July 24, 2021

Chp 865. Triple Vaccinated!

Vaccine Vaccine Vaccine! These days, everybody's talking about CoVid-19 vaccines.

From the demand of vaccines to the shortage of vaccines, from creating vaccine awareness to spreading anti-vax propaganda, from being simply vaccine hesitant to rigidly believing that Bill Gates had implanted a microchip in each vaccine to boost 5G cellular coverage for the arrival of the antichrist. The list is endless.

And on top of ALL those talks and debates on CoVid vaccines, I of course had to go one step further - I not only got my first dose of the vaccine but also got two other vaccines - Tetanus and Rabies. :D

Ahhh what a life I live. I always have to do something different or unique. :D

So what happened was, I got bitten by a dog!

Yeah, my first dog-bite actually.

Three weeks ago, my dear aunt was admitted at Greenwood Hospital for a surgery. She's discharged and fine now, thanks to the doctors and God. My cousin and his wife stayed with my aunt in the hospital during that entire time, and since there was nobody at their house, I took up the responsibility of taking care of their dog, Toby.

Meet Toby.

Yeah, don't let that cute smile and wagging tail fool you. Toby is one of the most timid and introvert dogs I've ever known, lolz. During the first 2 days I was taking care of him, he was hiding under the chair the entire time!

So my job was pretty simple. I would go down to their house at around 7 in the morning to switch off their balcony lights and unlock the door to let Toby out.

Toby would usually run around their yard, exercising his legs or sniffing the ground.

And sometimes he would poop too...

After that, I would lock him up inside the house again and then return around 10 AM to feed him his breakfast.

Around 6 PM when it's dark, I would go to their house again to switch on the balcony lights, unlock the door to let Toby out...

...feed him dinner...

...and then wait for him to pee and poo.

After that, I would wish him goodnight, lock up their house and head back home (we all live in the same colony). The next day, the same routine would repeat again.

Toby quickly recognized me and warmed up to me. He no longer barked at me when he heard me approaching their gate, and he would always greet me with his tails wagging from one end to the other the moment I unlocked the door.

On the 29th of last month, like every other day, I went and opened the door for him at around 7:45 AM.

He was so cheerful and friendly that I took a picture and even sent the image to my girlfriend.

Since my old phone had died and I didn't back-up any images, I asked my girlfriend to send me a screenshot of my message that day (hence the reason why I'm on the other side).

At around 10:15 AM, I went to their house again to feed him breakfast. Toby was excited to see me as usual, especially because I brought him delicious food - a bowl of rice and chicken.

As he scrumptiously munched his food, I suddenly had this urge to pet him because he was looking sooo adorable. And so I reached out my hand towards his head, when suddenly he turned around and bit my hand, growling at me as if I was his sworn nemesis!


I was so shocked to see the sudden change in his behaviour that I almost didn't notice my fingers which were bleeding profusely. I ran to the kitchen sink immediately and washed my wounds.

Yeah I know, the above wounds don't look very serious or painful now. That's because I had already washed away all the blood.

This was the message I immediately sent to my girlfriend too. Notice the sudden change in my affection towards Toby. :D

Lalani told me to put my hand under running tap water and wash with soap for at least 10 minutes, so as to reduce the chance of getting an infection. Perks of having a super awesome Vet girlfriend. :D

Once the bleeding stopped, I called up my cousin at the hospital and told him what his dog did to me, and he was like, "Ah yes, don't disturb him while he's eating, he even growls at me if I try to take away his bowl before he's done!"

Great! Now he tells me! :D

I asked him when was the last time he got Toby vaccinated, and he was like, probably 2-3 years ago. Aaarrgghhh.

I looked at Toby, who was all well fed by then and playfully wagging his tails at me, as if nothing had just happened. I gave him a stern look and asked, "Do you NOT know the proverb, "Do not bite the hand that feeds you"? Huh huh? Do you?" To which he replied with a quick nod.

I called up my friend Dr. Mahminga, owner of Waggin' Tails Pet Clinic, and asked him if he had any rabies and tetanus vaccines, but he told me that only human hospitals sold them.

