|Picture Source: Myalpore Times 04-Jan-2021|
It is no secret that the world has been experiencing an unprecedented pandemic (atleast for this generation of people) over the last nine months. Stifled literally with mask and getting claustrophobic staying indoors, tempers running high with all doing everything from home- be it school classes of kids or concall of professionals or fitness freaks and medically expected denied a walking or jogging , homemakers pitching in more for the barred servants, there seemed to be an endless war against the common man for the majority of 2020. Some saving grace were online and eCommerce transactions which enabled people to have things delivered at doorsteps. That the sanitizing of these delivered items took more time than the trek to the mall itself is a different matter.
After such a relentless effort of the authorities to keep the people indoors, there appeared a silver streak on the horizon, particularly in some states like Tamilnadu where the numbers are showing a steady and gradual decline to the effect that it is falling below those of June and July , when the pandemic was at its peak at this place.
With such numbers and also the state relaxing some lockdown restrictions, when people were about to heave a sigh of relief came the bolt from London about the mutated version which appears to be on all its fours in terms of spread. There is an arms length list of places across the globe which have already been impacted by this and there is information that it is already in India too.
Bill Gates said few months back that we may have to live with Covid for atleast another year or so and in his recent notes has reemphasized the same and also underlined the need for continued usage of masks and adherence to physical distancing as a greater necessity ( https://www.gatesnotes.com/About-Bill-Gates/Year-in-Review-2020?WT.mc_id=20201231100000_YIR2020_BG-LI_&WT.tsrc=BGLI ), He says " . . Still there are two main reasons to be hopeful. One is that masks, social distancing, and other interventions can slow the spread of the virus and save lives . . . " , and adds that " Unfortunately, we are not out of the woods quite yet. Computer models suggest that the pandemic could get even worse over the next month or so...." .
With such uncertain developments and scary scenario it is a matter of grave concern and irritation that people have started taking things for granted and are freaking out saying 'the worst is over'.
The neighboring Pondicherry Government, despite objections by the Governor, threw open its beaches and invited people to celebrate the New Year in a 'controlled manner staying within the Covid stipulations' (whatever it means). It only invited more revelers from places like Chennai, where the authorities wisely chose to close even the beaches, a normally crowded place during new year revelry.
Even before people could come to grasp with the debatable decision of the neighbor, with the state throwing open places of worship and with the festivals around, people are in an unfettered frenzy in coming out of their forced confinements. While the freedom to freak out is somewhat understandable, people's indiscretion in throwing things to caution is certainly self deprecating if not suicidal.
In the New Year celebrations at Pondicherry, one could see in TV reports, police even resorting to mild lathi charge to disperse some sections of unruly crowd.
In some political meetings shown in Television, many could be seen with masks lowered and some with no masks at all with the distancing nowhere seen !! On the dais of some political meetings and also during press briefings, people could be seen jostling to show their face to camera and no wonder the flight of pandemic has slowed due to such negligence resulting in some unfortunate and regrettable loss of valuable lives too. The leaders at such meetings failed where they could have easily set themselves as models by wearing masks and asking their cadres to keep the distance.
At funerals and religious places, people could be seen allowing their emotions to take over as was evidenced at the funeral of some high profile and popular personalities.
It is shocking to see the popular bhajan groups of Margazhi turning a blind eye to the still lurking pandemic. Mylapore mada streets are mostly wide enough for people to spread out but sadly this has not been done and many are seen without masks. Shockingly, there are more senior citizens in such groups and with their age it is expected that better sense will prevail, which was belied!
On a bhajan telecast on the last day of the year which went on till the crack of New Year, the frenzied crowd easily numbering few hundreds, not a soul was wearing mask and were all seated next to the other in a closed hall.
It was very sad to see emotion and misplaced belief taking over realities and was wondering whether people who were enjoying their freedom were aware of the consequences, should there be an unfortunate infection - the extent of suffering , personal pains , impact on the family, financial impact and potential loss of life !
The most questionable indiscretion seem to be 'travel for pleasure' during this period. I wonder how the senior citizens embark on tours where there is every possibility of getting contacted with undesirable contacts. Can't we think for a moment about the potential risks from the vehicles of the tour, water and other consumables, cleanliness of the places of stay, food served there, environment at the places of visit and the close proximity of passengers in the touring vehicle. With due respects, I feel it would be wise not to embark on such thoughtless deeds, until we are completely rid of this menace. Happened to see few interviews and videos of people affected by Corona and I am convinced that it is not worth taking such foolhardy steps in the larger interest of everyone.
Instead of shifting the blame on the tour organizers, who have to take care of their business interests, it is wiser to keep in mind what the visitors to malls did ; Even after the gates were thrown open, they initially chose to keep the safety prioritized over pleasure and stayed away from visiting them instead of rushing in.
All these acts could be indulged in but with better and greater care and lesser speed, in the individual's own interest.
When Covid was in other countries in the late 2019, we did it not take it seriously and assumed that we will not be hit. What resulted thereafter, need not be elaborated.
Similarly, UK is now reeling under the impact of the new variant and the latest update is their Prime Minister insisting on people staying at home . It is for the individuals to take the call whether to fall for on such lures of carrots dangled more for business and other compulsions !
Of course, I also heard from my Doctor friend how some of his senior patients got bitten by the Covid bug despite their not moving out of their houses for over six months.
Well then, that is the choice between fate (if you believe in it) and misplaced bravado, the individual has to take the call. Stay safe . . . . .