Past, Present And Future

In the summer of 1830, Russia was experiencing one of its worst pandemics. Cholera spread far and wide. A sip of contaminated water or a little unwitting touch of sewage will make people sick–diarrhea, vomiting, shock and death quickly followed. The tsar imposed quarantines and travel restrictions and cordons guarded by the military on many cities along the Volga River. Drinking non-boiled water was a criminal offense, eating a fruit was an illegal activity, and passing a barrier without a pass was shot at. Since the cause of cholera was largely unknown, many extreme measures–usually chlorine–were used to fumigate and wash the quarantined people and their residence.

Rumors and antagonisms against minorities and foreign travelers were rampant, accusing them of poisoning the wells and spreading the disease. Soon all kinds of hell broke out and the collected madness resulted in the cholera riot in November at a town not far from Moscow when mobs raided local hospitals to kill the doctors and to free the patients, after which they attacked police stations. Military had to be called in to suppress the unrest. After this, many violent unrest happened all over Russia. One year later, the cholera finally died down, after claiming about a quarter million lives.

This is the beginning chapter from “The King Of Vodka” by Linda Himelstein about one of the typical pandemics happened in the past. Reading this makes one feel better about the current pandemic–at least such hysteria hasn’t happened and such violence is no longer common.

I can observe the damage the pandemic has done to the local small businesses–restaurants, dry cleaners, community newspapers, convenient stores etc. There used to be so many community newspapers that the entrances to the grocery stores are scenes of paper riots, but now there are only a few–many such small businesses just disappear into the oblivion without a sound. My favorite convenient store was gone several months ago. The dry cleaner I went to has very few patrons now, unlike in the past when the waiting line went from the store to the curb. The most frustrating scene is at the restaurants. I wonder how many small business restaurants will survive the current onslaught. Those big restaurant chains probably can survive–I don’t know–since they can afford to erect big tents outside and their space inside is bigger. Also the big corporations may have financing resources that help them survive the leaner time. For small businesses, it is a death blow. How many people would dare to start an Asian restaurant from now on? The new restaurant renovation takes fifty thousand dollars easily and often go up to eighty thousand or more, even for a modest place. What if another pandemic comes and all these investments would be lost?

I heard that the next pandemic is very likely to come sooner rather than later, and it is described in the new book “The Premonition” by Michael Lewis. I have read his “Liar’s Poker”, “boomerang”, and “The Fifth Risk” and liked them very much, although I dislike “The New New Thing”, which for some reason loses the customary irony that makes Michael Lewis’ books so interesting.

I really want to know the prediction people have for the next pandemic. And I hope another pandemic is preventable.

46 thoughts on “Past, Present And Future

  1. You may be correct, but a different kind of violence and criminal neglect is still happening, though. I mean in other areas (whispers: here in the Philippines). In our current environment we always expect the worst, I guess. Really curious about this book you mentioned now. Will check it out too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s so true. Although we are living in a modern world and many bad things still happen. Somehow the pandemic makes people feel something bad is going to happen–inflation, unemployment, political instabilities etc. I was just talking about this today with my friends.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Some wonderful history you have recounted here regarding the Cholera pandemic. It was a telling time and the events in Russia were certainly in the middle of it all. When the cause of Cholera was discovered, many didn’t believe the initial diagnosis. It took another 30 years or so for the science to be accepted.

    Sadly, I believe COVID will not be the last pandemic. However, on the positive side, synthetic biology is going to be a big factor in helping us deal with the current pandemic and with what is to come. The technology gets better everyday. Along with this though, is remembering to continue to embrace social distancing, wearing of masks and good hygiene.

    Sadly, small business is bearing much of the brunt regarding the impact of the pandemic. However, many businesses where I am have reinvested and are doing things differently. We have now implemented a surgical/strategic approach regarding any breakouts we have had here and they seem to be working. Two weeks ago, we were locked down for three days and then when we were expecting to be locked down again this week, it hasn’t happened (as yet) as the mechanisms we have in place now regarding containment based on contact tracing and rapid testing results has meant business has been able to stay open, except for night clubs. I guess the bottom line is we keep trying to find more effective ways to, deal with, and live with, this thing.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. You are right on the spot. When something is too new and too at odds, people just don’t accept it, including the scientists themselves.

