I walked to the local park. This was the first time I ventured out on foot, walking the neighbourhood. In the playground cricket has resumed. Looking at them it feels as though nothing happened. Only that there was a gap of two months in them returning to the playground since the last game. This ability to resume, seemingly unaffected, is characteristic of Indian cities. The residents feel different about their experience through this pandemic than people like me who do not see themselves living here permanently.
As I resume slow walks and physiotherapy, I am thinking of how perception of risk changes with time and experiences. Does an accident or an injury that limits a person in ways that matter the most to him, lead to transformative changes in life? I read Morgan Housel’s piece The Three Sides of Risk (H/T Satish). On taking a decision that feels risky there is a tendency to do a quick check on consequences. As long as the consequences seem acceptable in the event that adverse event occurs, the move is made. With this approach a large number of decision making and risk taking events of life can be handled. However, transformational changes are borne by those very high risk and low probability events that can occur. For the low probability of them happening, they never tend to significantly influence the decision in the first place. But when that low probability, high risk event occurs it brings down our world like never before. Morgan Housel recollects one such in his life and terms it as ‘the tail-end consequences of getting hit’. He concludes that tail-end events are all that matter. In his investing advice he urges to focus on tail-end events. This year has presented a couple of opportunities to relate to this perspective on risk taking. It is a seemingly simple insight yet easy to overlook in the flow of daily life.
In my living memory, this is the first time I notice a widespread sense of vulnerability among people. It is getting weary. In the neighbourhood park I saw a few young men and women spending the Eid evening together. The men wore crisp white abaya. There weren’t too many people around. The bazaar remained shut. Walking around, I spotted a small group of women having their evening tea together, gathered under one of the house’s porch. In the silence of the neighbourhood I read lives stressed out and worried with an uncertain future. These days are changing family situations in unexpected ways Not many businesses have made any money in the last two months. To eat into the savings is always a cause of worry. In the absence of the usual celebration at Eid this year I notice the centrality of faith in all that is meaningful in our lives.
The number of infections in India are on the rise. It has crossed 140,000 confirmed cases. Mumbai is having the worst outbreak among all the cities. It should worry us how the fabric of our cities will get affected by this pandemic. As of now, we watch the numbers, read news on how this city has managed to exit through all these decades being short on every essential need, service and infrastructure that is necessary to live a decent life.
A question that occupies me these days is, if this reckoning will lead us into a better future.