What will be the new normal?

We all know life may/may not be the same once all this is over. The world has come to a standstill (the only movement being people visiting grocery stores and hospitals. Dark.). You and I have been forced out of our gyms, swimming pools, workplaces, shopping sprees; forced to give up on our favorite party/hangout places, even our favorite coffee shops. All for the one thing invisible to naked eye. The one who must not be named.

Every time my mother and I chill at our new hangout place (read: the ever cluttered dining table) we talk about things we would need to be equipped when we start commuting to work again (almost 2 hours each way). I have suggested the following –

  1. We build a disinfectant tunnel in the staircase to disinfect every person and thing coming in and out of the house
  2. We wear a space suit to and from work to protect ourselves from the outside world

    From the way Aai was looking at me during this discussion I couldn’t say if she thought I was crazy or was considering my ideas.

On a different note, my father was courageous enough to visit D-mart one day. Never thought one would need ‘courage’ to visit a supermarket, did you?
Apparently, he had just missed the action. D-mart had opened the doors that day to a thousand eagerly waiting and angry shoppers. The D-mart authorities had to summon the police and ambulance to handle the stampede.

We have decided to shop online going forward – a big shift from roaming the aisles and judging every product you touch and see.

This made me think how my habits have changed/concerns one would have ever since the ‘one who must not be named’ started creating havoc.
1. I have never liked buying clothes online – despite having lived 10 ft away from Day One for quite some time. But buying clothes right now is important because –
(1) Most of my clothes are inappropriate to be worn at Visa. They’re very Seattle, Starbucks and NYC. Also, half of my wardrobe is in NYC.
(2) The material of the clothes is not suitable for Indian weather.
(3) The style is not acceptable/appropriate/suitable.
(4) Seattle summer clothes cannot be used in Indian summers and workplaces.
So, I ended up buying $300 worth stuff online. Of course, none of that got delivered because everything got locked down soon after I placed my order.

2. A visit to the bhajiwala was enough for me to not want to go again. There was no ‘social distancing’ anywhere. This made me think if we should buy frozen veggies instead. Hoarding would be the next option – buy enough to last at least for a couple weeks.

3. Visit to a (small sized) supermarket made me really furious. There was a long and socially-distanced queue to enter the supermarket (alright) but there was no social distancing inside! I bumped into 3 masked people.
What was the queue outside the supermarket for? Was it not to avoid the crowding inside? This made me wonder if kirana stores/online grocery deliveries would be better options.

4. Eating out is not an option (since everything is closed). I am skeptical about online food deliveries as well. Fomites have been a major contributor to the spread of pandemic. You never know who’s got it. You always hear about Delivery boys getting it – they’re so susceptible. You can never sanitize enough. Some of them claim ‘contactless deliveries’ but how contactless can it be?
Badly missing Pizzas and Pastas and everything else in between.

5. About commuting to work – most of us take multiple hours and several modes transport to reach work. I take an auto (3 to 5 passengers) – train (192928510 passengers) – auto (3 passengers) to work every day. The passenger count in bracket does not include people who I am in close contact with on train stations.
How am i supposed to do this going forward? HOW?!
I have a suggestion – maybe we can ‘fly’ to work like the Jetsons? Maybe we should seriously put our brainpower into developing a low-cost flying solution.

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Moviestore/REX/Shutterstock (1660125a) The Jetsons (Ani Film and Television FULL COPY: http://www.rexfeatures.com/nanolink/le7r

6. Social distancing – This concept is going to be tougher in high-density areas/countries. I cannot imagine how one would maintain social-distance at train stations where there is usually a long queue to climb on and off the bridge. How to maintain distance in local trains where you can’t differentiate if the sweat on your body is yours or someone else’s?

A few more thoughts –
How safe would throwing parties be? Would you require every attendee to upload their test results when they RSVP?

How safe would pubs/clubs/bars be? Will they check your temperature to determine whether or not you are ‘safe’ to enter their bar? Will you now be carded for temperature and age both?
If yes, forget bar-hopping till we have a vaccine.

How safe would sharing food/drinks/smoke be?

How safe would traveling be in the future? Most of us want to travel the world! How will that look like now? Would you still be open to back-packing and living in hostels across Europe? How would group tours be like?

Will you feel safe to go to group classes – yoga/crossfit/dance/etc? Would people still go to morning walks and laughter clubs post lock down?

How will the GenX learn any more? Will online classes be the way to go? Will schools reduce the number of students in a classroom and run shifts to accommodate everyone for offline classes? How will the kids have fun at school? What about schools in the rural areas that may not be equipped to go online?

How will the workplaces handle it? Most of us travel at least a couple hours exposing ourselves to every kind of virus and bacteria to reach work. How safe will be for other people to be around us? What would team lunches and happy hours look like now?

How safe would dating be? It involves “meeting” unknown people.

How will festivals look like? How does one celebrate Diwali or Ganeshotsav without family/extended family/friends?

What about big fat weddings? I am willing to give up on the auxiliary parties but what about the actual wedding – haldi, mehendi, wedding, reception?

All this and more. We are living in unprecedented times and must take equally unprecedented measures to fight this. It will take some time for us to determine our new normal post the pandemic. The way we live, eat, drink, breathe, love, date, pray, travel, play, have fun is all about to change.

There are far better things ahead than any we leave behind.

C.S.Lewis

Life as we know it is about to change. Something fun to tell our grand-kids, huh? More to come…

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