From WW3 threats to Juice WRLD's posthumous album, a lot has happened in 2020. But, without a doubt, the major "event" of the year has been the worldwide quarantine. Quarantine has become the topic that unites every magazine from Vogue to the Wall Street Journal. There's a very good reason for it. As much as we like to joke about it, it truly has changed not only our lives but also the world itself. We feel its presence everywhere. Want to go to your favourite restaurant? Sorry, they're closed. Fine, then how about a trip to the beach? You can't. Why? Because if you do, then you'll deliberately put yourself at risk of inhaling something thinner than your hair that can ruin your life. Yes, I really did look up for the diameter of the virus and human hair for the sake of this post.
I live in a secluded, guarded and lush area of a big city so I'm used to seeing more trees and cute bushes than people on the streets near where I live. But, when I go outside, I expect to see at least hundreds of people no matter where I go. Mumbai is loud, vibrant, and bold. So, if you would've told me two years ago that the number of people on Marine Drive, one of the most crowded and popular spots in Mumbai, would be less than one hundred, I would not have believed you. But now, that is the world we live in.
I took this picture on the 6th of March, 2020. I remember the day so vividly because my tenth-grade exams had just gotten over and me and my friends had visited South Bombay to unwind. This is what a city looks like - it's bright and energetic. It almost has life. You can practically hear the honks of cars and the commotion of people. Me and my friends added to that commotion. The dark sky didn't stop the lives of those beneath it. We were carefree. No one cared if you wore a mask or stood six feet apart. In fact, you might've been ridiculed if you wore a mask. But, things took a turn very quickly.
Same city, same place (another side of it) but just three months later. You read that right, three months. The differences are hard to miss. Right off the bat (no pun intended), you'll notice how omnipresent masks and social distancing have become. The number of COVID cases in India surged faster than we could ever have expected. The number of cases in March was close to 2,000. In June, the number was 20,000 - ten times the number of cases in March. As of today (15th September, 2020), the total number of cases in India is 4.66 million. An insane increase.
It's hard to accept that the picture on the left is Mumbai. Where are the vendors that constantly bugged me and my friends in March? Where are the large gatherings of people? Gone. All gone. Our cities are a ghost of what they used to be. It truly is a weird time to live through. And it's not just Mumbai that has been affected. Everywhere from Los Angeles to Sydney is going through something similar. The best we can do is accept our new normal, stay inside and stay strong.
As a student, I can't talk about quarantine and not discuss online school. I was never enthusiastic about school but I was excited about going to a new school. Clearly, my excitement didn't last long. I can't believe I'm saying this but I miss being in a physical classroom. I miss exploring the school. I miss the chaos of school. You can't even play any sport with your classmates anymore. Virtual school is definitely much more comfortable, in a way, but it has its pros and cons. For eg, if you keep your phone near you, it is more than easy to get distracted by Instagram or other apps during online school. This definitely would not happen during physical school. If you don't have strong time-management skills, you might start slacking off and this will affect your grades. These are just a few examples of their benefits and drawbacks.
Like I said before, this truly is a weird time to be living in. However, one thing everyone needs to accept is that the end of 2020 will probably not mean the end of quarantine. We might be stuck at home for more moths than we imagine. Make the best of the time we've been giving. This is the time you should binge the show you've always wanted to watch (when you're free), finish the book you never found the time for, video call your friends, make your dream playlist, etc. Just don't be too unproductive. Maybe even start working out. Come out of quarantine as a better person. Have hope, support doctors, wear a mask and just know that when we're out of this situation, we'll have the most fun we've ever had.
-by Rayansh Singh