About three weeks ago the editor of this publication commented that I seemed to be running out of ideas to write about. Like many writers, I suffer occasionally from ‘writer’s block’ but this ‘running out of ideas’ is more than that. It is a reflection of the state of the world where on the one hand, politicians and health experts are struggling not to ‘run out of ideas’ as how best to tackle COVID-19 and on the other, the rest of us are struggling to find ideas to fill our time at home. Or, for those who have returned to work, find ways to ensure that the daily commute does not include bringing the virus back home.
For those of us who are following the rules, or the rules of common-sense, there is no going for nights out or afternoon parties. No art gallery openings; no launching of new products; no plays/concerts/films to review. So yes, I am running out of ideas. The world too has run out of non-essential practises and events such as the International Edinburgh Festival, Oktoberfest in Munich, and even reality TV. I am merely a reflection of that. Having already written* about what you and your kids can do during lockdown, where you can buy food on-line, what recipes you can create with those same home-delivered products, and letting you know what hoteliers believe the short and long term scenario will be (and don’t get me started on that 2020 dead horse named tourism!), it is indeed hard to come up with new topics. New topics when my whole world for the past five months has been basically two rooms and a screen! As I am sure yours has been too.
I was in much dismay to see that when Nepal opened up a couple of weeks ago, all caution was thrown to the wind. I watched dumbfounded, as people I know headed to bars in and around Thamel and participated in traditional festivals, which involved hundreds of people. I can understand the peer pressure to go out, but cannot understand the lack of sense of civic responsibility that enables people to participate in events without any attempt to physically distance or even wear a mask. Ah the mask! This is a country, particularly in Kathmandu, where we wear a mask a great deal of the time to protect ourselves from pollution. Is it because we can see and feel pollution or is it that no one is telling us to wear a mask against that filthy smog that we feel we can don that piece of fabric to protect ourselves? Yet now we seem unable to wear the same mask to protect both ourselves and others. The whole mask debate around the world bewilders me completely. Such a simple thing, with such a huge impact on our personal health and the health of our family and community.
Leaving the anti-maskers aside, because you might as well tell me there are purple people living on the moon – it makes that much sense to me – and leaving aside the whole political and medical side to COVID-19 - because I am not qualified to voice an opinion publicly – there is very little left to talk/write about!
So I sit here, behind my screen, watching otherwise quite sensible people act like lemmings jumping off the metaphorical cliff. Even countries like my own, Scotland, where there is a strong (female) leader in charge and a new set of rules to follow almost weekly in the loosening and opening up of the country, the lemmings just keep on racing towards the cliff top. I want to scream and shout and punch quite a number of these careless lemmings but then I also have a civic responsibility not to cause physical harm.
Yes indeed the editor is right, it is getting pretty hard to remain positive and write like before, as nothing is like it was before. And after five months of staring at four walls, it has finally dawned on me that nothing will ever be the same again.