Celebrating the Peltzman Effect

So my friend, who is a researcher at John Hopkins Institute, introduced me to the Peltzman Effect.

Published: 03rd April 2021 06:14 AM  |   Last Updated: 03rd April 2021 06:14 AM   |  A+A-

Rubi Chakravarti with friends at The Grand Mercure, Gopalan Mall

Express News Service

BENGALURU: Good morning Bangalore!

Again I took an unplanned hiatus, and this time around I was mad as hell! Veritably one must be thankful to the Universe for dodging a bullet but unfortunately, my husband who has no co-morbidities had to be hospitalised. After protecting ourselves and anyone who would listen for over a year, being called the ‘crazy lady’ who always carried sanitiser, gloves and extra masks in her LV never full, (‘Lalit-Vijay’ for the uninitiated), staying up nights to register for the vaccine, imparting information to friends and family about how to go about getting vaccinated, we end up testing positive ourselves because some ‘derriere orifice’ did not adhere to a simple protocol of masking up! I had all good reason to spew venom! For some time I used to dream of being Disney’s Ice Queen and blowing my Cardi-B breath over the cretins who thought it’s their birthright to be stupid!

So my friend, who is a researcher at John Hopkins Institute, introduced me to the Peltzman Effect. The Peltzman Effect is a theory which states that people are more likely to indulge in risky behaviour when security measures have been mandated. A doctor friend lamented that he treated thousands of patients with Covid-19 for several months and was not positive. But after taking the vaccination he became positive with the virus. In his case, a perception of safety increased his risk appetite. We too, my husband and I tested positive a week after taking the vaccine…sigh!

After closeting myself in my home for over a year, feeling depressed, despondent and elated in turns, knowing for the first time what it was not to work or have an expendable income. Not being able to think or share new ideas or concepts with colleagues and friends was frustrating and I kept telling myself to count my blessings…but I was done! Like the majority of the entitled people I was done. Even the idea of grabbing a cuppa with your girl-friends, going to the parlour or attending a brain-dead event seemed so enticing. I will honestly admit (though most people dying to ‘look good’ will not even acknowledge it), my relationship with my spouse and kids were at an all-time low.

Thrown into a proximity that was too close for comfort, the relationship dynamics, the abject fear of getting ill and being dependent and the children not understanding your fears but self-absorbed in their own worlds was devastating. All of us were trying so hard to make this strange new world work for us. After all, how happy could one feel with dancing peacocks on the roads, revival of wildlife in the forests and oceans and chirping birds? After a while, all I felt was a sense of envy and ennui!

So now, after limping back to our (new) normal, I do feel a sense of compassion for the teeming hordes on the streets and in the pubs and restaurants. I understand when 200 people push (with no masks and 6 inches of social distancing) trying to get into a movie theatre. I am not a crusader anymore…I’m a more benevolent human being who understands that we have zero sense of responsibility for ourselves or others. Before, we were wearing Victoria Secrets lacy under-garments on our faces pretending we were masked…now we don’t care and are busy doing a ‘Full Monty’!

Since I didn’t even dare to go for a drive to Mysore Road, I decided to do what everybody else was doing…A staycation! We checked into The Grand Mercure, Gopalan Mall, ate fabulous food, had a spa date, and schmoozed with friends, Sachin Maheshwari and Chef Suvranjan Banerjee (who fed me till I was blue in the face). Want to know a secret? I loved it! It was wonderful to be unafraid and joyful. Is it the Peltzman Effect…who cares!


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