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The coronavirus is mutating but we’re not  

It’s Friday night at a Delhi club. Singer Nikk is performing his hit songs with the cool confidence of a man with 563k Insta followers.

Published: 01st May 2022 05:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 01st May 2022 10:07 AM   |  A+A-

It’s Friday night at a Delhi club. Singer Nikk is performing his hit songs with the cool confidence of a man with 563k Insta followers. The place is packed with a crowd of young and not-so-young things, gyrating wherever they find a place. Two days later, 150 of Hyderabad’s young A-listers are attending a rave party at a pub (where they’re busted by the police for doing drugs). Across the country, a Kolkata businessman is planning a wedding reception for 350 people. “I no longer have to limit my guests or worry about the police breaking up the party,” he says.

It’s a similar story everywhere. Across urban India, people are packing bars, clubs and wedding venues to drink, dance and party. It doesn’t matter that Covid-19 is back, like an unwanted house guest. Fresh infections have doubled in India over the last week, with three states accounting for the bulk of the new cases. I know over two dozen people personally who’re down with the virus. Those who’ve had it before claim that this round is less severe but still exhausting. The over-50s complain of debilitating fatigue. I hope they all get well soon, with no side effects.

I’m more intrigued, though, by those roaming free. People are back in the malls shopping and dining with a vengeance, attending opulent weddings, and packing the airports to take flights across the world. They aren’t bothered about Covid. They just want to live life with renewed vigour, as if to make up for the time they’ve lost to the pandemic. They include old people as well as young. The older lot, many of whom are over 70, say they’re done with hiding in their homes. “I’ve lived a full life. If Covid is going to kill me, so be it,” a retired diplomat tells me. The younger ones, meanwhile, act as if they’re invincible (“this strain of Covid can’t do any real damage”) and say they just want to have fun.   

Isn’t this very different from the tune everyone sang last year? Didn’t people undertake to live more meaningful lives and stay clear of reckless spending and socialising? Having discovered that ‘health is wealth’, didn’t they promise to eat and drink mindfully even when the world returned to normal? Moved by the sad state of the planet, didn’t they pledge oaths to sustainability and vow to recycle their garbage 
and clothes?   

They stayed true to their word initially, I know. Even when the restrictions were lifted, people stayed home, put family first and indulged in therapeutic activities such as cooking and gardening. Yes, they shopped but it was largely for the kitchen or tracks and tees to replace the ones they’d worn holes into. If they travelled, it was to family homes or secluded homestays. 

So, what changed? Why have the last two years’ noble resolutions gone with the wind?  Is it because most of us are double-vaccinated and, hence, feeling unbeatable? Or have people just decided to take writer Wayne Dyer’s advice and go for it now because ‘the future is promised to no one’? Does anyone have the answer?

shampadhar@gmail.com



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