Our daily mask

While putting away the washing a new world order came into focus. I suddenly realized that masks have now become just another thing to wear before you leave the house. Most of my masks are two layers of cotton; in the heat and humidity of Mumbai anything heavier is unbearable when I’m out. I wear better masks only when I’m forced to be in an enclosed space with many people for a long time, like a doctor’s clinic. But what is surprising is how quickly they have become interesting.

I started to wear masks three years ago, when construction in the neighbourhood threw up so much dust that outdoor exercise became a minor health hazard. Then they had to be ordered online, and were uniformly black, grey, or dark blue. As a result, I had a packet of masks with me in the fearful days when everyone was looking at instructions for DIY masks.

And now? You have to have several masks in your drawer because each can be used only once before you wash it, and you have to discard ones which have gone through twenty five washings or so. Every clothes shop has a rackful of them, in a choice of colours, in cotton or silk, in two or three layers. You can get them block printed, or hand painted, in handloom, or raw silk. The Family is hoping to find some with Madhubani or Warli paintings. They are well on their way to becoming fashion accessories.

I’ll know that the new normal has arrived when I see the first jeweled masks on film stars or in a society wedding. I would like that: the final stage, acceptance.

Author: I. J. Khanewala

I travel on work. When that gets too tiring then I relax by travelling for holidays. The holidays are pretty hectic, so I need to unwind by getting back home. But that means work.

17 thoughts on “Our daily mask”

  1. Alie will be interested in this. Early in this “pandemic time,” she observed that our media coverage of Asian countries, mostly Korea and China, showed everyone wearing standard medical masks either white or blue. She observed that almost immediately people in the U.S. were making masks in every conceivable form. Unfortunately, his independence continues to manifest itself in some people in the form of resisting masks at all. She will be happy to read your comments.

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  2. Yes! A mask decorated with Harry Winston diamonds on the face of a movie star! That would be a sight. I am now wearing an “athletic’ mask with 3 layers for riding in the indoor arena . The temperatures here have dropped and so the arena has been closed up and if there are three riders all riding then I feel a mask is necessary. I have different colors and other masks for other times. The riding mask is good for breathing as although it looks like the rider is just sitting there we actually have to work quite hard!

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    1. Having nearly fallen off horses the few times I’ve ridden one, I can tell that a lot of constant adjustment is needed. Good to have a comfortable mask. Unfortunately a good exercise mask is something I’ve not yet come across.

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  3. Oh my I.J., what an interesting but sad comment on the state of our world these days! You’re so right, the jeweled mask cannot be far away! Near me most people (including yours truly) are still wearing those flimsy disposable masks that come in boxes of 100. I also have a few cotton masks but it is still very warm here and they are much heavier so I only use them if I’m going to be in a crowd. Thankfully our little island has been a bit of an oasis with very few cases of the virus. since many are in the danger zone of age, everyone is very careful and crowds are almost non-existent

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    1. Here the disposable masks ran out before people could get one. Most people switched to cotton masks very early. Yes, I guess they are heavier than the disposables, but it was somewhat of a blessing, I think. I’m not fond of single use things. They put too much of a burden on the environment, don’t you think?

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  4. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if they were accepted as a “fashion” accessory as well as a way to protect others and ourselves? I’m also amazed at the huge varieties of masks that are now available. And yes, we will see diamonds on them at some point!! Take care, IJ, and stay well.

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  5. I think I will go for the usual – something that suits with everything I wear.
    In the interest of minimalism 😛
    Been doing that already. But now reading about Madhubani or Warli, why not! I’d love them too.

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