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New normal has allowed children to travel and meet up with elderly parents. Image Credit: Shutterstock

Are we back to normality after waves of COVID 19? Looks like it. Cast your eyes around and you won’t see many masked people outdoors. That’s because masks are mandatory only indoors since the risk is high in closed areas.

It’s been an absolute pleasure to walk outdoors without masks yet feel secure. Two years of masks have been suffocating, but that pain was worth it. Now we are in a better place. A place without masks, at least in the open air.

Theatres are running at full capacity, restaurants are buzzing, and people are travelling. Shoppers are thronging the malls, schools are full, and stadiums are alive with the applause of spectators. Life, as we know it, has returned.

The sheer joy of travelling

Air travel is slowly getting back on its feet, although regular schedules are not back. The signs are there. Airports are filled with beaming faces. They have reason to be happy; two years of being stranded at a place have underscored the joys of travelling.

That joy is writ large on the faces of people who travel to their home countries. Two years is a long time, especially if the parents are very old. Most children have avoided travelling to meet their parents as the risk of fatalities among the elderly is high. Many were forced to put off visits as Delta and Omicron variants ran amok.

Video chats and zoom meetings helped, but they lacked in warmth and intimacy. There’s something magical about home and hearth. Nostalgia too. We missed it all. All that has changed. Family reunions are back, signalling the arrival of normality.

Fall admission overseas

Students too are looking to enrol overseas. COVID had put an end to that, much to the delight of local universities and colleges. Much of Europe and the United States have removed travel restrictions, and COVID protocols have been eased. That has prompted students to apply to foreign universities.

Fall admissions are underway, classes will start in September, and students are preparing to fly out. Parents may dread the prospect of empty nests, but they will rejoice as their children spread their wings and fly to independence.

Closer home, COVID is no longer treated with trepidation. The drill is familiar. If you have a fever, do a PCR test. If you are positive, isolate and ride out the virus. Since almost all of us are vaccinated, a COVID infection tends to be mild. If you have breathing issues, check into a hospital. If you test negative, get on with life. That’s the new normal.

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Common cold and flu are around. People still come down with a fever or a sore throat. Is it COVID? In these times, the suspicion is natural. And a PCR test is the best way to dispel the fears.

Fear we should, because the coronavirus is still around. Newer strains and hybrid variants are keeping researchers busy. So we should continue to keep our guard up since more waves are still possible, as evident from China’s battle with the virus.

In most parts of the world, COVID has receded. The number of infections has decreased drastically, and deaths are fewer. For that, we have to thank vaccinations. The jabs have given us the courage to return to normality. A normality made precious by the COVID sweep. A new normality. But I will take it.