Monday, August 17, 2009


First it was the Japanese who always went around the World wearing masks and gloves long before this new bug called H1N1 came along. Now, it seems Indians have panicked (thanks to the high decibel, repeated screeching of anchors on news channels there) and loads of them were seen wearing these masks without knowing whether the masks they had on were really going to stop the infection from hitting them or not. I saw "normal" Indians, even couples in downtown Bangalore wearing these funny contraptions. Why funny? Let me tell you why. There were people with kerchiefs tied around their noses, there were those who had these single layer masks and there were those with dupattas around their faces looking like The Taliban had enforced a dress code. Of course there were regular masks all around too.

Went to the Bengaluru International Airport to catch my late night flight back to Singapore. Saw more varieties of masks there, mostly on Indian faces. What bugs me is that the wearers don't even know if they are protected or not. One should check on guidelines and there are sources on the net also, such as the Center for Disease Control, USA that explains what works and what won't help. The masks, the different variety of ones that are available in the market in India, are ineffective in preventing the wearer from contracting the disease. They are only good in the sense that they stop droplets from spreading all around when the wearer coughs or sneezes. So, while it may not protect the wearer, at least the chaps around are safe to a certain extent! The N95 respirator "mask" is the one that is approved by CDC and health officials around the World. Not the mickey mouse contraptions that most of them were wearing. The mask manufacturers are laughing all the way to the Bank as they make a "killing", selling them like hot cakes.

Let me briefly describe some of the masks I saw on many faces at the Airport. There were these green surgical ones you see on TV medical shows and at hospitals. Then there were ones that are labeled "Duck billed" (even on CDC website!), I swear this is the funniest one. Some looked like birds standing around because they were yellow in color (the masks I mean!) There is a definite beak shape, just like on Tweety Bird. I thought that was the funniest until a couple walked by, both of them wearing, what would have come straight from Star Wars. I am not kidding you, they looked like the ones Darth Vader would wear to the beach. These were large, dark, covered a lot of the nose, mouth and cheeks, had round discs jutting out from both sides of the mask like Oxygen regulators and they looked like what some one would wear in a chemical attack. Maybe effective against H1N1 too, no?

On the Aircraft, some of wearers decided to give it a rest and took them off and put them back on whenever they felt like it. Catering arrived and soon all the masks were off to eat and drink! Some people are deluded to think that H1N1 is only floating around when they are wearing these masks. For me, I was just pleased. Firstly because the person next to me sneezed, while wearing the mask and so I did not have to hold my breath till I turned blue in the face...and secondly, these mask wearers were a source of entertainment, just looking at some of them and their behavior with and without the masks made my night!

I have to end this story with something really funny, without disrespect to anyone. Many of you would already know this I think, although it may not be politically correct. Anyway, what I heard in Bangalore was that the sales of padded Bras were going up in the city. Not because more women had come into town all of a sudden leaving their wardrobe behind but because half a padded Bra works wonderfully well as a mask! This it seems, is a fact, and not a joke as it had been mentioned in some media. Thanks to H1N1, Bra manufacturers can also laugh all the way to the Bank! I kid you not.


Swaram said...

Ha ha ... nice topic to post on ;)
Its become Mask, mask everywhere nw :P

Almost everyone @ the Hyd n Kochi airports too hd them on :!:

ROFL @ the padded bras ;)

Swarna said...

True! Travelling by Delhi Metro, we were surprised at the number of people wearing masks or using handkerchiefs and dupattas to cover the lower part of their faces. What was even funnier... they were a mask, and go shopping ploughing through 6-in overflowing storm water on Karol Bagh, in the rains. (this was on Sunday, 16 Aug)

Capt. Anup Murthy said...

Swaram: Thanks, was funny to see all that. Did not see the bras, just that my cousin told me about it and she made it sound funnier.

Swarna: That is funny indeed! Yes, saw Delhi drenched and literally swamped on NDTV, poor show by MCD.

Capt. Anup Murthy said...

latest Info on masks:

Most N95 respirators are designed to filter 95% particulates of 0.3µ,
while the size of H1N1 virus is about 0.1µ. Hence, dependence on N95
to protect against H1N1 is like protecting against rain with an
umbrella made of mosquito net. Masks other than N95 are useless as even the N95 is not going to halt it.

Tamiflu does not kill but prevents H1N1 from further proliferation.
H1N1, like other Influenza A viruses, only infects the upper
respiratory tracts and proliferates (only) there. The only portals of
entry are the nostrils and mouth/ throat. In a global epidemic of this
nature, it’s almost impossible not coming into contact with H1N1 in
spite of all precautions. Contact with H1N1 is not the problem but
proliferation is.

Capt. Anup Murthy said...

Here is what a Doctor friend of mine sent, further to my info on the N95 mask:

N-95 is not fool-proof. It is not air-tight; it has a 10% leakage problem from the sides & its pore size is not enough to prevent passage of the influenza virus. I won't talk about other masks or hand kerchiefs for obvious reasons. N95 mask, at best, prevents the wearer from infecting others. N95 mask has no ability to protect the wearer from other people's airborne viruses. Only in those who are affected & are wearing the N-95 masks who sneeze, cough, drool, spit or talk excitedly, his or her infected fluids will be trapped in the mask and will not infect others. Hence it is foolish to use ordinary masks or hand kerchiefs either by those affected with the disease or by those who are walking on the street for propaganda purposes.

YOSEE said...

LOL! That was a scream !.... True, how everyone here went overboard with the protection mania ! And yes, i did see Darth Vaders,Chemical-Warfare Braves and Masked Bandits in Garuda Mall for a few days. Now that the rabble-rousing media has lost interest in H1N1,people have also started breathing easy and gone back to their comfortzone of umasked complacency. Good. Everyone now realizes that SwineFlu is just another flu with a foreign education and not exactly the bubonic plague. After all, more people die of the oh-so-boring sounding TB than the Star-Wars- sounding H1N1.......( and, Oh i see !,so thats why the lingerie shelves were looking so depleted ! And there i was thinking the sisterhood had collectively gone retro and converted into bra-burning feminists of the Germaine Greer Brand !

Capt. Anup Murthy said...

Yosee: ROFL! That was really funny. Your comment should be a mini blog buy itself, about this H1N1 Star Wars phenomena! Tiruppur is working over time to restock the padded bra section I heard...just kidding! I'm glad that people have gone back to being their usual complacent selves until the media cries hoarse over another new bug.

flowergirl said...

LOL! This is a funny post!

I must say that here in Madras, everybody was rather blase....not too many masks around

Capt. Anup Murthy said...

Flowergirl: Now it turns out this whole thing was a scam. Like bird flu. The charade continues in many countries. Recently German Doctors went on International TV accusing that WHO was responsible for so much mis information and that some members of the WHO were hand in glove with pharma companies. So, the bigger joke was that many National Governments of the World spent a total of over $20 Billion (with a B) to acquire these shots that no one wants to take anymore. Who's laughing all the way to the Bank? Pharma Cos of course. The masks were a sideshow and was a joke to begin with, good that Bra makers also got a "lift up" in sales! Glad you liked this piece.