I think about restaurants more than I ever thought possible. This came as a surprise to me as I have little interest in food, and often think of it as a chore that must be tackled so that I can move on with the business of life. I thought a lot about how casually I considered lunch or dinner dates with family and friends. We’d put a message on WhatsApp, set a date and time, choose a restaurant or cuisine, and just come over for a nice evening. The act of gathering for food was, like much, done by a virus that showed us how little our desires matter in the larger scheme of things.
It’s been a long time since I thought about meeting a friend for lunch or dinner. There is opening time to consider, and vaccination, coupled with the potential for congestion. Where once a crowded room could be unintentionally taken as a sign that there was something good about the place, now the presence of many people around inspires fear and anxiety. How have things changed.
What we did in the days before COVID-19 seems strange and disturbing by comparison now. The idea of shopping, for example, with its attendant tasks of picking up things and putting them back on the shelves without thinking. Till the first lockdown, I remember using hand sanitizer after touching doorknobs and packages. I imagine what it’s like to stand in line at cashier counters, without worrying about the distance between my front and back. I smile with sadness at how many of us now react to the presence of a bystander who coughs. When I choose apps for scrolling through groceries on my smartphone, I am amazed that the millions of people who were once employed in supermarkets. What are they doing to make up for the staggering loss of their income?
Some businessmen believe that the office as we know it may never be the same again. I have mixed feelings about it, too, because while I remember and despise the soul-crushing act of commuting to and from the workplace, I also know how much interaction with peers means for a lot of people. may mean. I know it would have eased the loneliness of millions and served as an escape route to homes that are not as normal or comfortable as we think. Some of us may go back to conference rooms and office pantries in the coming months, but I hope we take back a certain appreciation for those tired rooms, too.
There is no point in talking about flying, as it was an exhausting experience long before the pandemic struck. I assumed it couldn’t possibly get worse, until I tried to fly during a break in the midst of lockdown and realized it could.
I recently overheard a conversation between a friend and her 11-year-old, in which the girl asked her father if things would be like this from now on. That meant life behind a mask, away from school, studying alone in front of a laptop. It was a question that broke my heart as I thought back to my childhood and how liberating it seemed by comparison. His father reassured him that things would soon change, but I don’t know how confident he was. When you’re 11, and a quarter of your life is spent in a state of panic over which you have no control, it’s natural to assume that your view of the world will be different from everyone else’s. I hope we also think about those childhoods that have been stolen. I hope that in the months and years to come this will make us better and more patient with the children we come into contact with.
History teaches us that memories are short, and we quickly forget periods of trauma in need of comfort and regularity. A part of me expects that to happen though. I hope we learn from the past two years and see what happens next with a mixture of gratitude and empathy. It is only when we stop taking the act of living for granted that we can appreciate everyone who comes to our class. It is only by giving the importance to the small things in our life that we can appreciate it to the fullest. That’s what I intend to try and do in this coming year.
When she doesn’t boast about all things Mumbai, Lindsay Pereira can almost be cute. He @lindsaypereira . tweeted on
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The views expressed in this column are those of the individual and do not represent the views of the paper