Coughing is contagious.

“Duh. Prahalad, have you been living under a rock for two years? Of course coughs are contagious. That is why we wore face masks in the pandemic”, I hear you telling me.

“Coughs themselves may not be contagious, but the germs they carry may be contagious”, the scientists and doctors among you may be thinking.

But I stand by my statement. Coughing is contagious. Allow me to tell you a story to illustrate this.

In the 2019 Chennai Kundalini camp, the organizers placed cough drops on both sides of the room. Participants were encouraged to take cough drops to minimize coughing. After all, a single cough would mean that the room would no longer have pin-drop silence during Swamiji’s lecture.

It was the second or third day of the camp. I don’t exactly recall the trigger, but my best guess is that Swamiji said He needed silence for the upcoming segment. “If you want, feel free to finish your coughing now”, Swamiji said in jest.

Except that we, the audience, didn’t take it in jest. 

One person started coughing. Then a second. Two became four. Soon, the entire room was coughing. For 45-60 seconds, this room produced one of the most bizarre sights ever: a room full of healthy people coughing in unison. In case you were wondering, I coughed as well. Of course, after the cough-fest finished, nobody coughed again and there was perfect silence when Swamiji delivered the lecture.

So there you go – coughing is contagious!

Afterthought: If something such as coughing can be contagious, is it any surprise that opinions, beliefs, prejudices are contagious? Having recognized this, how about quarantining ourselves from people with negative opinions, beliefs and prejudices?

Image Credit: Rob Curran from Unsplash

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Prahalad Rajkumar

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