About –the stories of the world this week, 18 December to 24 December: return of the mask – a country overwhelmed; a warship sinks; a President visits a President – Europe to America; no education for girls; Football World Cup; and Christmas – the gift of the magi.


While the world is gradually stepping-out of the pandemic, China finds itself locked in a terrific battle with the Covid19 causing coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 variants. Cases of infection have been recorded in 31 of its provinces and there is an explosion of people struck by the virus.

Meanwhile, it’s tails-up for the world, as we brace for another possible virus invasion from China. The masks are out again, and all the colourful terms we learnt during the pandemic could be put to use one more time. Call it a deja vu? Return of the Mask?

China lifted its most severe Covid policies attributed to the Zero Covid Policy – including forcing people into quarantine camps – just a week after landmark protests against the strict controls. People with Covid can now isolate at home rather than in state facilities if they have mild or no symptoms. They also no longer need to show tests for most venues, and can travel more freely inside the country.

But, the country is currently experiencing a surge in cases, and recorded its highest number of daily Covid numbers since the pandemic began in the year 2020. Several major cities including the capital Beijing and the southern trade hub Guangzhou are experiencing outbreaks. And there are serious concerns about a fresh Covid19 wave hitting the country.

The abrupt shift in China’s stringent Covid policy has left its people and health facilities ill-prepared to deal with the huge wave of infections, leading to widespread shortages of common drugs, and other essentials.

One of the reasons for the present outbreak is that vaccination levels are lower – though China claims 90% of its population has been fully vaccinated – than in other countries and only half of people aged over 80 have received three doses of vaccination. China has refused to import vaccines despite evidence that its homemade vaccines have been proved to be less effective in protecting people against serious Covid illness and death.

Experts predict that 60% of China is likely to be infected over the next 90 days, with deaths likely in millions.

China should get its act together and do everything possible to contain this wave of Covid19 and prevent its spread. For a start it should be more open about the data of infections and death, which, at the moment, only fuels scepticism about the real impact.

Thailand’s warship HTMS Sukhothai, a 76 metres long corvette (small warship) had been on Day Two of a routine patrol, east off South-Eastern Thailand when it got caught in a storm, this week’s Sunday night. The waves were as high as 3 metre and caused the water to climb the decks, flood the hull and then the electricity room, cutting off power, and ultimately sinking the ship with a crew of 105 on board.

Other naval ships were immediately alerted and sent to help, but only the HTMS Kraburi frigate reached the vessel before it sank, about 32km east of Bang Saphan in the Prachuap Khiri Khan province, off the Gulf of Thailand.

Rescuers have saved about 75 people so far, scouring the rough seas with boats and helicopters. Survivors have been found after floating for hours, some in an unconscious state.

The warship was commissioned in 1987 and built in the United States of America.

The two events that occupied this year’s headlines and refused to go away are, one – the Russia-Ukraine War, and two the fact that it’s over 455 days since the Taliban banned teenage girls from school in Afghanistan.

Afghanistan remains the only country on the planet banning children from getting an education. It only got worser this week when in another devastative, regressive action, the Taliban imposed a ban on university education for women: they cannot enrol themselves in public and private universities in Afghanistan. This comes three months after thousands of girls and women across the country took university entrance exams. The universities are currently closed for the winter and were to reopen in March 2023.

Before Afghanistan reached this stage, following the Taliban’s takeover of the country, universities were compelled to implement new rules, such as gender-segregated classrooms and entrances. Women were only permitted to be educated by women professors or old men.

Being rich in knowledge, full of dreams, no matter where they live, women of Afghanistan feel empty as the world has betrayed them.

Denying women the right to education is soul-crushing. A murder of the mind?

This week, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky flew to the United States, his first visit outside the country since the war began. He addressed the US Congress and in a well-crafted speech said, “Your money is not charity. It is an investment in the global security and democracy that we handle in the most responsible way.”

The extraordinary measures taken to transport President Zelensky from Ukraine to the US capital are a sign of just how crucial the two countries’ relationship is for both sides. After visiting the front line in Eastern Ukraine this Tuesday, Zelensky’s journey to Washington DC began with an overnight train journey to Poland before boarding a US Air Force plane, reportedly supported by a NATO spy-plane and an F-15 fighter jet. Hands-off Russia? Finally they are veering around from calling the ongoing invasion of Ukraine a special operation, and admitting it is indeed a war. And they want to end it!

FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Ends

The football World Cup finals were played this Sunday, and we witnessed one of the best-ever football final matches, in a long time. It was a slow-start thriller, building up the momentum to a nail-biting climax, which kept one on the edge. And rolling memories, long after it was over.

Argentina stepped in confidently and the ball seemed stuck to their legs for most of the first half of play and the beginning of the second – in about 75 minutes of probably the most dominated finals ever. Superstar Lionel Messi shot the first goal on a penalty and assisted another – a deft pass to Di Maria- to give Argentina a solid 2-0 lead before half-time. We could not see any vibrant signs of France – appeared drugged out, but just when we were beginning to give up on them, emerging superstar Kylian Mbappe copied Messi, scoring in a penalty and then a field-goal himself. Suddenly the game seem to be anybody’s after the second half scoring by France to equalise.

The game went in to extra time and Messi again delivered in a field goal scramble, making in 3-2. But the spirit of France had woken-up and Mbappe scored yet another goal – a hattrick- on a penalty shot making it 3-3 and driving the game to a penalty-shot decider.

Both stars, Mbappe and Messi got the first kicks inside, but Argentina’s goal-keeper stopped the next from France and the third shot from France missed the goal completely. The fourth went home. But Argentina kept their cool scoring all their shots making it 4-2. Argentina won, taking the Cup home after 36 years.

Team Argentina, moulded by coach Lionel Scaloni, has delivered to expectations and it is a well-deserved victory.

The jubilant homecoming of team Argentina was beyond measure with millions turning up to welcome their heroes. And Argentina declared a national holiday for people to watch the nation team ride an open bus during a parade in Buenos Aires centred around the iconic Obelisk that was built in 1936 to commemorative the quadricentennial of the first foundation of the city. It was sight to behold: looked like a huge beehive filled with honey from up above.

Indian Women’s Hockey Strikes Gold

The inaugural International Federation of Hockey (FIH) Hockey Nations Cup 2022 held in Spain saw India’s Women’s Team beat Spain 1-0, at Valencia, on 17th December, to win Gold.

The competing teams were Chile, Italy, South Africa, Indian, Japan, Spain, Ireland, and Korea.

This wonderful win was drowned in the drum-beats of the Football World Cup, but it is something to cheer about and ‘sticks out’ in journey of women’s hockey in India. Way to go!

Beware: a Warning

In Qatar two mass gathering events were held simultaneously, one, the FIFA World Cup 2022 and two, the Camel Mzayen Club’s Camel Beauty Pageant Festival. These attracted hundreds of thousands of people from within the Middle East and across the world. Many are attending both events, interacting closely with each other and with camels, creating ideal conditions for the transmission of camel-associated zoonotic pathogens with epidemic potential. These pathogens include the highly lethal MERS-CoV (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus). Dromedary camels in the Middle East are a major reservoir of MERS-CoV. Humans sporadically become infected through direct or indirect contact with MERS-CoV-infected camels or camel dairy products. People need to stay alert and watchful: we started the year trying to get off riding the coronavirus ride and need to shake it of least we take a Camel ride and drive ourselves into another pandemic.

Please Yourself

Christmas is upon us and it’s a wonderful time of the year to spend time with family, loved ones, give and receive dream gifts – especially from Santa Claus and to un-wind and crank-up our engines to travel the new year ahead. Children would be looking in excitement at the stockings on the Christmas trees to see if Santa indeed came down the chimney in the middle of the night and made good promises sought .

There’s no better season to just curl-up on your favourite sofa, probably with a steaming cup of coffee in one hand, and read the day away. And what’s nicer to read during the holidays than stories about Christmas itself?

One of my all-time favourite Christmas stories has been O’Henry’s, ‘The Gift of the Magi’, a beautiful short story about the personal sacrifices we are willing to make for the ones we love with the might of our heart.

It’s Christmas Eve, and the young very much in love couple, Mrs & Mr James Dillingham Young – Jim and Della – find that despite their best efforts over the past months they could not save enough to buy each other a Christmas Gift.

O’Henry begins the story with Della counting her savings to one dollar and eighty-seven cents and fretting on how to buy Jim a gift – a worthy platinum chain for his gold watch to replace the present ‘unworthy leather strap’.

There were two possessions that Jim and Della took mighty pride. One was Jim’s gold watch – a family heirloom handed down from Grandfather to Father to him. Two, Della’s beautiful hair, which fell about her rippling and shining like a cascade of brown waters, reaching below her knee. King Solomon (despite all his treasures) and Queen Sheba (despite all her beauty) would have burnt with envy on the respective possessions of Jim and Della.

