Will music ever return to our life? It appears to be yes after Dubai lifted restrictions on events and concerts for the vaccinated. The city’s night life brims with music and dance — both raucous and soulful — catering to all tastes and temperaments. The din and noise of the nocturnal life had gone silent for more than a year with the wait getting prolonged with one wave after another of Covid-19 infections. Now it has found an opportunity to resurrect itself with social-distancing and other precautions in place.

Those of us who actively aided and abetted the night life excitement in the city for many years welcomed the news with glee and some trepidation. Will it endure or will it be a short-lived affair? Because this welcome news came at a time when a new lethal strain of the virus was sweeping across India and felling individuals by thousands. There are very few Indian expats whose near and dear ones were not affected by the rampaging virus in their home country.

Dubai means different things to different people. For me when I came to the city more than a decade ago, I was held in thrall by the limitless opportunities of night life, especially when you are living out a bachelor’s life. I had plenty of time and some spare money, not big though, to expend on tapping pleasures of the sin life. I lived that life with gay abandon as if there is no tomorrow. I did take breaks from this unlimited entertainment off and on before the coronavirus paused it for more than a year from the beginning of 2020. It was a sort of welcome break from the unbridled life that I had been living for so long. I thought it will be over in a short while. But that was not to be. It lasted for more than a year and even now it is uncertain if we have a way out of it.

As I visited a few happening places this week after a year-long hiatus, I saw enthusiasm and cheerfulness but some diffidence as well. People are guarded and holding back on their instinct to hug and shake hands. They are treading a very cautious way out of the restricted life. The government has it on record to say this reopening experiment will be tried for a month and an assessment will be made thereafter. Excitement is writ large on the faces of hospitality workers who took the worst beating from the pandemic. They are lighting up the moment they see guests as they have been waiting for this day for so long.

For me personally this was a second coming of sorts. Years of leading a sinful life caught up with me. I can never be as wanton now as I was officially certified as a diabetic during the pandemic interlude. Corona or no corona, it is time for me to slow down and rein in my night-time excesses. Moderation is the mantra as it will help keep my sugar levels down and the ever-present virus at bay. But lure of night life will stay and I have to find ways to resist it.

The music and dance component of Dubai’s night life is taking baby steps to regain its former glory, wary of the capricious ways of the virus which has the uncanny ability to reinvent itself. It is long way to go before we come to where we were at the end of 2019. It is a gradual process where we experiment with various forms of reopening to test if the invisible beast still retained its virulence.

More dangerous versions are sprouting by the day. The one that surfaced in Vietnam, news reports say, is a hybrid of variants first found in India and the UK and is more transmissible by air. It has combined within itself the worst features of both the variants and can have lethal effect on populations. Japanese doctors are warning against holding Olympics in the country as they fear a gathering of this size may spawn its own mutation which may well be called Olympic strain. So the end is not near anytime soon and we should set sights on staying safe even as we go about our normal lives.

We have to live with the virus for a considerable time as experts have been warning us. But it is no deterrent for not visiting our favourite watering holes. It is possible to keep our feisty selves alive even as we observe restrictions to stay safe. Despite being fully vaccinated and observing precautionary measures, there is still a slim chance of brush with the dreaded infection. We have to carry on with life as it comes and it is no reason for giving up finer things of life.

Dr Anthony S. Fauci, the indefatigable virus expert and adviser to the US president, has rightly said that the end of the virus will not be a one-off affair. You do not wake up to a virus-free world one fine morning. The dreaded thing will go out of our life gradually and imperceptibly without us coming to know of it. After a few years down the line, we might struggle to put a date when it has exited our life. But a virus-free world is possible. It is a question of when and not if. Let us not give up hope.

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