Omicron's distinctive mutation pattern means that conventional PCR tests can distinguish it from Delta and other variants Image Credit: Gulf News

When Canada finally opened flights from India, we heaved a sigh of relief and my wife booked two tickets to Toronto for December.

(Incidentally, Canadians who can afford it, escape to Florida, or to the Bahamas in winter, something like how some people Gulf rush off to London during the summertime).

Last time she booked our flights, travellers from India were being banned to various countries because of the Delta variant that was first detected here. (World Health Organisation renamed the new virus after a Greek alphabet Delta).

After my wife cancelled the tickets, she had a tough time getting the money back from the airline.

For days, she was shunted from person to person and finally after she threatened to go on social media, a message pinged in her in-box that the money was sent back to her credit card.

Disruption of 2020

It has been two years since my wife and I and our sons have got together, and Christmas we thought, was a great seasonal holiday to meet after the disruption of 2020.

I thought it would be an even memorable get-together, if we could see a show (a famous and controversial musical) at the Princess of Wales Theatre in Toronto, but did not realise how excruciatingly frustrating it would be to get tickets during the Holiday Season.

Technology is amazing in that I can sit here In Bengaluru, and book tickets for a show across the world, in Canada. But there is usually some glitch in high-tech which is coded in there just for the heck of it, and for some reason I could not book five seats together (for my family and our son’s friend).

You could however, purchase one ticket, but imagine how miserable it would be being alone on a holiday and who would want to go to a show by themselves!

It had to be two, four or six seats. But if I upped the price of the ticket, sure sir, you can buy five tickets, and if you upgrade from the Balcony to the Orchestra, so much the better.

In a crowded theatre

When I proudly told my wife about my perseverance and human ingenuity wining over high-tech, she said, “Would it be a good idea to sit in a crowded theatre on Christmas with Omicron about”?

If you are one of the many people who do not know what Omicron is, and who are concerned about many nations in the world contemplating a lockdown, do wear masks and get vaxxed, that is fine. Everyone is entitled to their point of view, and as they say, it is a free world.

Omicron, which sounds like OMG (Oh My God), is the latest variant that was first discovered in South Africa and WHO, trying to be politically correct, named the latest virus after this Greek alphabet, which is represented by an upper case O and a lower case o.

But WHO was in a fix because it could not name the virus after the two alphabets that were next in line, as the alphabets Nu and Xi.

However much my wife gets into a panic over the pandemic, she somehow gets to be on ground zero. Recently, her aunt was sick and had to be hospitalised, so she flew to Delhi, and horrors, went visiting into a hospital.

Just for your edification, nobody goes willingly to Delhi at these times. The only people who are forced to go to the capital, are maybe trade delegations, or foreign politicians.

So, as the scientists say: Man proposes, Covid disposes, and we are sitting and waiting and wondering whether we will need to get the third or the fourth booster shots, and hoping we do not have to cancel the tickets again.

Mahmood Saberi is a storyteller and blogger based in Bengaluru, India. Twitter: @mahmood_saberi