Of masks and freedom…

I saw a lot of faces staring at me as I walked into the DIFC today.

Not quite as delusional to think that this was due to my good looks, I started to wonder – was it my hair? A spot I missed while shaving? A tear in my shirt?…

Ah…my mask. I didn’t have it on.

As I parked the car a couple of minutes earlier, I didn’t quite think of putting on my mask – I just locked the car and started walking, like we all had been doing pre-March 2020.

That almost seems like a different world now, doesn’t it? One used to go to office (well, many still do, but I don’t), have meetings, weekend shopping and well, the most noticeable difference – we didn’t wear masks.

And I don’t think that one and a half years down the road, we have still got used to it.

So much so, that the odd time when you forget it in public, it almost feels like you are free again. The wind on your face, you can breathe normally again, and it just feels good.

But reality is different. We are two doses in, and a lot of time away from this pandemic’s end. Delta, Theta, Lambda and god knows how many variants before we can go back to how it was – IF we can ever go back to how it was.

And so how ever free you want to feel, you also have to be responsible. Masks are inconvenient, but can also potentially save lives, including your own.

People in Paris, New York and many other cities however, beg to differ. They have got tired of it. I saw the test match being played at Lords to quite thick crowds, people sitting next to each other, with hardly anyone wearing a mask. Israel, with the highest vaccination rates in the world, faces an upsurge in cases. New Zealand shuts down because of just one case.

Clearly, we are nowhere close to consensus on what works and what doesn’t. Vaccine fatigue, pandemic fatigue, stay-at-home fatigue, and general fatigue.

But do not worry. In the scheme of things, this too will pass. Our attention spans have become so short that time has ended up seeming elongated – but this too shall pass. Don’t give up just yet. It’s just a mask. People have paid, and are paying, a much much higher price for freedom. Afghanistan – need I say more?

Mask up. Sanitise hands. Simple precautions. And stay safe.

Also, keep smiling. So what if it is though your mask?