Lalani too was adamant about me taking the two vaccines as soon as possible, partly because she loved me so much, but mostly because I had earlier sent her a photo of a rat that Toby had killed. :D

But because of the ongoing lockdown, I didn't want to take the trouble of going to the LC office to ask for a permit to go to the hospital. My aunt's surgery was going to take place a few days later anyway, so I decided to wait for that moment.

On the day of my aunt's surgery, we got a permit to go to Greenwood Hospital. Security was very tight at the hospital, and anybody who had to enter the hospital for an appointment or check-up was thoroughly tested for CoVid-19.

It was a tad funny watching the nurses sit at the hospital entrance shout into a loudspeaker, asking the patient who was 50 meters away inside a testing booth all sorts of personal questions, like did he or she had any positive contacts, were they vaccinated, and so on.

The people inside the testing booth didn't have any loudspeaker so they would shout back their replies, "NEI LOOO... NEI TAWHHH... ZARKAWTTT... KUM SAWMTHUMM... OPDDD...." Lolzz.

Thanks to my cousin Dr. Mahruaii (in picture below), I was able to get my rabies and tetanus vaccines from a doctor inside without entering the hospital or going through those publicised private questions. :D

My aunt's surgery took place successfully and my cousin came outside to inform us about the news. There were around 10-15 of us cousins waiting at the parking lot. Once we heard the good news, we all went home relieved.

Back at home, I went to my neighbour U Lawmzuali's house and her daughter Tluangi, a nurse, injected me with the tetanus vaccine and first dose of rabies vaccine.

The three doses of rabies vaccine were to be injected on day 0, 3 and 7, and so Tluangi injected me on all three days. Thanks to her, I am now fully vaccinated against rabies and tetanus.

My right arm that took the tetanus shot was quite swollen for a few days, whereas my left arm that took all three rabies shots didn't even feel one tiny pinch.

Ever since I took those rabies shots, I no longer have the urge to bark at other dogs or howl at the moon, so I guess the vaccine was very effective. In fact, my face is now slowly returning to its human form too. Yayy.

And so that was it, my tryst with triple vaccines. If you're still reading till here, please do get vaccinated against CoVid-19, and also don't forget to get your tetanus shot once every 10 years. You never know where those next bites can come from. Stay safe everyone. God bless.

Monday, July 19, 2021

Chp 864. Hello OnePlus 9R

Last month, my OnePlus 6 phone suddenly stopped charging. No matter how many different OnePlus chargers I used, my phone absolutely refused to charge. Even with the phone kept on airplane mode and a charger continuously connected to it, the battery kept draining and draining...

20%... 10%... 5%... 3%.. 1%... Finally, dead.

And so that was it. The end of my 3 years old beloved OnePlus 6 phone.

I've been a OnePlus fan since its launch in 2014. I know I've mentioned this on my blog before, but I'll say it once again - I'm one of the first persons in India to own a OnePlus phone. :D

When OnePlus One phone was first launched globally in April 2014 through exclusive online invitation link only, the phone wasn't available for purchase in India yet, even if you're one of the very lucky individuals to get an invitation code.

My dear friend and boss Sidharth, CEO of Dentsu Webchutney, through his vast contacts and financial reach, managed to find a seller at eBay, somebody from USA who had just purchased it and was re-selling it at almost double the price! Sid was really curious to know what the big fuss was about the "flagship killer" phone that everybody was talking about, and since he was the leader of an IT industry with lots of money, he purchased it from that person.

Now remember, that was way back in mid 2014. The top phones of that time were the iPhone 5S, Blackberry Passport, Moto X, Nokia Lumia, Samsung Galaxy S4, HTC One and Google Nexus 5. And so it was very intriguing to read about an unknown and "unbranded" company called OnePlus entering the market.

Sidharth transferred the money to that eBay seller (while joking in his usual style, "Bh*nchod better not be ripping me off") and the much anticipated phone reached India within a week.

We toyed around with the phone for 2 days and finally Sid said "Cool", and then went back to his iPhone and Blackberry :D. Knowing how crazy I am about Androids, he sold the phone to me for the current market price, ignoring the extra amount he had paid to that eBay seller. Such an amazing guy Sid is! Best CEO and flatmate ever!

