Tuesday, September 26, 2023 | Rabi' al-awwal 10, 1445 H
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30°C / 30°C

Talking to the walls – please, don't answer back!


After more than 60 days on lockdown, the routine becomes heavy. The level of self-motivation diminishes. Listening to friends' anxieties, fears, and initiatives in finding happiness in technology, take me into an imaginary trip of observations.

To start, going to the supermarket, something that I never really enjoyed much has become the high point of my outings.  Experiencing the change of visual displays of vegetables and fruits became fascinating. There is a lot of creativity.  Another relaxing way to enjoy the precious minutes spent in the supermarket is to check the origins of fruits and vegetables: Morocco, Greece, France, and Oman.

The diversification of fruits and vegetables grown in Oman is a revelation. Okra, lemon, eggplant, cucumber, broccoli, tomato, and watermelon, the list is not short. There are also the flowers locally grown but not available on supermarkets – occasionally, a farm from the Batinah region sells flowers at reasonable prices in Muscat. Wheat cultivation made the news recently. Many other stories on fruits, vegetables, flowers, honey, dates, locally produced are a myriad of achievements.  Horticulture is part of a food security plan when setting as a strategy rather than a hobby.

With such a focus on eating healthy and using local produce, I can envisage a whole range of entrepreneurship.  Not everybody is fit for a Ph.D. degree or an intellectual career – some persons can exceed in different areas, including manual work - why not look into the strength within society and capitalise in that, I consider.

It takes me to the lately Go Home sort of invitation to expatriates. Foreigners replacing foreigners, perhaps. An unfortunate message that says you are no longer welcome. In any case, many of them are the persons shopping for others in supermarkets, washing cars, or delivering the food to those with higher income – those who stay home obeying the lockdown instructions.  It is a touchy topic, not for now.

The lockdown invites us to look into society with different eyes. Missing social interactions and a routine can trigger emotions. Masks have fallen with this pandemic. One can feel mentally and physically trapped in this titanic psychological experience. Unavoidably, death is at the top of this bizarre situation.  Score, that what it is:  how many died, how many infected, how many recovered.  Just numbers, but they have names. They were mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, and friends. Each victim has a story to tell.

Despite the go-round retrospection, I fall back into the pale worries of an ordinary existence: the fast growth of white hair is bothering me. Then, I see those men talking in front of the television cameras, sitting in meetings, and looking so neat: how they keep the beard so nicely trimmed, I wonder.  I hope the walls will not answer back to me. I have managed the 'do it yourself' root colour that ended up in disaster. Nails, once beautifully manicured, are now rough and ugly. Happily, I realise that am still keeping myself cheerful and sane – though sometimes, I question the contact-tracing applications, and the use of health data and its privacy.

What have we learned from this crisis?  As a first, the skies are clear and starry. The imperfections that we can correct with a click is no longer important, and the oil price war is irrelevant if people cannot fly, and cars cannot go around in circles. The contrasts of poverty and wealth, the disparities of plenty, and waste become far more evident. Here I am concerned about not having hair and nails done, while others are desperate for not having salaries. Essentials have different significances to different people. That is the 2020 hindsight in history.

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