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Does it have to be like this?!

May 14,2020 - Last updated at May 14,2020

Undeniably, the lockdown has had its toll on many people.

In particular, individuals who are outgoing and sociable by nature found it intolerable to be forced to stay indoors for days and weeks on end.

The claustrophobia and the fears emanating from dealing with an unknown, unpredictable virus added to a lot of peoples’ loneliness and agony.

And there are, of course, the thousands who were forced to stop working and worry about when and if they will be able to go back to work, especially those who are owners or employees of vulnerable private businesses.

The uncertainty about the future is a worry for all.

And there are numerous other situations on the downside of COVID-19.

But there are many on the positive side as well.

For some, it was a time of connection and quality time with family members, and a time of reflection as to the relation between one’s commitment to one’s family, and commitment to work, social obligations, and public entertainment activities of sorts.

It was a time to clean, tidy, and do maintenance; and a time to catch up on so many delayed projects and tasks that needed some peace and quiet to fulfil.

And it was also a time to make use of spaces at home, both inside and outside, that were neglected or deserted for years, because one did not have “the time” to chill at home.

In fact, in many neighbourhoods, porches, balconies, and terraces appeared, before the advent of the corona virus, to have been built for no purpose whatsoever.

When COVID-19 hit, slowly but steadily these spaces started to attract family gatherings and activities that should have happened in ordinary times, if people simply made time for it.

Two things, in particular, stood out.

One was the revival of the idea of the neighbourhood, which we have lost for decades. The minute the curfew was eased and people were allowed to come out on foot, one started to see lively neighbourhoods: people who go out to run errands, to walk in the neighbourhood, to exercise, etc.

All of a sudden, one started to see the faces of one’s neighbours, and started to see them as families, rather than ghosts in SUVs whizzing by.

Many started to recognise each other and say hello; sometimes stop to chat.

This continued of course until the use of cars was permitted, and these monsters on four wheels began to bring about a speedy end to neighbourhood peace, tranquility and human connectivity.

The other was the increase of the use of cycling. The grounding of cars encouraged many people either to use the bicycles they have been storing for a long time, or buy new ones.

Children, and young people and old, took to the habit of riding their bikes in the neighbourhood: for errands or for fun.

And again, because of this, the neighbourhood began to have a different flavour and a different appeal.

All of a sudden Amman started to look like the more peaceful and human town it was in the 1960s.

But this positive development began quickly to come to an end, when cars were let loose again, and many motorists came out to the street with the usual nastiness and venom.

It was such a beautiful moment in time that which we experienced for about a month: a beautiful Indian summer that has almost come to an end with life going back to normal – i.e. to being abnormal, that is.

Cars, vehicles, motorists. A major problem, and big bad news.

Does it have to be like this in “ordinary” times? Couldn’t we go back to “normal” life, but with livable, peaceful, and friendly neighbourhoods.

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