And that, ladies and gentlemen, was how I became the proud owner of a OnePlus One phone when it wasn't available for purchase in India yet.

By December 2014, people in India with invitation codes could purchase the phone online, and by then I was already using it for a couple of months. By early 2015, anybody in India could purchase the OP1 from Amazon and OnePlus website.

I remember how much I loved the OP1. It was way ahead of its competitors (of that time) in terms of processor speed, display, storage, camera, etc etc., while at the same time being sold at a much cheaper price, hence truly earning the tag "Flagship killer".

All the other top phones of that era were filled with bloatwares we couldn't remove, designed with clunky UI and prone to random crashes, whereas the OP1 was super clean and extremely easy to root and customize the way we wanted.

Ahhh... those golden years.

As time went by, I eventually bought the OP3 as my next phone, followed by the OP6, and now I have the OP9R. Here's my OnePlus family as of today. :)

Am I still a OnePlus fanboy today?

Actually, not anymore. I mean, I was crazy about the OP1 of course. But all other new OnePlus phones after that slowly started losing their charm over the years. It was no longer inexpensive, and in fact it became a "flagship" phone, rather than the rebellious "flagship killer" phone it once was. It had joined the dark side.

There wasn't much of any ground-breaking innovative feature or advanced technology in their new productions. Many new "features" were more gimmicky than serving actual purposes. And the most disappointing part was that, every new model was just slightly better than the previous. That was it. An utter anti-climax.

Plus, there are now many phones in today's market that are as good as the OnePlus phones, if not better. Even OnePlus' sister companies like Oppo, Realme, Vivo and iQOO (all owned by the same phone manufacturer, in cases you don't know) are as good as the OnePlus phones.

And so, I decided not to purchase a OnePlus for my next phone. It was finally time to divorce and explore other brands.

The ONLY reason why I bought the OP 9R was because of the sudden demise of my OP6. I panicked. I didn't have proper time to research on which new brand to buy, especially since Amazon had JUST opened its delivery to Mizoram again.

For my privileged Indian brothers, let me inform you that ALL online e-com portals in India had discontinued their services to Mizoram for many months since the pandemic started. Every single item on Amazon was marked with a cautionary text in red - "This item cannot be shipped to your selected delivery location. Please choose a different delivery location."

Every. Item.

And then on 29th June, just after my OP6 had died, our state government finally allowed online deliveries again! What timing! I went to Amazon immediately and clicked on the first random item on my screen. The message "This item cannot be shipped to your..." was no longer there!!!

Yes, we were finally allowed to place an order! I bought the phone immediately. My payments too were confirmed. Having worked in the IT industry for many years, a part of me was praying that it was not some bug or an oversight, like some regional sales manager of Amazon got drunk and forgot to toggle off the switch for delivery to Mizoram, lolz.

The next few days were unbearable. Will my phone be delivered or not, was all I could think about. It felt too good to be true, you know. I mean, it was such a coincidence, what are the chances of online shopping being disabled for months after months and then suddenly being activated again just when my phone had died? :D

Finally, on 5th July, my OnePlus 9R was delivered! Yayyy.

And yes, talk about luck and timing. Mizoram is now currently on a lockdown again with all online deliveries prohibited, so if you visit Amazon website now and select any item, you will see the same "This item cannot be shipped to your selected delivery location. Please choose a different delivery location." message once again! Phewww!

Yup, the same OnePlus 9R I had ordered just 2 weeks ago is no longer available for purchase today if Mizoram is the delivery location. I guess you can say, Lady Luck from Dehradun smiled on me. :D

Even though the OnePlus 9R isn't my ideal dream phone, I am happy with it so far. I really did like the specs of the new OnePlus 9 PRO, but no way am I going to spend freaking 70K on a phone, especially now that I am unemployed.

Hence, I'm content with my 9R. For the uninitiated, OP 9R is nothing but the OP 8T with a few firmware and hardware improvements (slightly upgraded processor and GPU but the same display, RAM, storage, battery, camera, dimension etc). Hence, an OP 8 or 8T user may not notice any difference.

