A playlist for the pandemicFifteen songs to help tide you over the lockdown—from the sensible and good-humoured to the irreverent and black-hearted.
The sun is shining, the sky is blue and you can actually hear the birds chirping for once. That nosy neighbour can’t come over anymore; the kindergarten next door with the 12 annoyingly loud children is closed; and you can pretty much spend all day in your pajamas. But of course, you also have to deal with your parents, if you live with them, and your spouse, if you have one. That might take a whole new level of tolerance and commitment that you didn’t sign up for.
Take it all in stride, watch a comedy, laugh at the end times. Watch Dr Strangelove, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.
Here to provide some black-humoured companionship during these trying times is a specially curated pandemic playlist, brought to you by yours truly, to help you tide over your time at home.
Stay safe, stay inside, but also learn to laugh at the absurdity of it all.
Bartika Eam Rai - Najeek
First things first, maintaining physical distance is absolutely critical at these times, as Bartika Eam Rai put it so presciently when she released this song— “najik na aau, darr lagdai cha”. Although Bartika’s afraid of catching feelings, we’re more concerned with catching the virus.
Alanis Morissette - Hands Clean
Second, remember to wash your hands with soap and water, or use sanitiser. If we as humans take away one lesson from the pandemic, let it be the importance of keeping your hands clean. I’m looking at you, men who leave the bathroom without washing their hands.
Outkast - So Fresh, So Clean
In these trying times, it is easy to let yourself go. No haircut, no shower, the same clothes you wore yesterday, who’s going to notice anyway? We’re in a lockdown. But staying fresh and clean is not just about warding off Covid-19 but also about looking and feeling your best so you can look in the mirror and say to yourself “Ain’t nobody dope as me, I’m dressed so fresh, so clean.”
My Morning Jacket - Touch Me I’m Going to Scream Pt II
This is as good a defence mechanism as any when someone gets too close while you’re out at the grocery store, jostling for that last kauli with the aunty next door. Actually, any unwanted touching, whether during a pandemic or not, should elicit a scream. Creeps in public buses take note.
X-ray Spex - Germ Free Adolescents
We’re all a little obsessive-compulsive at this time, sanitising our hands every few minutes and wearing masks throughout the day, even when by ourselves. We might not brush our teeth ten times a day but for many of us, like for the girl in the song, “Her phobia is infection, she needs one to survive. It’s her built-in protection, without fear she’d give up and die.” At this time, it's okay—even expected—to be fastidious, meticulous, scrupulous.
The Beatles - I Wanna Hold Your Hand
Yes. We all do. But we can’t. We mustn’t.
And that feeling you have inside when you give in and hold their hand? That might not be happiness.
Kanye West - Love Lockdown
The lockdown is a necessity. You really can’t expect Nepalis to maintain self-isolation without a government mandated order. But we can learn to love the lockdown. Read, write, paint, listen to music, watch movies, cook, and get on your partner’s nerves. Careful with that last one though, it could put all love on lockdown.
Akon - Locked up
If you leave your home and wander around, chances are the police will nab you with that long, grabby implement they seem to have recently acquired. If you give them sass, they might lock you up, for real this time. None of that stay-at-home jazz, this is real Akon-style “locked up, they won’t let me out, nooooo, they won’t let me out.”
Al Green - Tired of being alone
Those of us separated from our partners feel you, Al.
Shankar Mahadevan - Breathless
If you can sing along to this song, you definitely do not have Covid-19. Go on, try it. It’s a fun exercise while you’re sitting around not doing much.
Peggy Lee - Fever
If you have “fever in the morning, fever all through the night”, then maybe it is time to visit the doctor and get yourself tested.
Belle and Sebastian - Get Me Away from Here, I’m Dying
You might feel like you’re dying, cut off from your friends, your gym, your bar, your club, your favourite restaurant, your annoying workmates, your overbearing boss, that cute boy you make eye contact with in the lift. But trust me, it’s for the best to get away from here, as fast as you can. Retreat into your homes and that death-like pallor will leave you as soon as you embrace your inner misanthrope.
