O, I Miss the Good Old Days of Covid 19

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O, I Miss the Good Old Days when news broke just at the height of the tourist season that Thailand suddenly found itself in the middle of world drama.

Feeling Nostalgic in a Beach Town in Thailand

In 2020, the news broke just at the height of tourism. Thailand, known for its serene beaches and vibrant life, suddenly found itself in the middle of world drama.

O, how I miss those days when life was a thrilling rollercoaster of uncertainty. I miss the days when panic was a daily report, and hazmat suits became the fashion in airports, with officers and travelers strutting down the halls in full-body protective gear.

O, how I miss those days when flights were canceled left, right, and center. The world was full of grounded planes, littered yet, so neatly lined up. Such a pretty sight. Such genius logistics. Stranded tourists participated in the airline roulette: receiving a daily email meant you could win a refund or land a one-way ticket to a country where you would be notified again if you would get to board another flight.



O, how I miss that travel anxiety. Some of my friends bought three different airline tickets during the mad rush and still could not get on a single flight. Stoned young travelers just did not bother. They opted to lay low on little islands in the south. “Can’t fly, stay high. Namaste.”

O, how I miss the good old days when news updates were like a never-ending sitcom. Breaking news banners on TV screens, every day a new episode with plot twists.

O, I miss the days when panic was a daily report, and hazmat suits became the fashion in airports, with officers and travelers strutting down the halls in full-body protective gear.

In Bangkok, where smart Gov people reside, they set up a whole separate Department of Health just to address us every day. WHO also had its hands full; its staff had to work, and the bosses had to supervise. The Thai doctors assigned to the TV broadcasts were more followed than the rock stars, presenting charts, stats, and graphs telling us where the red zones were. Dark red meant plenty of Covid in this or that province or district. Then there were light red, hues of yellow, blue, and green.


Each day the colors moved closer and closer to dark red. It was thrilling and entertaining. Doctors answered all the questions intelligently about the virus that they did not understand. Floating blue and red spiked balls were a constant sight on the internet for all to study. I miss the days when everybody knew everything equally and at the same time.

O, how I miss those early days of numerous press conferences held by government officials who did not know what to do but brag, “Thailand still had no cases because we are efficient in handling, and Thai people are obedient to the rules and regulations, while in Western countries, the virus spread faster than a comet because people there are more concerned about their individual rights. We should be proud.”


So proud of their achievements, they went ahead and allowed high-so people with connections to enter the country without quarantine, and some highly influential pubs with connections to remain open. The last straw was when a boxing ring run by generals, where gambling and corruption aplenty occurred, was allowed to operate, resulting in the first big epidemic disaster, which eventually joined the pandemic boy band.

The quarantine era was when those who traveled and came back had to spend a fortune staying at SHA hotels, with meals being placed at the door. How else would one know what it is like to be in prison? Hand sanitizer became the must-have accessory. Those who could buy 70% alcohol content were looked upon with envy. It was more valuable than a Louis Vuitton bag.



O, how I miss the days when masks turned us all into undercover superheroes. Faces became mysterious, and we learned the art of smiling with our eyes. We saved so much money on lipstick and makeup, only to spend more on eyeshadows and false lashes. We became that “Afghan woman under the veil” painting that used to be in every art gallery in South Pattaya.

TV news was fun to watch. Even newscasters joined the masquerade, struggling to breathe through the triple layers of cloth. Some improvised and created glass partitions between the two newscasters, but found that they still had to wear masks due to government orders, and they obeyed. In the meantime, another general-run boxing ring had spread more virus.

O, I miss the good old days when news updates were like a never-ending sitcom. Breaking news banners on TV screens, every day a new episode with plot twists.

O, how I miss those days when social distancing rules turned us all into paranoid robots. Everyone suspected everyone. No more kissy-kissy, only awkward sidesteps, elbow bumps, and fist bumps. I liked that; that rule should stay. One man asked the doctor if he could make love with his girlfriend. “Yes, of course, with proper social distancing of 6 feet apart. Rules are rules.”

