Monday, April 22, 2024

Travel Tale: Wedding During Covid

Feeling As If We Were Living in Pseudo Reality

After Covid-19 second wave ended not long ago it was more than a year after the pandemic outbreak first case was reported and the outbreak wave continued from city to city and country to country. Within weeks all countries one by one started implementing complete lockdowns as soon as the World Health Organization gave us the warning to save and plan ahead for the outbreak.

Immediately all public places were closed and almost all places where we could think of moving with our families and friends to have social activities came to halt. No more family, friend’s get togethers, no places to go outside and eat like we used to do before the pandemic, all public transport were shut down immediately, all airports, all bus stations and railway stations were closed during this period for all the general public.

We were not able to travel intercity or intracity. No one was able to commute or use any public transport for any reason other than emergency visits to hospitals. The hospitals were the only place to go and due to fear, no one even dared to visit hospitals as the government gave clear instructions to observe severe SOP’s for covid-19 all positive patients were kept in isolation ward and no one was allowed to enter and meet the patient.

We all bought groceries two to three months ahead, preparing ourselves to remain inside our houses for at least three months. We all saw the outbreak through our television as news was coming in and the situation was getting worse. A time came when all shops were closed due to lock down and after 2 weeks few shops opened for groceries and medicine only all other businesses were closed.

Everyone knew we had to stay at home at all times as Masjids were also in lockdown and it took more than a year when the government decided to bring in smart lockdown and there was a sense of relief that everyone felt after more than a year sitting at home.

We did not anticipate nor thought of meeting our closest of the relatives in this fear that we may be among the carriers of the virus and we may spread it to others. The electronic media was creating panic and fear among the nation and we all were looking at news channels to see what is happening every second around as we had only one source, the news channel to look outside our premises or make a call to check if everything is ok to our closest relatives.

Once the lockdown was removed after a long year of isolation the government also did allow people to visit parks, masjid and opened a few big marriage halls who got approval by the government to have function based on the SOPs adherence and inviting few numbers of people with social distancing in sitting and eating areas of the hall.

It was the first time after almost one and a half year of the pandemic outbreak we were entering into any public place to celebrate a family function. I had this opportunity to go out with my parents and attend my first cousin’s marriage in a big event hall. I saw my cousin after one and a half years although it’s unfortunate, but very much true. The groom and bride were sitting on the stage at the other end of the hall all alone with a very few close family members moving around him wearing masks and they were not coming close to any of the guests to meet and greet instead waving their hands to show their respect and honor.

No family member was coming close to each other, everyone was looking strangely at each other with sorrow, our heartfelt sorry for each other and we all were behaving like we were strangers sitting at one place. A feeling of guilt was felt in everyone’s heart as no one was coming close to each other to shake hands or give warm hugs, the strangest feeling ever encountered in a family function celebration for the first time ever.

The pandemic gave all of us a feeling as if we were living in pseudo reality. Everyone was wearing a mask and was trying to sit in a place where fewer people were sitting together. There was no one standing at the entrance door except two to three people who were saying salaam and were trying to show directions to respectable guests and were requesting them to remain on their seats and must not move around.

Normally close friends and people of the same gender sit together to have a chit-chat but unfortunately it was not happening.

There was a two-seater sofa on the stage for the couple to sit and two separate chairs on each side at least 5 to 6 feet apart were placed on the stage. As the movie guy was moving around only the close family of the bride and groom came to the stage and were allowed to sit with the couples for a picture shoot. No one else was asked to come and take pictures with the groom and bride as it happens in normal marriage functions.

All the guests who were present in the hall were wearing masks and were seated ten feet apart from each other and no one was willing to come and meet other members of the family as it happens in any normal marriage function.

It was a new normal created for us and we were trying to accept and absorb the new reality as it was not desirable but we were trying to embrace it with courage. Everyone was trying to climatize with the new phenomena.  When it was time to serve the dinner, every individual was having a plate and cutlery set with glass in front of his table and we were asked one by one to come over and reach out for a table where all dishes were placed in a row and we were not supposed to touch anything on the table but all we could do was asking a gentleman standing next to the table to serve us the food that we would like to eat.

He was wearing a mask and white gloves and was putting selected food for us right into our plates. The objective was not to touch any serving spoon and every one should step away and must not come close due to social distancing SOP’s that were observed due to covid-19 reaching at its peak. The mood of the function reflected as if we are caught up in a situation where we all are helpless and yet we have to continue our lives and family events no matter how worse things get but eventually life will continue with new behavior changes in us and new social distancing practices will eventually become part of our cultural norms and society as we move along. This new reality was helping us become better human beings as we were trying to learn from it and were trying to change our behaviors towards each other.

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Category: Travel

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