Karna Das - Jindagi ko ke bharosa
If there’s one thing this pandemic should teach us, it’s that for all our fancy gadgets and our internet and modern ways of being, life is always uncertain. That’s its beauty and its curse. You might win the lottery but you might also get the coronavirus from that jerk who coughed into his hand and clapped you on the back. Nothing is ever guaranteed.
Coldplay - Don’t Panic
The important thing right now is to not panic. Even though the US might have engineered Covid-19 (it didn’t) or it might be a biological weapon developed by the Chinese (it’s not). Don’t panic but also don’t buy that Nepalis are somehow, magically, stronger than the rest of the world. Let’s not indulge in conspiracies. We can save that for after the pandemic.
Eric Idle - Always Look on the Bright Side of Life
One final life lesson, coming to us from the guys at Monty Python, is to always look on the bright side of life, even when you’ve been mistaken for Jesus Christ and strung up on the cross. So take a breather, sit on your couch, bring up Life of Brian and give that old comedy a rewatch.
But if it ever comes to pass that the pandemic engulfs Nepal, just take solace in the fact that “Life's a piece of shit, When you look at it, Life's a laugh and death's a joke, it's true, You'll see it's all a show, Keep 'em laughing as you go, Just remember that the last laugh is on you.”
Until then, always look on the bright side of life.
Frequently asked questions about the coronavirus outbreak
UPDATED as of May 27, 2020
What is Covid-19?
Covid-19, short for coronavirus disease, is an illness caused by the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, short for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2. Common symptoms of the disease include fever, dry cough, fatigue, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. In severe cases, the infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death.
How contagious is Covid-19?
Covid-19 can spread easily from person to person, especially in enclosed spaces. The virus can travel through the air in respiratory droplets produced when a sick person breathes, talks, coughs or sneezes. As the virus can also survive on plastic and steel surfaces for up to 72 hours and on cardboard for up to 24 hours, any contact with such surfaces can also spread the virus. Symptoms take between two to 14 days to appear, during which time the carrier is believed to be contagious.
Where did the virus come from?
The virus was first identified in Wuhan, China in late December. The coronavirus is a large family of viruses that is responsible for everything from the common cold to Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). After an initial outbreak in Wuhan that spread across Hubei province, eventually infecting over 80,000 and killing more than 3,000, new infection rates in mainland China have dropped. However, the disease has since spread across the world at an alarming rate.
What is the current status of Covid-19?
The World Health Organisation has called the ongoing outbreak a “pandemic” and urged countries across the world to take precautionary measures. Covid-19 had spread to 210 countries and infected more than 5,684,795 people with 352,225 deaths. In South Asia, India has reported the highest number of infections at 150,793 with 4,344 deaths. While Pakistan has reported 57,705 confirmed cases with 1,197 deaths. Nepal has so far reported 886 cases with four deaths.
How dangerous is the disease?
The mortality rate for Covid-19 is estimated to be 3.6 percent, but new studies have put the rate slightly higher at 5.7 percent. Although Covid-19 is not too dangerous to young healthy people, older individuals and those with immune-compromised systems are at greater risk of death. People with chronic medical conditions like heart disease, diabetes and lung disease, or those who’ve recently undergone serious medical procedures, are also at risk.
How do I keep myself safe?
The WHO advises that the most important thing you can do is wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizers with at least 60 percent alcohol content. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unclean hands. Clean and disinfect frequently used surfaces like your computers and phones. Avoid large crowds of people. Seek medical attention if symptoms persist for longer than a few days.
Is it time to panic?
No. The government has imposed a lockdown to limit the spread of the virus. There is no need to begin stockpiling food, cooking gas or hand sanitizers. However, it is always prudent to take sensible precautions like the ones identified above.