Kishwar Desai | Clubbing is back, so is beachwear; women’s soccer draws all the fans

But even so, we are still in some ways under the influence of the pandemic

The coronavirus (for all practical purposes) is almost gone. People have stopped wearing masks. Spring is here and the sunshine is lighting up our lives. But even so, we are still in some ways under the influence of the pandemic, and feverish revenge partying has no vaccine.

For one thing there is a strong sign of relief, especially among the urban young. Night clubbing is back in fashion for young people who have been cooped up for last two years. So many are making up for lost time, some travelling from the outlying regions to get to the big cities just to party all weekend. There is even a new fashion line in swimwear. Not to wear before you plunge in but to display as you lounge on the beach or even to wear when you go clubbing. It is a new hit.

That is the good news but there is also the negative. During early days of Covid, we were driven to stock up on weekly essentials by long visits to the supermarket. The hoarders certainly were right to get in the queue early. This time it is a different kind of challenge. The high prices of daily necessities have shaken people. Supermarkets are trying to prevent customers from hoarding.

Even something so simple as cooking oil. We gather that the bigger chains are restricting their buyers to just one or at most three large bottles and no more. Little did we know that a lot of our sunflower oil comes from Ukraine. Rationing almost 80 years after the last war! Yes, we have a war in Ukraine, but this was unexpected.

Meanwhile, our politics has also been intoxicated by the scandals, true or rumoured of what happened with the government ministers and especially the Prime Minister during the days of lockdown when everyone was supposed to isolate and not party raucously. Ten, Downing Street, is a large office as well as one small flat for the Prime Minister. Office parties go on all the while, but now they are being investigated by the Scotland Yard. Boris Johnson has been a target of the Opposition parties for some months now. Neither his trip to Ukraine to see the Ukraine leader Volodymyr Zelenskyy, nor his more recent trip to India to see his khaas dost Narendra Modi, has helped him escape the censure of the House of Commons. Even his own Party members are beginning to peel off.

So while Boris was in Delhi, the British Press was more interested in his Partygate follies than in Ukraine or trade treaty with India. Our newspapers had nothing to report about the glorious spring in Delhi or Ahmedabad. The Press was only concerned with whether Boris had a drink breaking the lockdown rules.

Boris had hoped he could persuade his party in the House of Commons to vote down the Opposition proposal and support instead his preferred version which would have postponed the inquiry farther into the future. Alas that was not to be. His supporters are peeling away. Now, with the House of Commons having voted for an inquiry by the privileges committee, the show will run and run for three months at least. At the end of it, given his run of good luck so far, Boris may yet get away with it. But there is no telling. We are going to have a long hot summer come what may.

We have no great luck with cricket either. The English Test team has been losing in Australia and West Indies. The old captain Joe Root has been fired and a new team has to be selected with the coach and other officials in place. The only consolation is that the women’s team is doing better than the men’s team. Not only in cricket but in football as well. Women’s teams are attracting big crowds while with men’s teams only the Premiere League teams are attracting fans. Maybe we will change our watching habits and watch women’s sports more avidly. In the meantime, the World Cup for soccer is coming up this winter in Qatar. That may yet be a human rights boycott story. No one is sure as yet.

All this palaver is not helping the celebration of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. She has just this week celebrated her 96th birthday. There are plans afoot for all sorts of parties but it depends on whether she will be in public joining the fun or sitting quietly somewhere resting and remembering her life. We have a long week of celebration in June. Let us hope we get through that in a jolly way whatever may happen to whoever is the Prime Minister.

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