BENGALURU: Two months into the lockdown, and ennui was setting in. We had lived out our fantasies – gourmet cooking, granny recipes, celeb dieting, gardening, virtual concerts, sleeping, eating, more sleeping, reading, some more sleeping – and no doubt, were a very healthy bunch of humans, ready to take on any virus. Kids had driven parents up the wall, spouses were ever ready for battle, and the entire ‘cosy together at home’ idea was beginning to pall. We were yearning for the old normal.
Around this time, a friend on FB did a dipstick poll, asking what we missed most during the lockdown. It elicited the simplest of replies: meeting friends, chatting, shopping, travelling, eating out, pubbing, malling… the small joys of ordinary folk. People missed people. While the lockdown took its toll on everyone, there have been stories of how those living alone were more troubled; time seemed to crawl by, and the strange silence seemed especially jarring. The virtual world became their reality, more than ever before.
Deprived of their divertissements, the very folk are raring to crawl out of the woodwork again. Unlock 1.0 is upon us, and the excitement is palpable. Social media groups are buzzing with meeting plans: when, where, with whom…? No doubt, weekends will soon come alive with reunions, get-togethers, parties, as frenzied rounds of socialising begin. What was illicit activity some weeks ago is licit again.
Everyone’s ready to get on with the locking dance, to go out and reclaim life, pushing fear aside. Now that we have welcomed the coronavirus, opening our arms wider with each phase of lockdown – like we would for a beloved expat on a Vande Bharat flight – we have more or less reconciled ourselves to the fact that it’s here to stay. So no point locking the stable door – the virus is in, and fear is out. Almost.
We are ready to put the lockdown behind us – it seems to have achieved little other than having chewed into jobs, salaries and savings – much like those rogue locusts. We have dared to gingerly step into parlours and stores, masked and sanitised, and are willing to explore wider horizons.
The popular question now doing the rounds is: Since you are free again, what will you do?
What I would love to do is take a train ride. The simple childlike joy of sitting at a window and watching the world hurtle by, stopping at crowded, dirty, noisy stations is inexpressible… there’s something alive and dynamic about a train journey.
I vividly remember a scene at New Delhi Railway Station: A train heading towards Haryana was on the platform, and an eye-popping number of people were trying to cram themselves in. One group was obviously shifting house, and had brought household appliances along. I remember seeing a TV set and mixer vanishing into the innards of the compartment, and kids being pushed in through windows... that was the Railways of a bygone era. And this is the Covidian era.