This the second post from photographer and writer Pranav Lal and this week he reflects on how some fiction might over offer tips on survival skills should a pandemic such as Covid-19 eventually overwhelm the world. (I feel relatively safe sharing this post as most of our countries lift their restrictions, but sounds like a useful survival manual).
Z-Day UK and COVID-19 by Pranav Lal
Many of you reading this post are in lock down which means moving out of your house is severely restricted. I should pause and ask how many of you think I am going to talk about what to do?
There is plenty of advice out there on what to do. One thing I was doing was rereading Z-Day UK by Mark Long. Mr. Long’s book deals with a zombie apocalypse situation where a virus begins to make ordinary humans zombies. This is not as far fetched as it may seem. I am not talking about COVID-19 here. The agent per SE does not matter.
As of this writing, people are not zombies nor is law and order breaking down at least for now. I have been thinking about what happens once the lock down is lifted. We need to maintain social distance. People are not going to attack us but there is that 2 meter gap that we should maintain else risk being infected. There are valuable lessons in the book that we can adapt to this situation.
The easiest lesson to apply is the bit about staying covered. What should I wear? Admittedly, military grade equipment as suggested in some parts of the book is hard to come by but one should aim for getting the best protective equipment as far as possible. Think motor cycle leathers.
One of the first chapters in the book is about building a base of operations. I am in India and have been thinking about this very hard. The cities are crowded but so are the villages. Think of all the migrants moving back to the villages. As the book says, you do not want to be stuck when the exodus begins. I do not have any firm answers. May be a farm in the suburbs?
The countryside is actually a better choice but again, the India context is a little different due to our population density. I plan to read chapter 11 that goes into details before buying any property. Transportation too is a consideration. We have plenty of bicycles and they are not hard to get. We can get quite far on them. Tractors are also easy to get and I suspect the venerable Mahindra tractor should do the job; not that we need to run away from people just now.
The next question is of skills. This is a particular issue for those of us who use the computer as a means of livelihood like programmers, cyber security professionals etc. We are working from home and our work is uniquely suited to such a near 100% digital setup but in the event we do have to move away from the Internet, what hard skill can we acquire? First aid comes to mind for one thing and so does carpentry and cooking. These skills are handy to have in any case.
There is a significant amount of space devoted to heating and using older houses as they are better adapted to handle a lack of electricity. Indian conditions vary widely but we do have plenty of wood and coal burning stoves which we will have to go back to. Fuel does not last.
Creating a defensible area though is a challenge especially in the Indo-Gangetic Plain. Flat land does not make for easily defensible territory. However, it is a question worth considering especially if you plan to create a permanent base.
There is much much more in the book and it has been brought into sharp relevance for me thanks to COVID-19. My favorite section is on libraries and the storage of knowledge. If we do enter the world Mr. Long has described or get close to one, please do not forget this aspect.
©Pranav Lal April 2020
About Pranav Lal
Pranav Lal is a short story and novella writer based out of New Delhi, India and the author of seven books. These include the Telekinesis Trilogy series – Telekinesis (2015), Led Weight (2018), and Cult 2019 ; Venture Capital (2015), In Case of Emergency (2015), Julia (2015), and the audio enabled comic book Bakasura (2016).
Pranav is blind and that makes him put his characters through tough and complex situations. He imagines how one would think, process, evaluate, and take decisions, and see the effects of those playing out – the cycle of Karma and Dharma. He also likes to read the New Scientist, Scientific American, Science Direct – magazines that focus on the shape of technology and its effects on humankind. And this provides him the opportunity to explore different concepts, especially in science, with a common underlying theme – human psychology.
Pranav also writes non-fiction and has been featured in print, news, and on other media platforms. He works in a multinational corporation.
Thank you for dropping by and Pranav would love to have your feedback . thanks Sally.