Bumper corona haul

It’s back to good times in the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal. Judging by the crowd in the streets and markets, the corona is distant memory. The laptop lane behind NAC was choc-a-block with people and parked bikes. It is a mystery why the powerful ward office, Kathmandu Maha Nagar Palika, traffic and people at large close their eyes to the bike obstruction of smooth flow of shoppers in the narrow lane. It is also shocking that despite the non-stop movement of people from dawn to dusk, the laptop lane has not yet made headlines as a COVID-19 bank or farm or incubator.

Long before COVID came to hunt us, I spoke with a few vendors about a bike-free lane to augment their business. One answered for all the traders: “On the contrary, if we ban bikes in the lane, our business is doom.” So, on popular demand, we should promote drive-by shops.

There are positive signs too, courtesy of COVID-19. I walked into a narrow entrance underneath a house to reach the firstfloor shop of my coffee vendor.

To my disappointment, a hand-written new business hour reading ‘open from 10 to 1’ greeted me. Since he lost his mother a few months ago to the coronavirus, he has truncated the business hours.

Another COVID-19 incubator would be public offices, including local wards. Nobody will have beef with the crowd if there was no COVID. However, these are not regular times, and the public offices must take all precaution to protect their staff and service seekers.

But who should do this, if not the public offices? However, the only safety protocol they follow is occasionally blurting out the command ‘stay outside’. With no thermometer guns, no sanitizers and bodies pressing against one another to peep at the two-fingered typist, will the virus listen and stay out? Now, with the opening of one of the holiest shrines in the country, the Pashupatinath Temple, some of us have reason to be worried about the sanctuary turning into the bountiful COVID farm. On the day of Balachaturdashi, a sea of mourners, devotees and votaries walked on the ‘satbeej’ trail at the holy shrine, jostling and pushing one another, dispersing the offerings. COVID-19 could not have been happier at the prospect of a grand feast!

We don’t want to reap a bumper corona haul, do we? But for that, we need to be in the majority to decide,even if want to have the corona or not.

Another way to settle this issue is to invite the WHO doctor for a few cultural tours at Pashupati, the marketplaces and public offices and adventure tours onboard our packed public buses.

It would kill two birds with one stone - stirring tourism and killing the ferocious virus.