A kiss isn’t just a kiss in the pandemic world
In New Zealand, a new greeting made by lifting your chin and eyebrows is inspired by the Maori, who traditionally greet one another by pressing noses and foreheads.Updated: Jul 19, 2020 17:28 IST
King Henry XVI banned kissing in 1430s England, in an attempt to control spread of the plague. Covid-19 - a pandemic in a flat world prone to outsourcing - has forced us to self-police or assume the risks. So what is the future of meeting, celebrating?
New nods: The chin-brow lift and footshake
The handshake, a gesture that dates to the 5th century BC, began as a gesture of peace — stretching out your dominant hand meant you didn’t have it on your sword.
Today, it would seem almost menacing, as would the hug and fistbump.
Instead, catching on is the Namaste, our Indian greeting of joined hands and bowed head, made at a distance. Prince Charles and French President Emmanuel Macron have been greeting others like this lately.
Others are opting to bump elbows or do the Wuhan Shake aka footshake, where you bump the sides of your feet together.
In New Zealand, a new greeting made by lifting your chin and eyebrows is inspired by the Maori, who traditionally greet one another by pressing noses and foreheads.
Intense planning and scheduling
Let’s meet after work; let’s discuss over lunch—these aren’t things we’re likely to be able to say for a long time. Even events that we do plan will look different — smaller groups, less carpooling.
Planning where to meet, always problematic, is set to become more so. Offices, as they reopen, are working in shifts of no more than 30% of the workforces. Co-working spaces will have similar restrictions.
Art spaces in countries that have opened up, like Italy and Spain, for instance, are only allowing a few hundred people in per day. Large groups are likely to be frowned upon across the board.
The time factor
An expanded work-from-home workday, coupled with chores and childcare, will mean more time-saving and convenient video calls. These have been getting more elaborate and innovative already. Hashtags such as #BooksAsOutfits are seeing book club members dress up to resemble book covers or themes. Birthday, anniversary and other parties are set to remain video affairs too, with themes, décor and costumes already making an appearance.
Geography and approach
At least in the immediate future, we are likely to pick our offline buddies based on how close they are geographically, and in their approach to the pandemic.
Are they social distancing as I am, are they having people over, do they commute a lot for work or pleasure - these will be more important factors than common taste in movies or music.
The money factor
Get-togethers are going to involve less expenditure and rely more heavily on open-air activities like walking and jogging and relatively inexpensive ones like drives, potlucks and picnics. “The need for open spaces will grow because this is where most of us will be spending most of our outdoor time,” says Lakshmi Lingam, professor of school of media and cultural studies at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences. “For that reason also, geographical proximity will start to play a larger role.”
Festivals amid the pandemic
In May, we had Eid-al-Fitr in the time of Covid-19. Mosques broadcast prayers online and shopping was minimal. Ganeshotsav, Maharashtra’s largest festival, will have no idols over 4 ft. The Lalbaughcha Raja mandal has decided not to celebrate; many others will adopt smaller idols and broadcast aartis online. Families will also celebrate the festival for fewer days, with smaller idols made of metal or marble, to simplify immersion. Durga Puja, similarly, will be a scaled-down affair, due to concerns over social distancing as well as budget cuts amid the pandemic.