Gearing up for the new normal

There might be a light at the end of the endless tunnel. 


There is a possibility that we will slowly be released from the lockdown, if not in the next week, then at least by mid-month. As we venture back into a semblance of normal life and step out and look around us, what will we see? 


Will the little neighborhood plastics shop be open as usual, their multicolored buckets spilling onto the pavement? Or will they be closed forever, ruined by a month of zero transactions? The coconut water vendor, a lady with enormous skill with a hatchet--one could only wonder at the strength hidden in that wiry frame--how did she manage this last month? The mochi who repairs shoes and occasionally bags...will he still be there? He wasn’t from here. Was he one of those stranded migrants who couldn’t get a train or bus home? Who began walking so they would reach maybe sometime this week finally but with no money or food or resources. 

 

There is a possibility that it will all have been in vain and our forty-plus days in lockdown did nothing to change the course of the virus, that eventually, it will flow through the systems of as many people as it was going to all along, the pause only laying waste to the fragile livelihood of millions. Of course, we cannot say anything yet; perhaps it will be a great miracle and advancing summer or some other hypothesis will be proven and we will have stopped the virus in its tracks and watch it dwindle into nothing in our hot tropical sun. 


Regardless of all the possible outcomes, lives have been altered forever, and if you are reading this, then you are in the minority... you have a place to shelter and funds to feed and nourish you through this time. Juggling work and home has been difficult but starving has not been on the menu. If anything, your greatest threat may have been boredom and an inability to get a good work out without the gym. 


Today of all days, May 1st is a day to remember those who labor, whether its construction workers or factory workers or vendors and how they are a part of our lives. The end of lockdown could just mean for many, the end of the one guaranteed meal from an NGO that they were getting. Now people must return to an even greater struggle to survive; rebuilding a livelihood with less than they had. Taking care of fellow citizens is the need of the hour. Giving to organizations and to our own circle is crucial. There are the sweepers and cleaners and domestic workers who will need food security and support. 


This is not a charity. It is about saving the complex and layered ecosystems that make for vibrant cities. As we look for familiar faces in our extended community and find them missing, let sadness turn to action. Let us each be there for someone else and assist them through this time, and doing so perhaps we can all find a way to recover together. 

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