Misfortune Favors The Paranoid

A mother losing her child to the ocean in Udappu. People formed a human chain and got the child safely back

When COVID-19 hit we suddenly had to be paranoid about everything. Breathing. Going outside. Having supplies. I really thought things would get back to normal someday, but they haven’t.

It’s just been wave after wave, not just COVID but compounding disasters. Sri Lanka avoided COVID once but then it got us. Then cooking gas started both exploding and running out. Then we got power cuts. Then fuel ran out. Now the whole economy has collapsed.

We left the shores of normalcy long ago. Now we’re treading water in the open ocean, holding onto driftwood if we’re lucky. Lots of us just drowned.

Before each wave, there’s been some sign, some inkling, and each time it’s been unbelievable. Each time I’ve thought “that couldn’t happen” and each time it does. At this point, I’m paranoid AF. We react immediately to any perceived danger because we know where any hesitation gets us. Underwater. Acting like we have anything to stand on is just folly. We’re all just barely holding on.

They say fortune favors the brave, but these are not fortunate times. Misfortune favors the paranoid. So that’s what we are.

Money Paranoia

Sensing a coming shit storm, we went to the gold shop’s on Sea Street, but so did everybody else. We decided to come back another day. But that day never came. Gold prices skyrocketed. Misfortune doesn’t take rain-checks. It is the rain.

Then the currency started collapsing and the wave of global capital that had washed over us after the war started to recede. We couldn’t get debt to service our debt. We had followed self-serving western advice and never industrialized, and so we had no real way of earning dollars. And so the rupee started to crater. It lost 50% of its value in a few weeks. The black market rate which actually functions is even worse.

We had all of our money in savings but that was losing sometimes 10% a day. So we pulled out what we could and bought anything that we could, in my charming parlance, ‘shove in our butts and flee with.’ Watches, gems, anything that was available here. We even held crypto for brief periods (like hours) just to sell it abroad and get another currency. We also tried to give away as much as we could to the poor, because god knows the gods are angry.

At every moment we did this before the need became obvious, because by then it was too late. When we felt things were wrong we went out and bought physical assets that day. And sure enough they disappeared or the prices went up the very next day. When the rupee started cratering we moved money out immediately. And sure enough, it only got worse in the days to follow.

We’d been saving money for a while, but this was different. This was salvaging. We lost probably 40% of our savings which is fine, people have lost 90% of their food. We managed to protect a bit only because we were paranoid and we reacted quickly, but we should have done it earlier, when we first had an inkling. Misfortune has no mercy.

Everything Paranoia