However, for an OP6 user, it is a good upgrade. The features I like the most so far are the "wide angle" camera view option which my OP6 never had, and the on-screen fingerprint sensor. Initially, the rear fingerprint sensor of my OP6 was cool, until you realize you have to grab the phone or lift it every time to use it. I eventually disabled it because of that inconvenience. OP 9R's on-screen fingerprint scanner makes life so much easier.

So here's to the OnePlus 9R and hoping it will serve me many wonderful memories and take lots of wonderful photos for my future blog updates. :D

To end this post, here are a few photos of my OP 9R unboxing, taken with my spare OP3 phone.

[The last pic above was taken with my 9R]

Friday, July 09, 2021

Chp 863. Marketplace during Lockdown

In my previous post, I wrote about how villages in Mizoram are sending truckloads of free vegetables to different localities in Aizawl and other district headquarters to help with the ongoing pandemic.

It is truly heart-warming to watch these villagers, already crippled financially due to the lockdowns, sending their hard-earned harvest with no charge to complete strangers, all for the sake of helping out a fellow Mizo.

Here's a big salute to the farmers of Mizoram.

I took the above photo from our farm at Neihbawih. You can see small patches of terrace farms in the image - those are how a typical village farm in Mizoram is like. Here's a magnified part of the above farm section -

Due to the terrain and soil composition, it is difficult to build large terrace farms (like those humongous large-scale terrace farms of China and Vietnam we see in National Geographic) and so for a Mizo farmer to donate even a part of his small harvest in spite of such unfavourable conditions is extremely touching!

Salute once again to the farmers of Mizoram.

In this post, I want to write about the current vegetable market scenario in Aizawl. Obviously, a Mizo farmer cannot keep gifting free vegetables to the more privileged population because he too needs to make a living at the end of the day. So what happens in urban areas once he sells his fresh produce to the vendors?

Yesterday, I read this tweet by Hindustan Times, announcing that Karnataka has lifted their lockdown.

I mean, just seeing the above congested market itself is making me uncomfortable, because we have been so accustomed to maintaining social distance, at least here in Mizoram.

My friends from Dehradun, Pune, Mumbai, Bengaluru and other metros have been telling me about how they've stopped going out to buy vegetables and instead have them delivered directly to their apartments. They do that by calling up their local sabjiwalla or departmental store, or using grocery apps like Grofers and BigBasket.

I think that is quite convenient and very safe. It minimizes contact with the general public and prevents the spread of CoVid-19.

However, over here in Mizoram, we do not have such services or facilities. I guess it is fair enough to say most of these Corporations don't think it is worth investing in Mizoram because of our miniscule market size.

But what we lack in technological infrastructure and digital market penetration, we make up for it through our tlawmngaihna and community organization.

In Aizawl, most localities have closed down their local vegetable marketplace. I say "most" because there are a few localities whose marketplace still functions, like Mission Veng for example.

Covid management in Mizoram is decentralized to some extent, so as to better micro-manage the people. The Local Level Task Force (LLTF) of each locality has certain power of jurisdiction, like deciding whether to keep their local marketplace open or assigning a new location for it.

The LLTF of Mission Veng probably had a meeting and discussed the pros and cons of each scenario while taking into account the welfare and concern of their people, and finally decided to keep their vegetable marketplace open.

In my locality Chaltlang though, our LLTF had closed down our vegetable marketplace (at Darkawn) since the beginning of this pandemic. Instead, today, our locality vendors sell vegetables on the main street.

Every Friday, a stretch of road in my locality is designated a marketplace. Vehicles are prohibited from entering this area between 7 AM and 4 PM.

You can see the temporary barricade in the image. LLTF members are on duty at both ends of the designated street during this entire period, diverting vehicles to a bypass.

A POV video was even circulated on our locality WhatsApp groups, informing vehicle drivers on which route to take during this shopping period.

Spots are clearly marked on the road with a serial number, and each vegetable vendor must report to the LLTF prior to occupying a particular spot, pretty much like a license to sell.

Each spot is vastly spaced out with a large "X" marked in between two adjacent vendors, so as to maintain optimum social distancing.

