Kodai’s Very Own Pity Paati Solves Your Problems, One Question at a Time

Ms Perumalmalai is an agony aunt: a woman journalist giving advice about personal problems. Bold and wise, she is stuck on her computer like all of us through this pandemic—but she has adapted quickly, and is full of advice for the socially distanced and the forcibly quarantined. In this special first edition of what will be a regular feature in The Kodai Chronicle, she takes on your lockdown issues and isolation angst. 

Q. I'm single in Kodai and looking to meet someone mid pandemic. What do I do?

Hello Single and Looking to Mingle,

Finding love in the midst of an actual pandemic in Kodai is no mean feat. But, that said, it should be a consolation to you that all singletons in Kodai are sailing through this storm in the same boat. You are not alone.

Of course, since we are in Kodai, the closest person might be on the opposite hill, so your best avenues for finding that special someone is limited almost entirely to online spaces. To begin with, take your pick from the usual suspects—Tinder, Bumble, Hinge, Grindr—and create a profile. Do make sure you check what the app is for before using it though—each one has a specific use and is meant for a particular preference!

If you match with someone in the area, congratulations! That’s rarer than an honest politician. I recommend having as many virtual dates as possible before you choose to meet in person. And before you do, it would be wise to have an open discussion about ground rules for the date—such as how to maintain social distancing throughout. Although, in Kodai, this shouldn’t be too much of a challenge. A simple picnic by the lake or in Bryant Park could make for a relaxed first date.

If all goes well, and you’re both interested in getting closer, have a straight-forward conversation about both of your comfort levels, your partner’s health status and any risk for exposure. The more info you have, the easier it gets to make an informed decision on what to move forward with.

And finally, remember “wear protection” takes on a whole new meaning during this pandemic. Stay safe—good luck!

Q. My neighbours have Covid. Is it safe to help them, or should I watch and report them if they break quarantine rules?

Hi Vigilant Neighbour,

Great question! During this pandemic, being a good neighbour is more important than ever.

I would say the first thing you should do is to ask if there’s anything you can do to help them, such as buying their groceries—whilst taking appropriate precautions if you interact with them.

But let’s suppose that they don’t need help and you’re just wondering whether to spill the tea if you see any irresponsible behaviour. First, rein in what might be your first inclination to start telling people off and being bossy. You’re only likely to get a heated answer in return. Instead, recognise that people with good intentions may struggle to understand regulations, so give them a chance to explain their side of things. Subsequently, indicate the impact their actions have on you, and give them the opportunity to change their behaviour.

But if you notice them continuing to act in ways that are immediate and serious threats to someone’s health, like throwing or going to house parties for instance, I think you’d be justified in saying something to the authorities.

Q. How do I deal with anti-maskers and/or people who don’t want to wear a mask?

Hi Masked Concern,

Resist the urge to throw something at them. From my experience, that never gets people on your side.

In all seriousness, while the desire to condemn and punish non-cooperative behaviour is strong, unfortunately, I don’t think getting into a verbal shouting match will do any good. Try, instead, to engage anti-maskers in empathetic conversation. This can help you both find common ground and drive a discussion beyond statements like ‘I don’t want to’.

But sometimes, people simply won’t change their behaviour, regardless of the tactic you choose. In that case, it’s best to simply ask anti-maskers to step back if they get too close for comfort or to do so yourself. Keep your distance, stay calm and stay safe.

And instead of beating your head against the wall about anti-masker behaviour, invest that energy into appreciating people who do wear masks with a thumbs up, a nod, or some other gesture of thanks.

Aiyo Amma

Write in with your questions, concerns, and responses to this feature to aroundtown@thekodaichronicle.com with the subject marked: ‘Ms Perumalmalai’.

Ms Perumalmalai

Ms Perumalmalai grew up in Kodai, worked in different cities in India, and has travelled around the world. She recently returned to Kodai and lives in Perumalmalai with her cat and rooms full of books.

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