THE YEAR WE LEARNT DANCING — part 1/2

Image Courtesy — Sasin Tipchai from Pixabay

I — Black Swan Cometh

“But a lot more people die of Hepatitis B or Pneumonia, or for that matter of traffic accidents! This COVID humbug is sensationalist media and Whatsapp University,” I was holding forth, with the righteousness of a clueless.

II Pandemonium

In Dubai, companies announce salary cuts, send staff on furloughed leave, and the loss of jobs looks imminent. One can’t get in a bank without wearing a mask and supermarkets layout stickers at 6 feet distance to avoid crowding. Landlords defer rent collections in UAE, and the homeless in the USA may stay in hotels, free of cost. Over 50% of the world population is in lockdown. Government and Central Banks are throwing kitchen sinks at the economy to fend off this pandemic and yet coming short. New terms like WFH (Work from Home) PPE (Personal Protective Equipment), Social Distancing enter everyday conversations.

  • Social gatherings, celebrations, marriages, religious congregations restricted. Violators get heavy fines
  • Anxiety, loneliness, depression rise. Telemedicine grows
  • Takeout and home delivery everywhere; E-Commerce and Amazon stocks rock
  • The arrival of remote therapy, yoga lessons, coaching, pets training, social games, zoom parties
  • Death of branch banking and physical payments–customers move online
  • Churches, Mosques, Temples, Synagogues–closed
  • In Dubai — mass disinfection with the drones, traffic radars capturing curfew breakers, E-Pass to even step out of the house.
  • Industries and distilleries repurposed to manufacture Hand Sanitizers, Face Masks, and PPE
  • Force Majeure everywhere — too many contracts broken
  • Peak unemployment — increased automation, remote capable workforce
  • Government forced to spend on health care–and stockpile medical equipment
  • U.S. states bidding against each other for PPE and commandeering essential supplies of Germany and Canada
  • Empty NYC streets, quiet Times Square, deserted Sheikh Zayed Road in Dubai. And WA forwards of wildlife creeping into urban space!
  • Rise of xenophobia /racial scapegoating — Hindu versus Muslim in India, Asian Americans, and Jews in the USA. They call the pandemic a Chinese virus, China’s bio-weapon, 5G Hawaii banned
  • Front-line workers hailed from balconies yet they’re scared to go to their own homes
  • Pockets of purpose and joy, even in the midst of loss and pain — NGOs swing into action, Langar Seva/ public kitchens serving free food to all.

III — The narrative changes

Shutting down the entire world was an unprecedented step, a terra incognita into which the governments had walked in. Human life is an emotive issue, and that predicated the initial responses. Contrarian ‘Herd immunity’ assertions were more nuanced, and they clashed sharply with popular opinion — UK tried to go that route, but soon changed course. Democracies after all are meant to cater to public sentiments.

IV- We are all in different boats

Meanwhile, the pandemic was doing what it does best–growing, morphing, receding, spiking across the planet. And the world was responding to it in diverse ways.

  • Some want to or have to go back to work because they are running out of money. Others are willing to kill them for breaking the quarantine.
  • For those living alone, it’s desolation and heartache. For others, it is peace, rest, and quality time with the extended family, after a long time.
  • Some are discussing the treats for next weekend, others were concerned if there would be enough food for the weekend.
  • Some are spending 2–3 hours every day supporting their child with online schooling. Others are spending 2–3 hours per day helping their child with online schooling, on top of 10 hours work shift.
  • Some have experienced the near-death of a dear one, some have already lost someone, and some are not sure if their loved ones are going to make it. Others don’t believe it’s a huge deal.

This is a place where I post essays and random musings.