Missing Diwali? A week after the festivities, when the dust settles, we are left to go back to our humdrum existence.

In the winter of 2007, my friend introduced me to the hand sanitizer for the first time. Although unimpressed, I had little choice but to use it. Vials of the oddly-scented liquids gave us some succour from the unreliable taps and shoddy water supply of the Mumbai University campus where we were both pursuing our Masters in Literature.

Eventually, she moved on from vials to a large bottle of a medicated brand, which she carried in her bag — all 750 ml of it. “Industrial strength,” we’d crack up. She’d, of course, in her own endearing way, scoff at her unrefined friends.

‘I travelled 1,500 km with my baby to join India’s fight against COVID-19’