Aizawl DC (District Commissioner) had earlier released a price list of all vegetables and meat. Any vendor within Aizawl who disobeys this rule is penalized and the LLTF can even confiscate their license to sell. [Source: DIPR Press Release].

Regulating the price ensures that no vendor takes advantage of this ongoing pandemic by fleecing the common man.

And so, on Friday mornings, vendors in my locality Chaltlang set up their makeshift stalls on the road, in anticipation of the day's shopping. I took the pic below at around 4 in the morning, just before the break of dawn.

I am extremely fortunate because the stretch of road designated as our local marketplace happens to be right in front of our house. :D So yeah, we can just walk outside our house to shop and scramble back inside quickly before covid ever realizes we're outside. :P

Here are a few more photos I took on this same stretch of road. As you can see, the evenly spaced roadside stalls prevent people from crowding up at the same location, hence minimizing the spread of CoVid-19.

At the far end, we have the non-veg section selling beef, pork, smoked pork, chicken and fish, all abiding by the price-list prescribed by the government.

I sat with one of the vendors who happened to be my neighbour too, and he told me that a majority of the vegetable vendors of our locality are middlemen who had purchased the vegetables and fruits in bulk from their respective contacts outside the city (farmers). He told me that there were probably around just 4-5 people among them who were actually selling their own harvest.

So what happens if at the end of the allocated shopping period, some of the vendors aren't able to sell off all their vegetables?

My friend Tlantea who's a part of our LLTF told me that some of the vendors sell their remaining vegetables to people they know since they will be spoilt by the time the marketplace opens again, while some of them donate their leftover vegetables to the LLTF who in turn distribute it to the needy (our LLTF has a list of households that are struggling financially because of the ongoing lockdown).

I know, many people are struggling because of the pandemic. There will come a day soon when all this will be over and things return to normal. I really miss shopping at our regular vegetable marketplace at Dawrkawn on a Saturday morning, brushing shoulder to shoulder with people of our locality and haggling over the price with different vendors. Ahhh, the normal life.

Perhaps then, I may even miss this sight of seeing a vegetable market right in front of my bedroom window as soon as I wake up. :)

It's kinda more convenient for me, but less convenient for the vendors, especially when it rains!

My cousin's husband U Hruaitea from Chanmari locality sent me a couple of photos of their current roadside vegetable marketplace too, and it looks quite similar to ours.

Perhaps this is the best we can do for now to make a living while battling this pandemic at the same time. One day, my friends, when this is all over, we will look back at this and go, "Sigghhh!"

Until my next post then, take care everyone.

Monday, July 05, 2021

Chp 862. Vegetables in lockdown Mizoram

What is the current situation of vegetables in Mizoram during this ongoing pandemic? How are people, especially those living in the city away from farmlands, receiving essentials like vegetables and fruits?

As the second wave of CoVid-19 swept across India, Mizoram too was on lockdown again from April this year.

Mizoram probably has the longest or most number of lockdowns in India since the outbreak last year. The result of all those lockdowns, restrictions and night curfews is that Mizoram currently has the lowest CoVid-19 fatality among all Indian states.

[Source: DIPR]

However, lockdowns have a serious effect on the economy and one's livelihood. People have a tough time procuring basic essential items like vegetables and fruits. The state government along with the Local Task Force and YMA have done great jobs tackling these issues.

Apart from them, villages and towns across the state have stepped up to help their fellow Mizos living in high density areas where lockdowns are more strictly enforced.

Every day, some far-flung village or town in Mizoram would send a convoy of trucks filled with fresh vegetables and fruits to different localities within Aizawl, Lunglei, Kolasib and other district headquarters.

Those vegetables are completely free of cost, and are handed over to the respective locality's Task Force, who in turn distributed them within their areas.