O, how I miss the days of lockdowns, and when grocery shopping needed strategizing. The supermarket aisles had lines, colored footprints, and arrows on the floor to be diligently followed. In some countries, the quest for toilet paper was harder than finding the Holy Grail. Luckily in Thailand, toilet paper was not part of the battleground, and we were constantly told there was enough food; no need to hoard. Yet, every household kept tons of rice, fish sauce, and instant noodles. I still have some leftover MAMA from those good ol’ days. Now and then I hold those packets in my hands and reminisce.


O, how I miss those days when Zoom meetings were a lifesaver for lonely people and for companies that did not want to pay people to just stay home and not show their faces. So, they had people in suits, ties, and bare bottoms sitting in front of the computer screens, with occasional children screaming, a wife yelling, and a naked man running past in the background. You had to watch every meeting to catch it. It was hit-and-miss.

O, how I miss those days when the pursuit of new hobbies turned us into experts. Baking experiments resembled science projects. There were show-offs of successfully baked sourdough bread and carrot cakes. Those who flopped never admitted they tried it. “Nah, it’s not my thing.”

O, how I miss those days when beaches stood empty, resembling postcard snapshots of paradise without the human stampede.

New talents were everywhere: drawing, sketching, knitting. We learned to be with ourselves, to talk and complain to ourselves. A relief to other people’s ears. Some still made it a point to call and yell, as unfortunately, personal phones were virus-free. Those living with spouses were hit the hardest. They would wish they were quarantined alone in a SHA Hotel somewhere with food placed at the door.

Desperate for solutions, vaccines were being produced at the speed of light, telling us that it would be the only way to survival. So finally, after a year and a half, the super vaccines that we did not know that we did not need arrived like water in the desert. The lines forming for the jabs resembled queues for amusement park rides: an air of excitement and a dash of anxiety. “Should I get on the roller coaster? No, yes, no, yes, no, oh what the hell!”

O, I miss the lines forming for the jabs resembled queues for amusement park rides: an air of excitement and a dash of anxiety. “Should I get on the roller coaster? No, yes, no, yes, no, oh what the hell!”

Getting a shot felt like a VIP pass, selfies of plasters pasted on arms at hospitals indicated that we were better than those sub-humans still waiting to be called. Two years down the road, many vaccinated bodies still caught the virus. “What we meant was, vaccines won’t prevent you from getting it, but it will lessen the severity of the sickness and you won’t die from it.” And so the story goes.

O, how I miss those days when animals suddenly discovered that the land was free to roam, not realizing that humans were on hiatus. They reclaimed their natural habitats. Birds sang, and dogs sunbathed on sand without being chased away, and squirrels put on acrobatic shows on palm trees on beaches.

News across the world showed different tourist spots where water had become clean. Venice canals were clear, rivers, oceans, and corals had a chance to heal, and fish and dolphins came out to play. The animal kingdom had discovered that tranquility was possible even in the cities and that humans were an unnecessary asset but just a set of asses.

O, how I miss the days of lockdowns, and when grocery shopping needed strategizing and we were constantly told there was enough food; no need to hoard.

O, how I miss those days when beaches stood empty, resembling postcard snapshots of paradise without the human stampede. I felt the serenity that I did not know was possible in this resort town. Beaches were roped off, so a few people doing their exercise had to walk on the roads, which were also empty. Baht buses, bar girls, shop workers, and others who were not locals opted to go home to their hometown of Nakhorn Nowhere to start new little businesses of their own: online selling, food carts, or just planting vegetables, breeding chickens, or just playing with buffalos. Life went on, with less money but more peace.

The city hall joined the peacefulness and halted all the road repairs during the time when it was ideal to get things fixed. It is more fun to dig and pipe in full force all over the city and beyond as soon as the tourists came back and roads are chock-a-block again with buses. It is a fun city after all.

Still, we were lucky here. Restrictions were not as brutal as in many other countries. Unfortunately, at the beginning of it all, many people did not make it, and those who survived hoped to realize that life can change at any moment.

Covid days in Thailand were a whirlwind, a mixture of unexpected life lessons; survival does not take much; we do not need much, or buy much, party much, and we don’t have to overwork as much, complain much, travel much, or fret much over small things. We realize that any given day could bring another super-spreading scapegoat viral bat from a wet market, another “experiment” or “accidental” leak from a lab, or another strange strain coming from either Timbuktu or Raufarhofn, begging for another scam of the century: the miracle vaccines.
Valuable life lessons indeed, which we will never learn anyway.






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