Here in New York, and in much of the US, the pandemic seems to be turning a corner. Nearly all my friends and family have gotten fully vaccinated or are in the process of doing so. New York City is loosening restrictions on bars and restaurants and movie theaters as more people get vaccinated. The weather is nice enough for outdoor dining again, and it’s been thrilling to once again make plans to see friends. Every time I get together with friends, everyone is positively giddy at being able to socialize safely, recognizing that it’s a luxury we’ll never take for granted again.
We may be nearing the end here in the US, but many other parts of the world are still so far away from the end. In India, the pandemic has reached a crisis point. Cases are rising, deaths are rising, and there aren’t enough hospital beds and oxygen tanks and crematoriums to keep up with it all. The country is on lockdown again.
So while I’m feeling joy every time I get to see a friend for outdoor drinks or every time another friend posts a grinning vaccine selfie, I’m simultaneously feeling worried and more than a little guilty about how good I have it. It is disorienting, to say the least, to begin resuming elements of normal life here in the US while also worrying about loved ones as the pandemic rages in India.
It’s a dissonance that many Indian Americans are grappling with right now. The writer Prachi Gupta captures this complicated sentiment in a very good piece in The Atlantic this week:
But for Indian Americans, a majority of whom are immigrants, the widely divergent realities unfolding in India versus the U.S. are disorienting and even guilt-inducing. Seeing your loved ones suffer is hard enough, but when your own situation is so full of hope, it can be tough to know how to feel.
And in the Washington Post, Fenit Nirappil and Ambreen Ali write:
This is the split-screen pandemic in the United States, where vaccine selfies flood social media feeds and newly vaccinated families are reuniting as many are struggling to help loved ones with the coronavirus around the world access medical care. Millions of Indian Americans now grapple with the horrors of one of the worst virus waves since the pandemic started. Several described feeling dissonance as normalcy returns in the United States while their WhatsApp accounts blow up with death announcements and pleas for help from loved ones and strangers in their country of origin.
We have it so, so good in the United States; we have enough vaccine supply and our biggest challenge now is convincing people to take it. Meanwhile, many in India and other countries won’t get vaccinated until 2023, because rich countries bought up more vaccines than they needed. The pandemic is still so very far from being over.
If you’re looking for ways to help folks in India, this roundup from my friend Sonia Chopra at Bon Appetit has a lot of ideas, and this New York Times post has helpful ideas too.
Good things to read
Life as a man, The Cut. Rebecca Traister on the Blake Bailey story.
Tiktok and the vibes revival, New Yorker.
The case for a national one-week vacation, New York Times.
Why so many millennials fall prey to impostor syndrome, Wall Street Journal. This piece isn’t about impostor syndrome in the typical career sense, but looks at a different angle: impostor syndrome when it comes to managing your finances.
The pandemic shrank our social circles, New York Times. This piece was controversial in some corners of Twitter but I think it makes some good points.
The end of Kimye’s wild ride, Vulture.
Let’s stigmatize the internet, New York Times. Honestly, we could all do with spending less time online.
Art doesn’t need tyrants, Vulture.
Girl, wash your timeline, New York Times. On Rachel Hollis’s implosion.
Post-vaccination inertia is real, The Atlantic.
Good things to cook
Here’s another recipe of my own this week that I experimented with and loved: spicy sambal pork meatballs! Here’s what you need:
1 lb ground pork
2 tsbp sambal oelek
1/4 cup panko bread crumbs
minced ginger (however much you want!)
4 garlic cloves, minced
dash of soy sauce
1 scallion, chopped
Mix it all together and shape into meatballs, and then bake on a foil lined, greased sheet pan at 425 for 20-30 minutes until fully cooked.
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Thanks for writing about the dichotomy! It’s a horror show in India. Sadly it’s everywhere and the consensus is that it’s a different strain.
My parents just barely recovered from covid, and we were lucky that they contracted it 5-7 days before all hell broke loose. We were able to get to a doctor and get attention in the first few days, which was super helpful.
Managing that whole situation sitting in NYC was an ordeal, which I am sure so many others are going through. My heart goes out to them.
The duality of having vaccine options to choose from in US while friends, family and countrymen struggle for oxygen and treatment is just hard to wrap my head around.
If anyone is reading this from India, get tested, stay strong and get help as early as possible. Early intervention is the big differentiator.