Here are a few recent examples:

[North Vanlaiphai to Aizawl Dinthar Veng]

[Buhban Khua to Aizawl Chhinga Veng]

[Sialhawk Khua to Aizawl Tuikual South Veng]

[Lungrang South & Rangte Khua to Lunglei Electric Veng]

[Saikah Khua to Lawngtlai Thingkah CCC]

[Ṭhaizawl Khua to Lunglei Electric Veng]

[Sumsuih Khua to Aizawl Electric Veng]

[Dungtlang Khua to Champhai Zokhawthar]

[Saipum Khua to Aizawl Saron Veng]

[Kawlkulh Khua to Aizawl Govt Complex Veng]

[Pehlawn Khua to Aizawl ITI Veng]

All the vegetables above are FREE, and they all happened during this past one month alone. There are many many other similar benefactions like the ones above not mentioned too, simply because I have to cut down the length of this post.

As I mentioned in my previous post, my OnePlus 6 phone suddenly died last week and I didn't back-up my files. Hence, I lost all the images I had collected earlier for this blog update. A few friends like Muantea Chinzah and Lal Jo-a (father_sphinx) had sent me their images again on my gmail, so I'm truly thankful to them for all the photos above.

An entire village or town sending free vegetables to a city might sound unbelievable to many of you, but this is actually quite a common occurrence in Mizoram.

For my non-Mizo readers, let me put it this way. Imagine you're living in an apartment in Bandra (Mumbai) or Koregaon Park (Pune) in Maharashtra, slowly running out of vegetables to buy because of the pandemic, when suddenly you see truckloads of fresh vegetables entering your locality and being distributed to everyone, completely free of cost!

You ask the people around you if those vegetables were sent by the government or a local political party or an NGO or even some super-rich industrialist, but instead they tell you that it was a gift from the people of... say, Gujarwadi village of Shrirampur taluka, Ahmednagar district, Maharashtra.

How would you react?

Probably awestruck, right? Or even sceptical, thinking, "What are the villagers of Gujarwadi smoking?" I mean it is something that we would never experience in the metros.

However, for us Mizos, this is not something new. We can trace back such acts of altruism even during the great famine of 1958 (Mautâm) when Mizos shared even their last remaining morsel of food with those who didn't have any. That's why many people survived that famine.

In fact this act of selflessness is deeply ingrained in all of us. We have a very popular Mizo proverb that goes - "Sem sem, dam dam, ei bil, thi thi" which translates to, "Those who share will live long, those who don't will die soon", and this forms the very ethos of our Mizo society.

However, such an act of generosity is not completely a one-way street. There is reciprocation as well. The different localities receiving the gifts in return help out these villages and towns on many occasions too.

Such assistance can come in different forms, from gifting them computers and inverters to sending them PPE suits and masks, or sponsoring their village's football field construction or a public well. And most localities have one or two villages they focus on, and sometimes we tend to get very possessive too when we hear that another locality is sending gifts to a village we're currently associated with. :D

[Chaltlang YMA members travelling to Champhai Zote, Ngur, Hnahlan, Khuangthing, Vaikhawtlang, Diltlang, Mimbung, Teikhang and Hrianghmun villages to distribute goods]

Sometimes it's not just about gifting material items or financial aid. For example, the people of my locality Chaltlang would rush to this village called Mualkhuang every time there is a forest fire in that region, and sometimes we would even spend 2-3 days in the forest helping the villagers of Mualkhuang put out that raging fire.

[Chaltlang volunteers camping in the forest to put out the wildfire at Mualkhuang village]

Even though we firmly insisted that they should not give us anything to show their gratitude, they always send us a couple of truckloads of fresh vegetables on their next harvest, which we accepted hesitantly and distributed to all the residents within our locality.

In a way, such mutual connections between urban and rural regions not only prove beneficial to both parties but they also build rapport between the two divides.

But of course, we city folks do not receive free vegetables ALL the time. We're not living in some Utopian socialist dream. The capitalist part of our economy too needs to earn their daily bread at the end of the day. And so, we have our normal vegetable markets functioning at the same time as well.

However, due to CoVid-19 restrictions and lockdowns, a lot of changes were made about our local markets, which I will cover in my next post tomorrow. You'll find it quite interesting the way our community worked together to create a safer environment in the marketplace without compromising (much) on one's livelihood.

So I hope you find this post about our Mizo "sem sem dam dam" principle fascinating. I'll end this post with a music video by the talented Leitan Branch YMA (Vanapa Section) performing the song "Sem sem dam dam". Enjoy.