In an awkward moment, Della decides to cut and sell her hair to buy Jim a watch chain. On returning home- with her head covered with a scarf- Jim is stunned when he finds out that she had cut her hair to buy him a watch chain. Della wonders whether Jim will love her the same despite the hair? On his turn, Jim had sold the gold watch to buy her the most beautiful set of combs: pure tortoise shell, with jewelled rims, which she had secretly worshipped for long on a Broadway window (and Jim had noticed).

Despite losing their most valued possessions, the husband and wife in this story realize that their mutual sacrifice signifies a much greater gift: their eternal love and devotion to one another. Jim asks Della to keep aside the gifts and celebrate Christmas – “they’re too nice to use at present. And now suppose you put the chops on”.

Wrote O’Henry in the Story – I quote- “The magi, as you know, were wise men-wonderfully wise men-who brought gifts to the Babe in the manger. They invented the art of giving Christmas presents. Being wise, their gifts were doubtless wise ones, possibly bearing on privilege of exchange in case of duplication. And here I have lamely related to you the uneventful chronicle of two foolish children in a flat who most unwisely sacrificed for each other the greatest treasures of their house. But in a last word to the wise of these days let it be said that of all who give gifts these two were wise. Of all who give and receive gifts, such as they are wisest. Everywhere they are wisest. They are the magi”.

Merry Christmas: Be wise, be a magi when you give or receive a gift. And cherish your love.

More soulful stories coming up in the weeks ahead. Watch the watch and keep the hair. Celebrate with World Inthavaaram.



About: This is a wonderful story, from my perspective, on what happened this week, in our World.


The United Kingdom (UK) has been struck with a highly mutated – 17 alterations (14 mutations and 3 deletions) to the original – coronavirus which is about 70% more infectious. Scientists explain that the variant could have spiked-up from a patient with an awfully weakened immune system that was simply overwhelmed by the virus. Apparently the patient’s body became a breeding factory – and a research laboratory – for the virus to thrive and mutate to a better version of itself. Studies say that there have been about 4,000 mutations so far into the pandemic and this is one of the deadliest. Breathe out – not bad at all. The SARS-CoV-2 virus has become more transmissible – breathe-in, that’s the worrying aspect.

Meanwhile, just as the UK got the scent of this one, a second variant from South Africa was detected. Now there is a scramble to get on top of this mutant. The Crown would have to take a Queen’s Gambit to check-mate the wily, invisible fellow in what is certainly not The Last Kingdom.

The virus-busting Vaccines that are arriving ‘fighting fit’, with spike guns blazing, are almost certainly capable of doing their ‘original job’. However, its effect on the mutants is unclear, at this stage. The effect of the new variants seems to be in quicker transmission, hence more infections, rather than deadlier sickness. With Boxing Day coming up the day after Christmas we have to glove up and keep our chin-guard, to prevent a knock out, while the staff go home with their boxes of presents.

This is becoming an interesting competition between the Virus and the Vaccine. A question of who gets where first? Right now, the virus is way ahead. But with official vaccinations already happening in the UK and the United States of America (USA), we hope to herd our immunity soon. In addition, with many of the current Vaccines being made out of mRNA, we can quickly tinker minor changes to keep-up with the mutants. Mutation works both ways. We humans are clever! Staying Alive.

The Indian Government heard everything and is making an ambitious plan to start jabbing too – beginning in January 2021 and band-aiding all its priority targets by August 2021. It has set top priorities as, the front-line healthcare workers, the armed forces, the policemen, the over 50 Plus ( I fall into this category), and those with existing multiple health issues. I would rather the Children and Teachers wait until those in front of them stand-up on the benches and prove the efficacy of the vaccine.

With such momentum building-up against the virus, the kids still need to keep holding and looking at the mobile phones, for learning through the online classes. What a year! And we wanted our kids to get their paws off a mobile device!

We are ‘not leaving’ the UK, as yet, as news breaks-in that Britain and the European Union (EU) finally sealed a hard-fought trade agreement, this Christmas Eve, ending over four years of bitter divorce proceedings, ‘revealing’ disagreements, and close, grinding negotiations, post Brexit. Guess, even Santa Claus must have given a nudge, and presents fell-off the sledge, just a week before the 31st December 2020 deadline. The ‘jumbo’ free trade deal is along the lines of that agreed between the EU and Canada and does not cover Services, which constitute 80% of the British Economy. Now, the respective Parliaments of Britain and the EU must ratify the Agreement.

