“Death, be not proud, we fear none,” Delhi’ites seem to be saying these days. Despite a million advisories to stay indoors as far as possible, residents of the national capital turn out on streets in hordes every morning. Diwali, its pre- and postfestivals are over. Still, the city’s popular markets wear a “mela” look.
People are rubbing shoulders, hopping shops and bargaining prices everywhere. So what, if a hundred people are dying of Covid-19 in the city every day and thousands are getting infected. There is no apparent fear, though there is awareness. People know the danger and talk about it. But they cannot stop themselves from venturing out. Delhi’ites seem convinced there is more to their city, than they have discovered yet. It’s Karol Bagh one day, and Sarojini Market another day.
Lajpat Nagar, Chandni Chowk and Sadar Bazar get their turns too. Then there are local and weekly markets, calling customers with sweet urgings, offering packed dry fruits, laddus or soan papdi, and much more. Readymades are available on charpoys. Vendors say they need to make up for the lockdown days.
The customers give similar reasons. It is, as if, old friends are meeting after an unwanted break-up.
Both know each other well, yet they pretend they need more time. Delhi’ites keep their masks on, taking them off occasionally.
They know the fine is up four times, from Rs 500 to Rs 2000, for not wearing the mask properly, or for not maintaining a physical distance of six feet from others. When caught violating the rule, they first argue, and then pay up.
It is a city rediscovering itself and learning again what is good or bad. The marriage season has arrived. It is Covid vs Cupid now. That gives a lot of people many reasons to venture outdoors.
Gifts have to be bought and visits have to be made. So what, if the total number of guests at a marriage function cannot exceed 50. Haryana and Uttar Pradesh have announced random Covid checks of people arriving from Delhi, for whatever reason, wedding functions included. This could deter some people and courier services can make a killing, delivering gifts and greetings, on behalf of guests not daring to go out.
Covid is accepted as part of life, though it remains life-threatening.
Troubled officials had ordered house to-house surveys in the worst Covid-affected localities. They wanted to check how the Covid patients, advised to live in isolation, were behaving.
The initial findings were shocking.
While some had gone out of homes to buy milk, others were out on their morning stroll. All of them believed they posed no threat to others. No wonder, the Aarogya Setu app of many often showed they had brushed past individuals who were in the Covid19 “high-risk” category! The city’s health infrastructure is under greater stress. But Delhi’ites seem to be competing with themselves in going about their life in public.
The grimmer a picture is painted by health statisticians every evening, the greater urgency one sees on the streets. This is despite an early onset of winter, and continuing reports of polluted air.
The Metro is often fully occupied, minus the empty seats.
The imposition of a stricter regime of restrictions cannot be ruled out if people do not realise how they are supposed to conduct themselves under Covid-19 conditions.