Analysing the Virushka Phenomenon

Pop Culture

Analysing the Virushka Phenomenon

Illustration: Akshita Monga / Arré


new word has been added to the Indian lexicon and we’re still wrapping our heads around it: Virushka. It’s a strange sounding word and to the freshly arrived alien it could be one of many things. A man’s fragrance from Ukraine? An up-and-coming opening batsman from Sri Lanka? Or possibly, an airborne disease that spreads faster than the smoke from a neighbouring state?

As it turns out, ladies and germs, “Virushka” is the third of the three possibilities suggested above. It has been identified as a highly contagious infection that spreads through airwaves, the interwebz, and good old-fashioned grapevine messenger, and turns hitherto healthy individuals into googly-eyed gawkers with jaws hanging agape. In gossip we trust. In innuendo we trade. In “lehenga dus lakh ka hai” we rejoice.


Two public figures unite. One steps into the union from arc lights, another from the floodlights. One chose to tread the boards, the other chose to run the 22 yards. In their shared happiness we place a shared delight forged from curiosity, envy, and this curious thing we call “public interest”. We sit in front of our phones and our laptops and our television sets, and we await the next sighting of the rare Virushka bird, known for its migratory tendencies, and its designer plumage. Roving reporters become amateur David Attenboroughs, as they attempt to narrate the flight of the Virushka bird, document its courtship rituals, and then divine its state of mind from body language, Instagram posts, and dropped catches.

We await the exclusive pictures. We await the next Twitter update. We breathlessly download the blurry, lo-res video shared by a rogue attendee, which we can then share with a hundred other fellow voyeurs even though we weren’t invited. No, the card didn’t get lost in the mail and we would never gatecrash a stranger’s wedding, but make no mistake, we’re there! In Tuscany, feeling the breeze, checking out the lehenga and smelling what has got to be butter chicken on the buffet. After all, the nation’s darlings aren’t strangers. So what if we didn’t get the card?

Two public figures unite.
In their shared happiness we place a shared delight forged from curiosity, envy, and this curious thing we call “public interest”.

Virushka has arrived and now they must run the gauntlet of public affection. They must give of themselves generously. The sherwani needs be supplanted by the baby stroller. The mother must take a break from Tinseltown. The father must not miss a game and under no circumstance must India suffer.  She must not be selfish and ask him to stay at home. He too, must go to war, bat in hand, mother’s blessing on head, wife’s packed tiffin in kitbag, the nation’s expectations in heart.

The cry of the newborn, when it comes, must be drowned out by the cheering stadium. The runs must never dry up, even if the mother’s milk does. The 21st-century confidence that the couple possesses must never be allowed to subjugate the 11th-century ethos of tribe before self, all before one, World Cup victory before home.

When he fails, and fail he will, as Bradman did, as Tendulkar did, as iPhones do, his bride will bear the brunt.

“Kya Kohli pitch par bhi honeymoon ke khwab dekh rahe hain?”

“Kya Anushka ki daant ke baad Virat game par dhyaan nahin de pa rahe hain?”

“Anushka rehna chahti hain Mumbai mein, Virat Dilli mein boodhi ma ke saath… aage kya hoga, dekhte hain is ad break ke baad.”

But we digress. There’ll be plenty of time for all that. The first Test starts on January 5 in Cape Town. It’s a beautiful city. Let the Virushka bird perch there quietly for a week or two.

But after that, ladies and germs, it’s back to the nets!

“Salman, kya aap is saal finally shaadi kar rahe hain?”