Blow out the old, ring in the new The new normal

Out the old, in the new. This is what the global pandemic has stipulated and what was once normal will no longer be so and how well a society adapts to the understanding of the new normal will largely depend on the understanding of what was so abnormal with the old normal. Respect the space of others. Don’t jostle. Don’t overcrowd a place. This is what can be inferred from the call of the World Health Organisation and which has become the mantra of every country, to maintain social distancing or physical distancing. A look at any city in India and in Imphal will testify where the understanding of the need to give others their space to move around and not push each other in a crowd comes in the priority list of the people. And so it is that refusal to give space to others is so prominent on the major roads of any city, including Imphal, with each motorist trying to inch his or her way forward without giving a thought to the others on the road and the lane dividing line. Such a scene has also gone to define train travel in India where it is a free for all with everyone trying to make his or her way forward without giving a thought for the others. The virus that causes COVID-19 is known to spread primarily through droplets, when an infected person sneezes, coughs or speaks. This again is a reminder to the people to  maintain certain etiquette even while speaking and brings back childhood manners taught to everyone, that is to cover one’s mouth while sneezing or coughing and not to shout into anyone’s ears or near anyone. The reason for making face mask compulsory in public should be understood behind this reality. In other words, COVID-19 has reminded everyone of the need to maintain civility and not to go sneezing and coughing around with no thoughts for others. This is what has made State Governments, including the Government to Manipur, to make spitting in public places a punishable offence now.
Spitting in public-an extremely dirty and irritating habit of some people including here in Manipur-more so when one consumes betel leaves and nut and chews tobacco but which has never been given much thought about. The new normal however promises to crackdown on spitting in public places and this should come as a welcome development to many. Maintain physical hygiene is another catchword to keep the virus at bay and suddenly hand washing has become a sort of a fashion statement with many now religiously following this directive. This falls perfectly in line with the hand washing campaign launched by the Narendra Modi Government in its first edition in power with the campaign taken to schools and school going children taught to wash their hands properly, long before coronavirus became a word in the lexicon of the common people. A testament that maintaining personal hygiene is not only about battling the coronavirus but is also about keeping oneself clean and healthy. Home delivery of goods is another new normal which hopefully will stay on. Such a trend can go a long way in ensuring that one does not need to venture out for every single purchase and this can have a positive impact on the overcrowded roads. How well a people adjust to the new normal will go a long way in determining where they stand in the days to come.