Life after lockdown

M K Tayal:Life is going to be different post pandemic lockdown and the world is not going to be the same again. This is the common sentiment one comes across on social media in these isolation times. Covid 19 is so deadly – it can’t be seen and stays on door handles and lift buttons. It stays on objects, surfaces or floors. The virus is transported by humans, from humans to humans… (And how did it start – a bat, okay!) It remains floating in the air for a considerable time (from an hour to may be a day – depending on what information you rely or believe on). This SARS CoV-2 is transmitted by air currents – in that sense it is air borne.

Covid 19, corona virus, has taken the lives of 2.5 lakh people across the world whereas 3.5 million are infected. From USA, Europe, Asia – in fact all 212 countries, recognized by the United Nations or not have been impacted the virulent virus.  USA leads in casualty figures with Italy, Spain, France and UK above the 25k mark with Germany and the rest of the world trailing behind. Of course, China is the main source from where the virus originated and the world is viewing the dragon as the culprit for unleashing the deadly virus.

Currently 82 countries are in lockdown or stay home conditions. India leads the pack after China in terms of really cracking the whip on its citizens, so hard that even buying veggies became a problem for many.  The police had a field day, beating and scarring the citizenry in retreating to their homes. India was packed inside homes for more than 41 says excluding the ‘Janta Curfew’.

Never mind the mindlessness of the lockdown or the subsequent lack of planning and government’s actions and reactions that kept tumbling out from the South Block closet. Mind you, Prime Minister Narendra Modi cannot do any wrong. He successfully pitched the lockdown, scarring the citizens to stay indoors and made them become corona warriors, while snatching the jobs and livelihood from peoples’ lives and successfully evading any responsibility.

Modi flew the ‘rich’ from virus-affected lands back home in chartered flights while migrant workers had to walk for miles and days on end to reach their homes. Some never making it.

Of course medical services were also out of the reach of the sick and needy as public transport was off and missing common sense in the closure of government hospitals’ OPDs. Lack of testing kits or PPEs is being managed. Of course, it’s pointless to reiterate, the PM is above reproach as he can do no wrong. It is the people war and people had to and are required to fight daily battles for the nation.

It’s your responsibility, you citizen of the country. Ask not what the country is doing for you, but what you are doing for your nation. Today, as the world’s strictest lockdown comes to an end today, life is not going…

Dos and don’ts

There are still many points to be confirmed by science but the narrative is like just stick to your room, don’t go out of the house, don’t meet anyone, don’t shake hands, don’t get too close to anyone, don’t touch your face, wash your hands after touching any object, don’t eat out… Too many dos and don’ts to be followed! And life is not going to be the same again.

Since currency notes can also possibly be a carrier, so hang on. Don’t accept cash… Do digital transfers… The list is exhaustive even if not endless.

What is it going to be like?

Now comes the most obvious question: Then what the heck is it going to be like. Just hit the pause button and reflect. The question is freedom to live. But sadly, we don’t have the liberty to ask such a fundamental question.

Since change is permanent and the need of the hour, just envision few daily life scenarios: From how you are going to work to the school education of your children or how your kids are going to go there; all aspect of your life could undergo dramatic changes and how.

If you expect be travelling in a crowded bus or local train in Mumbai or Delhi or your flight, can you expect them to be half empty. If so, are you willing to pay double, triple the tariff?

You are required to maintain minimum six feet of distance from your next desk colleague at work place. Your children are not to be cramped together in dingy class rooms. Restaurants and malls will have to evolve to be going about their businesses and receive same footfalls. And social gatherings are going to be limited and there is going to be no more parties and marriages…

Hello, are we taking this too far? But is there really going to such a dramatic shift in the way we are going to live the rest of the lives.

Let us take a business scenario: Do you expect any shopkeeper, his help to wash hands every time they finish dealing with a customer? Do you visualizing cleaning all packets that you take to your home or the shopkeeper to sanitizing his shop after each customer visit or say 12 customers visit. And if so, for how long! Do you think the factory owners or their staff is going to sanitize their hands and wash them after each smoke break they take? It’s not going to happen? At least not in the Indian context! It ain’t happening and even if it does, they will be back to the routine even before you know it!

Do you expect the local samosa vendor to disappear from the market? What about the local tea vendor or local dhabba? It ain’t happening and even if it does, they will be back…!

How about a world minus tobacco or pan masala? Yes, you may argue, the government will ban them. But can you imagine them not in the market for long? And do you expect the government to erect spit bins at every nook and corner or staircase? And what about the loss of revenue to the Government? It ain’t happening and even if does…

The schools are going to change dramatically. With limited resource and spaces available, how will they be expected to acquire additional properties! The high-end schools would probably showcase their adaptability but imagining a complete transformation for long, it ain’t happening.

Marriages or social gatherings may undergo changes to keep the costing under limits or till the time threat looms, but after that? Will people be different in their social interactions? Will the social media, that the world is clinging on as the last hope of time pass, connectivity, humour and existence in general, be the last straw in human interaction and communication.  And can the world boycott China and Chinese products?

People are scared as of now, scared of death lurking round the corner. But when people get fed of extended periods of lockdown or government narrative of social distancing, they will revolt and come out. You already can feel the palpable restless as economic loss, hunger, poverty start pinching existence and take over fear. The government is already under pressure to review its lockdown and thus had to give relief to half the country and divide areas into zones. 

And as normalcy would take over, people will resort to the old ways. The people have a habit of forgetting. They may be all alert and jerky when the lockdowns are eased initially but once completely lifted, and they will have to so, people will revert to their old ways.

So expecting dramatic transformation at this stage is a little out of pulp fiction. Unless the number of causalities sky rockets beyond any imagination, nothing much will change. Those seeing as the end of the world, it ain’t happening. Though it’s not going to be the same again in the near future…  But with some changes, it will.

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