Jugaad: Trust Indians to search how to make vaccines at home

It was reported in the newspapers that one of the questions googled up most often in India in December-January was this one: “How to make a Coronavirus vaccine at home?”

Jugaad: Trust Indians to search how to make vaccines at home
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Tabish Khair

It was reported in the newspapers that one of the questions googled up most often in India in December-January was this one: “How to make a Coronavirus vaccine at home?”

I am not surprised. We are known for our capacity for ‘jugaad’. I am sure a proper Indian (of the sort who successfully banged plates to frighten away the virus some months ago) would pick up the ingredients of the vaccine from the corner shop, take them home wrapped in newspaper, and instruct his mother, wife or sister to make it in the kitchen. Jaldi karo. And don’t forget to add a bit of salt for taste.

Now, I am not that kind of a jugaadi person. I am simply going to wait for a manufactured vaccine to reach me, after undergoing all due tests. But I have a lot of admiration for such jugaadi people. After all, our entire nation is being run by them these days. It is really very admirable.

As such, it pained me to realise that there is no recipe for making a vaccine available online. This, I suspect, is a conspiracy of Big Pharma. China might have a hand in it too. However, having spoken to some people who obviously know more than me, I have been able to assemble a recipe. I am providing it here in the hope that the readers of National Herald would pass it on to jugaadi plate-banging people of their acquaintance, because I suspect that readers of National Herald are also, like me, not really jugaadi.

The main ingredient for the concoction of a vaccine in your kitchen is ignorance. Now, it is true that not many Indians have been awarded the Ignoble Prize. This is not a surprise either. We know that ‘Noble’ and ‘Nobel’ Prizes tend to go to people in the West, or Indians based there. It is all a conspiracy.

Here, back home, we have such accomplished people as Baba Ramdev and Sri Sri who have not been awarded the Nobel. Why should the Ignoble Prize be any different? If this was a fair world, I am sure we would win the Ignoble Prize every year! Maybe every month! Every day! So, don’t worry, ignorance is in vast supply in our great nation. It is very cheaply available.

But ignorance on its own will not do. It needs to come combined with another natural ingredient: a distinctive strain of over-confidence. It is this streak of over-confidence, sometimes also called brashness, that brings out the magical flavours of ignorance. Ignorance on its own is usually ineffective. Brashness, also called over-confidence, acts as a catalyst on it. It sharpens its flavours too, like a dash of ‘hing.’

This is good news. Because now you do not need to go into the hinterland in search of ignorance. As you are probably a city person, you might be deceived into thinking that ignorance is found in villages. This is not true: farmers in villages actually know what they are doing in their fields and with their crops, though of course you would not believe that. They are not ignorant of their needs, constraints and hopes. Far from it. And whatever little ignorance you might find in a village is not of the right kind, for it does not come mixed with enough brashness.

For the right kind of ignorance, combined with brashness, you have to look in towns and cities. I am told that offices of corporations and high bureaucratic places offer the best variety. But you can also find a fairly usable variety in any middle-class colony. Just accost an Uncleji or Auntyji and ask a question about, say, Muslims, Leftists or the Constitution. If the Auntyji or Uncleji starts foaming at the mouth while answering the question, you have found the right variety of ignorance mixed with brashness. Scrape it off the Uncleji or Auntyji, and bring it home.

After that, the process is much simpler. Put it in a brass pot.

Note: it has to be a brass pot.

Make sure it is not ‘Made in China.’

Add a bit of hocus-pocus and mumbo-jumbo to it. There are various options here, but the urine of a particular milk-giving mammal is highly recommended. It is easy to get, and the right thing to do these days. Everyone has to do the right thing these days. You can also add a bit of your own urine. That has been done in the past, and the past is no light matter.

Because, actually, you do need some dark matter now. That is a necessary ingredient: dark matter. The past will do, perfectly. Find any bit of the past – our country is strewn with it – and toss it into the pot.

Make sure you do not hurt anyone’s sentiments while picking up that bit of the past. Bits of past are usually found in heaps of sentiment. This is a delicate matter. Go about it carefully, and in all seriousness. No, do not joke: humour works as an antidote on all such vaccine recipes. Stay poker faced all through the activity.

Now there is just one step left. You have to bring everything that you have put in the brass pot to a boil. But, and this is the catch, it should not be put on fire. Not even indirectly, as in boiling water. There is actually only one way of boiling this sacred concoction. You need to turn on the TV, find a particularly rabid talk show, and put the pot on top of the TV set. I am told it takes about 73 seconds for the pot to start boiling.

Take it down. Wait for it to cool. Call in your family and friends. Enjoy!

(Oh yes, and remember to add salt, according to taste.)

( Sketch courtesy: Sukumar Ray's Abol Tabol)

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