As they scroll through Photos in search of some image or the other the girls often berate me for the number of photos that I appear to have taken of Marine Drive, because it's there from every angle and in every season and at almost every time of day, but preferably early morning or dusk. This is the last photo that I took of Marine Drive, before the lockdown was imposed and we were confined to our homes, Marine Drive and its ability to attract crowds being especially off limits. Work had been going on to shift the concrete tripods out to sea and make way for the new coastal road. I'm going to cherish this photo, as I will cherish the one that I will take, early in the morning, before I will go for a run, after the lockdown has been lifted.
It was my birthday yesterday and I don't think I imagined the particular intensity in the messages and well wishes that rolled in from different parts of the world as they went beyond the customary 'happy birthday' to wish me and my family but by extension also each other health and safety and well-being. These were the friends with whom I had been to ISA in Amsterdam or to university in Groningen or with whom I had worked at KLM and Maersk, as well some of my teachers, including my English teacher who attempted to teach me the frugality of word choice as he hacked away with his red and later green pen at my overgrown bushes of colorful but otherwise superfluous words. Only to join me in falling in love with Rushdie's Midnight's Children, a forest, a Sunderbans of colorful language if ever there was one. This was but one of many communities worldwide checking in with each other to see if we are well.
Having been given almost every tool imaginable over the past ten years through which to voice our opinion we're suddenly realizing how powerless we truly are. The state has come down to ban flights and trucks and trains and cars and we the opinionated are realizing our place in history, of having to search for assurance, rightly or wrongly, in the words of our political leaders. Children are stuck in far away places but no amount of tweeting will get flights instated.
Some supporters of the French President, always a step ahead of the rest of us, in thought if not in action, have apparently launched a Jour d'Apres (the day after) website, but the end of this pandemic we know won't be a sudden affair, there won't be a V - Day celebration, no sailor kissing a young lass on the streets of New York. On the contrary, it will be a tepid, hesitant and tenuous re-emergence as if after a long winter, eyes blinking against the sunlight, with distant waves and namaste's from across the street.
Will we return to consumption with a vengeance, unleashing our pent - up demand or will some of what we have been forced to not do stick with us? Will we feel in any way embarrassed by what we used to convince ourselves we needed to buy and in some way voluntarily extend these frugal times? I don't know.
What I do know, with absolute certainty, is that within hours, not days, of the Government of India lifting the free movement of vehicles on the streets of Mumbai drivers will be back to horning at each other, urging each other to start driving even before the light turns green, back to 'beep beep yeah!' with a vengeance. And maybe for a brief moment that horning and beeping will be an assurance that part of life at least has returned to normal.
Btw, the banner photo was taken from our holiday home outside of San Gimignano at 6.20 am. What light! It lasted all of five minutes.