When we meet socially, what's going to happen in our heads will we confidently shake each other's hands, will we refrain from the bear hug? If the person next to us has a cough, will social distancing take on new meaning?
And so, we're closing in on a month of the lockdown. There is much I've thought about personally. How I'd like to be post the Coronavirus period. More patient, more compassionate, more grateful, a reminder that life is short. And there's much I've pondered about philosophically—where are we headed both in that larger spiritual sense and on a smaller day-to-day level. It's been a great leveller, this virus, flattened the curve, so to speak, in more ways than one.
The Coronavirus has shut us all down, universally. It doesn't matter who you are, the fact is you're sealed in, stuck inside your own private lockdown, imprisoned, whether you see it as isolation or inspiration, that's your perspective. "Dude, I'm getting fried", "I love my kids but 24x7 with them, can get trying", it's all about being stuck indoors.
I've also wondered where India will be politically, as a nation, when the worst is over.
Before March 24, we were turning into the hate capital of the world. No question. Leader hubris, lynching as a regular occurrence, non-entities masquerading as luminaries, and social media was a case of the good, the bhakt and the ugly. But overnight, none of this mattered. No one mattered. We were at the mercy of an all powerful, pandemic. So, will we return to the nation of non-governance that we were, non-issues taking precedence over real problems? Or, are there serious lessons learnt?
This isn't just an enemy outside our door, it's on our doorknob. We're used to physical foes and fears—a pile of bodies, a pall of smoke, a tall building collapsed, multiple bombs exploding, but this is unprecedented. It lurks in the ether, colourless, odourless, the invisible antagonist, the superheroes worst nightmare. How will Marvel interpret this phenomenon? Or will they spin it around and make it the modern Clark Kent/Superman, invisible only to his enemies. Or, will we see the next blockbuster, Avengers: Age of COVID-19?
Then, of course, there are the perennial hashtags that were bound to spring up. #LockdownDiaries, #SelfIsolation, #SocialDistancing #Quarantine
But there's one that annoys me, #TheNewNormal. Largely because I'm uncertain about what the old normal was.
Is the new normal, an extension of habits that we've developed during the lockdown?
How do we even know how we'll behave, considering the virus is still outside our door?
Finally, at what point will ever beat the paranoia?
Every pandemic or violent historical period has had an expiry or end date—the Dark Ages, the Great Depression, 9/11. How will we define the end of COVID-19?
And how will we live our lives from here on?
When we meet socially, what's going to happen in our heads…will we confidently shake each other's hands, will we refrain from the bear hug? If the person next to us has a cough, will social distancing take on new meaning?
Is it truly going to be business as usual?
Or, has something locked down in us forever?
Rahul daCunha is an adman, theatre director/playwright, photographer and traveller. Reach him at email@example.com
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