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The New Normal

My three year old daughter today asked me if I would take her to the mall. This would normally have been an ordinary request but these are extraordinary times. I had to say no. She bargained - What if she wore a mask? To escape the situation, I had to put the blame entirely on Narendra Modi. 😉

When I see someone coming towards me on the road
When would we go back to normal?
This is a question on everyone's mind. But how do you define normal? Let's examine this objectively.

The current lock down cannot last forever. Sooner or later it will have to be lifted for people to earn livelihoods. It may be lifted in phases but don't expect schools, malls, or places of social gathering to be opened up anytime soon. Any potential vaccine is still forever 12-18 months away. Even if a vaccine is invented quicker than that, production, distribution and finally vaccination itself would take years. People would keep falling sick due to COVID-19 and dying and there is nothing we can do to stop that.

Society would change too. In India, people have let their maids go. If someone is not physically disabled or desperate, they would not be hired back anytime soon. Be prepared to do the housework yourself for a long time.

Let's assume that schools, malls and offices are opened up an year down the line. People would still be wary to go there. Masks would become common sighting and social distancing would increase. The silver lining is that hopefully people would take their hygiene more seriously and this would reduce the spread not only of COVID-19 but other infectious diseases. There would definitely be lesser number of vehicles on the road as people would avoid unnecessary travel and that may lead to lesser pollution levels.

Use of paper currency was already in decline and this pandemic would only accelerate that trend. There would be increasing levels of remote communication and some IT work which cannot be done remotely from homes may shift back to its home country. For IT professionals, layoffs and pay cuts are definitely in the offing.

Masks, hand washing, soap, sanitizer, social distancing would become words used in common lingo. I am not an expert and this is not an exhaustive list. Still its safe to say that society is already changing in ways that cannot be undone.

So the next time someone asks you when can we go back to normal, tell them we already are in the new normal.


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