Among numbers, 2020 is now a four-letter word. It will go down history as the year when a virus sent the whole world scurrying indoors and online, and that was the best possible scenario. With walls and Wi-Fi for company in the New Normal, it’s no wonder that most chose Wi-Fi. Screens became our workspace, our after-hours, our dating field and our me-time. Almost everyone latched on to a web series and passionately bonded with those who watched it and disdained those who didn’t.
Which brings us to Grey’s Anatomy, the medical drama that’s something of a cultural phenomenon. In its 17th season, its storyline took the Covid bull by the horns and promptly infected its titular character, Dr Meredith Grey, with the virus. Mer has Covid, and has it bad, and thanks to an OTT platform, GA fans in India get to watch her and worry about her almost at the same time the US does. Mer is so ill that she hallucinates about meeting her dead husband Derek (still deliciously hunky) and her dead friend George (still the kindest).
Like Mer, a lot of us hallucinate about meeting those we’ve loved and lost. Here’s a list of what we’d like most from Pre-New Normal to revisit us, even if only in our dreams.
A café, a pub, a movie, a campus fest, random window-shopping, a house party, a drive to feel the breeze on your face. Yes, JLT. Just like that. Now, every time one leaves the house, it’s like going to war. The virus is out there, is your battle gear ready? Mask, sanitiser, face shield? Are our streets wide enough for social distancing? Is going out absolutely necessary? It’s easier to curl up on the couch and fiddle with the phone.
Hugs and backslaps
Remember the couch of F.R.I.E.N.D.S.? It now belongs to a dinosaur museum. Catching up with friends for real is what keeps relationships growing. Giggles and pokes and asides are funnier, hugs and backslaps and fist bumps more comforting. Emotions in 3-D. Meeting friends on screens is just that. A flat experience.
Dressing up for a special night out, a date, a girls’ night out, an anniversary. That bubbling excitement, deciding what to wear, where to go, what to eat, how to make the occasion memorable? Well, you still can do all that. In your dreams.
Online learners, do you meet your campus in your dreams? Everyone does, probably. Every institute of learning has a character, a vibe, created year upon year by the campus crowd. Hard to imagine that a virus snatched the campus from us.
Work-from-home-ers, anyone sniffing nostalgically about office water-cooler gossip? Offices have burrowed inside laptops and may stay that way even after the vaccine rescues us from this nightmare. But coming to work worked for centuries. Team members learnt faster from each other, brainstorming was spontaneous, trust instinctive and lifelong work friends were formed. The office building and employees, together, were a cohesive system, culture and brand.
Noses, lips, chins
Feel a pang for the city streets that would be a sea of faces? Masks rule now. Some masks may have even gone couture, but noses, lips, cheeks, chins and jaws are infinitely better looking. We’ve forgotten faces, we remember people’s air-brushed selfies.