      Wow, that’s amazing. Yes, rapid contact tracing and diligent cleaning and containing will help most people live a normal life. Locking down the whole place is so harmful, especially to small businesses.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Here in Germany we have basically been in lockdown since last November. Shops had started to open a few weeks back but we had to call and get appointments for clothes shopping etc. Now they are closed again and like everyone else in this tragedy I wonder which small businesses will survive this. Just like I hope my favourite restaurant around the corner will reopen. One of the few who manage to make a good Wiener Schnitzel (Viennese schnitzel) and Cordon bleu. Something the Germans are not exactly good at. As an Austrian living in Germany I have to suffer from their idea of what a schnitzel looks like (soggy and covered in mushroom or red pepper sauce …) Great post about the Cholera pandemic in Russia. Makes me want to buy the book. The flu pandemic in the First World War was one of those tragedies as well … letโ€™s hope next time wonโ€™t come too soon and we will be better prepared. ๐Ÿ˜Š

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Wow, thank you for the comment. I heard about Cordon bleu before and it sounds so exotic and it looks so cute. I’ve never known Austrians are so different from Germans. Yes, I can sympathize with your dislike of German schnitze. LOL. I just googled it. Some things only are perfect in one’s hometown. Other places can emulate but never the same. Let’s hope the current crisis will be over soon and the next one will never come. ๐Ÿ˜œ

        Liked by 2 people

  3. I have always wondered how some people can just know what’s going to happen in future. Some of the books and movies which came about ten years ago are so relatable now. I hope we don’t have a next one to come.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I hope not. Let’s pray this one will go away. It’s long enough and the suffering is piling up. Yes, it is said somebody actually predicted several years back that there would be a global pandemic. Can’t believe it. I guess nobody believe in the ominous prediction.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. If every dark tunnel has light at the end of it, waiting for this gloomy one to end, sooner than later. Never thought we would see something like this. We draw courage from the mantra, ‘This too shall pass…’ and invoke a Sanskrit prayer, Samastha Loka Sukhino Bhavantu…which translates into ‘May the whole world be healthy and happy..’

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes, Sanskrit prayer is exactly what we need now and let the ancient wisdom help us draw courage and fight gloom. It is said the Spanish flu waged for about 2 to 3 years before finally going away. I hope with today’s technology, this one will be overcome sooner.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. LOL. That’s so funny. That will end up everybody fighting everybody else. Hahaha. Let me think who I want to tell my truthful feeling to first if I’m infected with the truth bug. LOL.


  5. I thought the same – luckier this time, if we are allowed to say that comparing pandemics. Still, the damage to the economy and small businesses is crazy, and very sad. It gets sadder in developing countries like us when our government is unable to provide adequately no matter how hard they try. As for the next pandemic, wasnโ€™t there a certain number of years when the next one is projected to occur? Shame that I forgot.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I do think there will be another one of some description sooner rather than later. However, I read a really useful perspective the other day and that is, we need to monitor and do extensive sampling of animals and humans at the places where they interact or what they call the animal-human interface. This will then enable novel viruses to be detected as soon as they appear in humans and before they establish pandemics. This makes perfect sense to me!

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Yes, we are lucky that now science is more advanced than before and a lot of atrocities caused by superstition has died down. Yes, you are right. Governments are not accustomed in dealing with pandemics and the cases are just piling up. When will this nightmare be over? I can’t wait.


    1. Yes, I am going to read it, but I read slowly and I hope I can finish it and give a book review. LOL. I am very bad at writing book review though. Most of the time, I just get carried away by my own babbling, rather than concentrating on the book being reviewed. LOL.


    1. I do hope so too and wish all those troublesome places can be closely monitored. Isn’t that amazing? I heard about that. It seems most of the African countries have no more cases of COVID than common cold.

      Liked by 1 person

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