Quarantined: Love in the time of corona

Writer and communication expert Mahul Brahma’s new book Quarantined is an anthology of short stories of dark love in the dark times when the world is fighting its war against COVID19. IBNS-TWF catches up with the author of The Luxe Trilogy, a luxury commentator and columnist working with a Tata group company.

Why this thought of brewing love stories, that too dark ones, in your book at a time when we are fighting this battle against COVID19?
These are the best of times and worst of times as Charles Dickens rightly had said. At a time when people do not even have the time to be aware of their breath because of their busy schedules, this sudden lockdown and quarantine from their daily routines forces them to explore emotions they never knew they still had in them and explore relationships they never paid any attention to – some dark some grey and some a mix of the two.
But love finds a way to flourish even in the strangest of times and places. And dark times warrant dark love. The book explores the depths to which our minds take us in unfamiliar times when familiar people become unfamiliar.
The book is a reassurance that love conquers all, in its various avatars, even if the Quarantine has you!

This is an anthology of short stories of, as you said unconventional love. Please take us through them. And why unconventional love?
The quarantine is a very unique event in our lives. Even generations who have seen the World Wars confess that it is most dangerous when the real enemy is not visible. The biggest tactical disadvantage that we have in this war against COVID 19 is that you can’t trust anyone. From a stranger to your co-passenger to your next-door-neighbour, just anyone can transmit the Corona virus to you. It is as if the virus is a shape shifter and can take any form or shape. And thus social distancing has become the grand narrative, and the only way to break the chain of the spread of Corona.
The quarantine and lockdown has become a norm rather than an exception during this war against the killer virus. And even in these extreme times of extreme measure when the intensity of emotions and feelings are at an extreme. May be not in its conventional pristine form but love sure blossoms in an unconventional grey or even dark form.
These six stories of unconventional love are slices of lives across different segments of the society and how the quarantine and lockdown irreversibly changed their lives forever. The world for them is no longer the same.
But love is love, conventional or not, and has its sway even in the time of Corona!

Recently your third book Luxe Inferno, book 3 of The Luxe Trilogy, was launched. How is the response? And why this sudden decision to move away from your favourite subject of luxury? Why this surprise for your readers?
Luxe Inferno had a world-wide launch and the response, especially on Kindle is very encouraging. I will like to thank my readers. Quarantined will also be launched on Kindle across the globe this week.
Every creative person has his or her own way or medium of expressing feelings towards events that goes around. As an author I write to express myself. My readers, though they love luxury the way I do, also know that my writings are very unconventional with very fluid boundaries in terms of subject matter and genre. So I think my readers will be pleasantly surprise with Quarantined.
This is a very special time, a time to introspect, a time to give a hard look at your life. And when it comes to a question of existence, every equation that defines your life is modified. So this book at this very special time is a way to commemorate the undying spirit all the fighters in this war against COVID-19.

Tell us about the stories a little.
The book narrates three stories from various segments of the society — a CEO, a doctor, a college girl, a male escort, a call centre executive and a star. Every story has the same premise — the outbreak of Corona virus and the subsequent lockdown and quarantine. The plot thickens as the crisis deepens. The stories deal with how this extraordinary situation plays out in their minds and ends up changing the course of their lives and relationships forever. It tells the stories of how familiar faces become unfamiliar in these unfamiliar times.

Any message for your readers?
I sincerely hope that you will like Quarantined: Love in the time of Corona and will love, or may be hate, the protagonists. It will be available on Kindle across the globe. I will be eager to know your reactions. I urge the readers to stay safe and stay at home. Together we will be able to defeat this virus.

Documentaries thrive on pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic might have virtually shut down the whole entertainment industry but it sure has opened up opportunities for documentary filmmakers. With the global outbreak unleashing havoc, documentary makers have found a new subject to create an arresting mix of drama and information.
The pandemic has opened a pandora’s box of questions, doubts and lots of fake news — which in turn sets the stage to look for information from reliable sources. That is where documentaries find a strong ground. At the same time, these information packages are crafted out of a viable business model and the current surge in genre only means it is a win-win situation for all. With an aim to give an in-depth look at the COVID-19 pandemic sweeping across the globe, Discovery got together several scientists and experts in Pandemic: COVID-19, a one-hour special.
Through the documentary, the experts will shed light on its treatment and transmission, which initially baffled doctors and scientists who first encountered early patients who fell ill. Discovery has lined up one more documentary COVID19 — Battling The Devil — through which they will take the viewers back in time to trace the origins of the virus. The aim is to find answers to the questions “What can China’s learnings teach the world?”. It will premiere in India on April 15. There’s another documentary film which attempts to uncover the story of the novel coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan, China. Titled Epicenter: 24 hours In Wuhan, the 50-minute feature highlights how people of the area, where the deadly COVID-19 virus first struck last December, fought against the outbreak. It shows how the people of the city banded together to fight the escalating crisis. The film is streaming on DocuBay.
With billions of people across the world facing a period of self-isolation to help contain the spread, docu-film Coronavirus: How to Isolate Yourself aims to equip people with important and right information to fight the ongoing health crisis.
Presented by Dr Xand Van Tulleken and psychologist Kimberley Wilson, the one-hour feature is a guide to everything one needs to know about this pandemic, including credible tips and advice. It will premiere on Sony BBC Earth on April 13.
To comprehend the situation, Van Tulleken visits leading experts who explain why self-isolation is most important in the fight against coronavirus, as well as finds out about people’s real-world challenges of self-isolating. The docu-film also focuses on Wilson who offers insights into the psychological challenges of self-isolating, and charts out ways to manage anxiety and self-isolation. “With ‘Coronavirus: How to Isolate Yourself’, it is our endeavour to bring to the viewers, in real time, a need-of-the-hour documentary to help clarify the many questions around the most critical step in containing the virus, self-isolation,” said Tushar Shah, Business Head, SPN English Custer.
National Geographic has also come up with a docu-film titled Combating COVID-19. The film captures the nuances of pre-emptive measures taken by Singaporean authorities to ensure a coordinated, efficient response to try and keep its citizens safe. It will premiere on April 13. (IANS)

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