I reckon a deal is better than a no deal. And the deal has happened in the nick of time.

Flying out to Space, on 21st December, Jupiter and Saturn, the two largest planets in our Solar System, of the Milky-Way Galaxy, came closer together than they have been in 400 years. And it’s nearly 800 years since this alignment occurred at night, enabling skywatchers to watch the spectacular sight. They were just 0.1 degrees apart, or about one-fifth of the diameter of a full moon. The astronomical event was called the Great Conjunction and the alignment nicknamed as the ‘Christmas Star’.

The last time these trying-to-fall-in-love-planets were this close and so easy to see was in the year 1226, long before the invention of the telescope. Someone said, ‘distance generates love’. We are seeing and believing.

World over, photographers made superb impressions of the love-scene. The take-away and keep-sake, beneath the sheets, for the next 400 years, for those lonely nights?

Back to Earth. Imagine I’m a young nun (born Beena Thomas), all of 19, besotted by Jesus Christ and wishing to make a career in spreading his word. I join a Christian Convent for a pre-degree course. One hot, humid, Indian summer morning I wake up at 4am, to begin preparations for an upcoming exam. I walk down from my first floor boarding, to the kitchen below, to get some cold water from the refrigerator. While doing this I bump into two male Priests – Fathers, and a Nun, going astray from the principles of the Convent and The Holy Church, in what we all call ‘a compromising position’. Before I know it, I’m struck by an axe, strangled and thrown down into a nearby well – to drown what little life is left of me, and allowed to die.

The Police and the multiple Investigators declare me as a ‘died by suicide’ case – I know I didn’t. And they try to close the Case.

A few right people smell something wrong and dig out the Case, force the authorities to re-investigate, and after a battle of 28 long years, filled with twists and turns, justice is finally delivered. One Priest and the Nun are found guilt and sentenced to life in prison. This is the story of Sister Abhaya in Kottayam, Kerala State, India. It happened on 27th March 1992 and has been one of the longest running cases of Kerala. Now closed.

Do I deserve to die for something I saw and had no intention of seeing? How can the safety level be so low in a place of worship, which mutated into such a barbaric act? What were the Fathers doing in a Nun’s Convent where male presence is generally banned? The Church should wake up to brutal, unforgivable events of this kind happening under its watch – which it didn’t watch.

I rest in peace, but much more needs to be done to prevent such things happening to any other girl of my kind. Never ever should it happen again. We have to crank the Police System to be the guardians of freedom and life on Earth – with God watching from above.

Please Yourself

Pythons for Dinner? Think about it. If China can eat Bats, America can eat Snakes. The predator might soon land on an American dinner table, nicely sliced-up, if Florida Scientists can confirm that Burmese Pythons – an extremely invasive species in the region of Everglades-are safe to eat.

Pythons are nonvenomous constrictors primarily found in South Florida, USA, where they have posed a serious risk to wildlife in the region. The snake is not native to the State, and began appearing in the Everglades in the 1980s when it was most likely to have been introduced as an escaped or released pet.

When pythons are indeed declared safe to eat, they can actually be quite delicious, says one of the ‘Python Hunters’ of a Python Removal Program, established to swallow the Pythons – head to tail.

A mercury testing kit is used to confirm that mercury (if any, from the environment) in their meat is below detection levels. And then, their white meat is turned into food. First, a pressure cooker is used to make the meat soft and tender. Later, pasta is added, then sauce, chilli or stir-fry. Maybe garnish it with coriander or methi?

Mouth watering? I can already picture my tongue forking out, slithering like a snake. Foods choices only keep increasing every year!

It’s Christmas time and I fell in love with this statement by the Top Infectious Diseases Expert of the USA, Dr. Anthony Fauci, talking on a Television program: “I took a trip up there to the North Pole, and I vaccinated Santa Claus myself. I measured his level of immunity, and he is good to go. He can come down the chimney. He can leave the presents. You have nothing to worry about.”

After having ‘touched Santa’, Dr. Fauci himself got vaccinated, over the week. And is now a great buddy of Santa Claus – sent him some layered masks too, as a return gift. Post your wishes to Dr. Fauci – to sledge it to Santa.

Expect a vaccinated, masked Santa Claus to safely deliver all that you wished for.

Time to rethink, reimagine, get-vaccinated, and rebuild.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year 2021.