Feb 17
A Hymn to Resilience
A Hymn to Resilience
WE DID IT! We’re still here! We have pulled through humanity’s biggest test of survival in the recent times.  Or wait, have we really? We are still being warned to wear masks, maintain physical distancing, etc., and it is difficult to know whether raising a toast would be premature. In these tantalisingly uncertain times, a collection of essays – The Phoenix Rises – Lockdown Chronicles curated by former diplomat Mr Amit Dasgupta salutes the resilience of the human spirit.
The 40-odd essays are like Maggi noodles – you are done with most of them in minutes. You get the wit and reflective wisdom of The Times of India’s ageless icon Jug Suraiya, the layered lyricism of Randhir Khare, and the elegantly phrased but hard-hitting insights of Navtej Sarna.
They tell us how different people re-configured their lives during the lockdown and adjusted to what is probably the world’s newest cliché – the new normal.
We relate to all this for we too have had our share of domestic epiphanies. We share in the surprise of Jug and Bunny Suraiya when they discovered that their apartment in Delhi had a small terrace whose existence they had ignored for decades. Like many of the contributors, we too have attempted to extract lessons from the lockdown and tried to derive weighty philosophy from everyday events. After all, man is indefatigable when it comes to searching for meaning.
Not all the essays in the book are of even quality. Like the assorted sweet boxes that we receive during festive seasons, you know what to expect – there will some things to relish and savour, others are okay and the rest are, well, there just to fill the empty spaces in the box.  This is an occupational hazard for all editors and curators, but Mr Dasgupta has done his best.
Meanwhile, humanity waits with breath bated behind masks for the messiah in milligrams – the vaccine. Once when all this is behind us, it will be time to sing the song of victory. Till then, The Lockdown Chronicles must suffice as a muted hymn to the human spirit.

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