Pause

Abstract Mar 24, 2020

Sundays have this innate ability to make any ordinary lunch seem heavier than usual, and any activity lazier than every other activity. Sundays are a paradox to me. A paradox because, the only day which is peaceful and pleasant enough to get work done, we keep that day aside so that we can break apart from the handcuffs tied to us by the competitive world, whilst being burdened by the society expectations. Sundays are the only days which have no ‘pre-decided norms’ or ‘pre-decided rules’ like other days. Even Saturday has them but not Sunday. You see people functioning like a well coded program on weekdays, and see them unwind on a Sunday (in their own manner) like a child during summer holidays.

But Sunday, March 22, 2020 was not like other Sundays. Not for us Mumbaikars
at least. People usually hit the ‘pause button’ on their contemporary lives on Sundays, but this time it was the city that needed the ‘pause button’. This city has been like a mountain to the Indian economy, metaphorically of-course, unshakeable. Mumbai has always been Jackie Chan; it has always come back stronger from every injury it has undergone, thereby making itself stronger for the injuries to follow. The island city has undergone the 1944 explosion, the 1947 Ramdas Ship disaster, the Hindu-Muslim riots, the 1994 Gowari stampede, multiple droughts, earthquakes, not to forget the bombings and terrorist attacks! The list is certainly long, but not long enough that it could put the ‘city that never sleeps’, to sleep.


Every time something disastrous or destructive happened, the city has been resilient in absorbing the damage and coming back stronger, more like Graeme Smith batting for South Africa with a damaged finger, or Anil Kumble bowling with a broken jaw, or Dhoni continuing to bat in the 2011 World Cup Final even though in tremendous pain. The city stood up for itself, because that was the need of the hour. 2008 was probably one time everyone thought the city would finally give up, courtesy of the stock market crash followed by the terrorist attacks. But no, it didn’t. They attacked us on Wednesday, crumpled our economy on Friday. But we eliminated them on Saturday, and came back to work on Monday. But this time it is different. It is different because this time it is nature who has decided to wreak havoc, and when nature does that, not even Rajnikanth can save us. Early signs of the Corona virus date back to November 2019. As shocking as it may sounds, it was preventable just like every other mishap, but the age old habit of being negligent and ignorant led us to this day.

It was the first month of 2020 and while China and other countries were suffering
to deal with the virus, India had just one ‘reported’ case. Fast forward to March 22,
2020 and the city of Mumbai is under a lockdown. The city that never sleeps has been tucked in for a minimum of 14 hours. The public transport system has been shut down.

Dabbawaalas have suspended their services.
Offices, schools, colleges, restaurants, pubs, cafes, malls, theatres, parks, gardens,
playgrounds, swimming pools, amusement parks, every damn thing bears the
‘CLOSED’ sign.
The famed Mumbai local, has been shut down. WHEN WAS THE LAST
TIME MUMBAI ENTIRELY CLOSED DOWN ITS LIFELINE?
Today, the people of Mumbai have definitely woken up to a city that has gone to
sleep, for the first time probably.


The pause button has been clicked.


And believe it or not, the lockdown is working. The ‘stay-at-home orders’ are working. The clear skies, better AQI, low pollution and emission levels and clean and green areas are testimony to the fact that if we want, we can battle even a damn pandemic.

But.
Why should we, the people of the city, fight our own way through a pandemic?
Because that is what we have always done.
We have fought our own battles and have won them, because we have jobs to go
to, and deadlines to cater to, and a family to look after.
And most importantly,
As Vir Das rightly said in his latest special ‘For India’,
“It’s Mumbai. We have to eat tomorrow so let’s get back to work. You can’t fck
with Mumbai, because we’re already pre-fcked to begin with!"

– Samarth Oza

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