Face of Swine Flu in Mumbai

swine flu Mumbai face masks pics by Arun Shanbhag
No, he was not trying to hijack the BEST bus in Mumbai; he was terrified about the nasty virus causing swine flu!

But that makeshift mask in a crowded bus surely got me panicky. Should I be around Mumbai using public transportation, where the buses and trains are stuffed tighter than, … than, … mumbaikars in buses and trains? And when I had Meera with me?

During my August visit to Mumbai, everyone was in full “epidemic” mode. Even at the Airport! Before reaching immigration, we filled out personal history forms and the overworked health workers simply waved us on. I hope you feel reassured.

Headlines in city newspapers screamed at every cough and sniffle. The Mumbai city council finally ordered schools, colleges, tuition classes and many govt offices closed for 3 days. Private companies gave employees furlough to work from home! And this was supposed to be my vacation. We all came through fine, and a renewed interest in Ayurvedic attempts to strengthen the immune response.

Laborers, relying on day-to-day work appeared the most worried. Masks were suddenly very expensive and wrapping handkerchiefs around their faces was IN.
swine flu Mumbai face masks

Don’t know if it’s Kewl, don’t know if it’s effective either.
swine flu Mumbai face masks

Also on Colaba Causeway
swine flu Mumbai face masks

Across from Churchgate.
swine flu Mumbai face masks

At Fort, Mumbai. At last count, there are about 726 suspected cases and 8 deaths in Mumbai attributed to Swine Flu. Do mumbaikars realize that approximately 10,125 pedestrians were killed on Indian roads (2007 data)? More likely you are going to be hit by a car (or truck or bus) than get swine flu.
swine flu Mumbai face masks

swine flu Mumbai face masks

She could do more for her kid by teaching him to follow road signs, and doing the same.
swine flu Mumbai face masks

swine flu Mumbai face masks

10 thoughts on “Face of Swine Flu in Mumbai

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  1. Yes, I was to leave Pune in about 4 days, and we had some temple visits lined up, but when this suddenly became the only news all over, had to drop everything. I hear it is still not a very pleasant situation there.

  2. Observations @ my end:

    In Bangalore: Even here in Bangalore, I could see masked people walking streets. Also, the schools were closed for couple of days.

    At work: My client from Singapore canceled his India visit due to H1N1 fear. In office, one has to be prepared to endure the scary stares one receives when he/she coughs or sneezes. Recently they have made it mandatory to wash hands with alcoholic sanitizers before entering office.

    Last but not the least, back at home: My mom dried leaves of tulsi, brahmi, curry leaves and amrita valli (also known as amrita balli, not sure what they call it in English. This is known as a immune booster for common ailments like cough, cold, fever etc) powdered them and I was made to have it with hot water every morning on empty stomach. The powder is bitter and I had to endure the discomfort of the bitter taste. 😦

    Well, I guess that was a lengthy comment. 🙂

  3. hoo boy, arun – that is so amazing. i wonder if it even works? great photos. it is incredible to me, the things people will do to try to avoid the swine flu (or other contagious things)…

  4. The whole situation in Pune also was so scary just 4 days before we were leaving. Suddenly the roads were deserted, all schools closed, even the flower and veggie market closed down in Pune.

    1. You were in Pune at that time? I hear it was bad in Pune!

      Here is a funny anecdote; I was looking for a particular Marathi Book and it was sold out; The shopkeeper said he’s ready to put in an order for many books from Pune and I should get it in a few days.

      Then about two weeks later, just before I returned, I called on him and he said:
      “Sorry I did not place the order – see the Publisher in Pune sends a guy to deliver the books; and with all this Swine flu scare, I don’t anyone from Pune to come to my shop!”

      Ha hA! I thought that was funny; of course, I did not get my book. Perhaps next time.

      Glad you are all doing well.

  5. Oh boy, yea drivers (especially in Mumbai it seems) are completely nuts (have nearly gotten run over on numerous occasions). They should work on lowering their car accident stats than obsessing over wrapping (mostly useless) handkerchiefs and masks in an effort to avoid catching swine flu.

    1. I was surprised looking at that data sheet: 115,000 deaths on the roads each year! That about 3 times the US numbers and only a fraction of Indians have vehicles! Yikes!

      and yeah, the whole Swine flu panic was very interesting to live through. When I took Meera to neighboring stores, folks actually berated me for acting irresponsibly and exposing Meera to swine flu! 😦

      1. And since none of them (to my knowledge) have a degree in virology, they shouldn’t be telling you what to do. Masks do nothing, and I’m sure they’ll learn that sooner or later.

        How’s the little one doing anyways? I’m sure it’s a very exciting time for her right now, with Navaratri and Dussehra celebrations going on!

        1. Meera is having the time of her life; Every evening they have been going to different places for Dandya, huge Durga pandals, etc. Last evening Meera was invited to a special puja, exclusively for little girls (supposed to represent the nine forms of the Devi).

          Nine tots were invited, their feet washed, dried, applied haldi-kumkum, aarti done and gifts were given. Meera was elated; apparently sat through the whole service. That is so awesome!

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