July 20, 2021: The sounds of the night keep me awake

July 20, 2021: The sounds of the night keep me awake. I was planning on going to bed. It had been a long and busy day. With the pandemic really retreated into the back of the collective consciousness and the mask, albeit used incorrectly, has become standard wear for most people, other things are happening. Even the privately provided, a little expensive, vaccines are available. I was with a person who received the vaccine at a private clinic in the morning and it took all of a coffee time. In and out. Done. With this, other activities are becoming possible, and there is a sense that we can perhaps plan for a future where things will go on with the disease also being a part of everyday life. This is what everyone seems to believe. As long as it is manageable it is tolerable. As long as we accept there will be deaths, like other diseases we can live with it. It seems like a combination of preventive behavior such as masking, management of the sick with medicines, and acceptance that this is a killer disease will make this possible to live with. There are other diseases like that, and we have learnt to live with those. And we shall with this as well. Perhaps we will attenuate our behavior a little bit knowing that this can kill – randomly. I sense this notion is setting into the minds of the people in the city. So, we met today, and planned. A movie. Talented people, and as we discussed the timeline and the plans, the producer said that this will go on with or without the pandemic. They were already making plans on how to do it in a changed World where movie theaters may become extinct because we do not need to be at that place to be entertained. Sitting with a cousin of mine, the same sentiment seems to come through. We can live with this. We really do not need a mall or a grocery store because we have thousands of people on two-wheelers crisscrossing the city at breakneck speed bringing to you whatever you need. As I was driving down VIP Road, I sensed the urgency of these people, professional couriers on Royal Enfield, who pass you on both sides, millimeters between us, and they serve the new World. Respect them. They are your lifeline. Keeps us able to live in a changed place. Thus it turned out to be a busy day. Conversations, face to face, in the Club, then back in the virtual – more people to talk to, things to do and seeing that people are actually planning the hybrid life that many seem to have embraced here. In other places, the delusion of “independence” from the disease is rapidly unraveling. New signs are needed, now again declaring that masks are needed and not living in the illusion that things will come back to normal. The delusion is again shattering lives, people who were ready to get started again are now held back. It might have been better to accept that change is here and plan with that change in sight. Like we were doing today, not fall into the trap of arrogance and “come back” as if nothing had happened in the last 18 months. It was with all this that I sat down on the verandah, late at night, and listened to the sounds of the night. There was a heated argument in the park where unseen faces were debating identity politics in my state. At 11 pm. This is what makes my city what it is. Debate, conversations, protests, the sounds of the night and I sat there and listened, almost felt like joining the conversation, and as I listened I realized that the night is still young and the morning after the pandemic is yet to come. As Van Morrison said, “I'm looking for a brand new day/In the dark night of the soul.”

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