For my first post of 2021, I thought I’d do something a little different — a photo-essay looking back on Mumbai’s lockdown last year.
The city officially went into lockdown, along with the entire nation, on March 25th, following a one-day curfew on March 22nd. The lockdown was extended multiple times until the end of May, at which point restrictions began to ease gradually throughout the rest of the year.
For several months, Mumbai was the worst-hit city in India. Half way through the year it accounted for more than 18 percent of the total cases in the country. But towards the end of the year the number of new cases began to fall steadily.
The following pictures (and a few videos) capture a little of what daily life was like in the virus-ravaged megacity last year.
Bandra’s coastal road, usually teeming with traffic, lies desolate during the Janata Curfew. I wrote about the Janata Curfew in a previous blog post.
The market in front of the Mt Mary Basilica lies eerily quiet during the Janata Curfew, the stalls selling votive candles covered up with tarpaulin sheets.
The crows own the streets. This is video footage of a usually bustling street during the Janata Curfew.
Not a soul in sight in a public recreational area opposite the Bandstand Promenade in Bandra.
Turn your sound on (but not too loud!) to hear Bandra residents clapping for healthcare workers during the Janata Curfew.
An empty lane in Bandra with a freshly painted mural honouring Irrfan Khan, a revered actor who died in April 2020.
When liquor stores reopened on May 4th, queues like this one were seen all over Mumbai. I wrote about the chaotic reopening of liquor stores in a previous blog post.
Midway through the year public spaces reopened, including the Bandstand Promenade, seen here on June 26th, 2020.
Billboards in Prabhadevi exhorting the public to regularly wash hands, avoid physical contact, etc.
A group of kids watches the sun go down in September 2020.
People queue up for food handouts on Hill Road, Bandra.
A bakery in Bandra. September 2020.
A mural in Prabhadevi dedicated to the workers who kept essential services going throughout the lockdown.
An official notice pasted outside an apartment occupied by Covid patients.
By October, many people had more or less abandoned the idea of social distancing, as this picture of a crowded sports field in Bandra shows.
A building in Prabhadevi decorated with coloured lights for Diwali.
A flight attendant in full PPE can be seen preparing for a flight in the rear of this Air India plane.
A pre-flight selfie during a trip to Delhi in November. Masks and face shields were mandatory for all passengers but only middle-seat passengers were required to wear a protective gown. I will be writing about the trip in detail soon.
Besides being denied the use of public transport, people who venture out without a mask run the risk of being fined.
By December crowds had returned to the Worli Seaface.
Work on the Mumbai Coastal Road, a mammoth engineering project, continued throughout the lockdown.
A public health notice pasted on a construction hoarding on the Worli Seaface promenade. By the end of the year, few were heeding social distancing guidelines.
Shoppers throng a shopping mall in Lower Parel on Christmas Day. Aside from the few loosely worn facemasks, you wouldn’t know this picture was taken in the midst of a pandemic!
A screen showing a live count of visitor numbers at the mall on Christmas Day.
Kids (and some adults) race remote control cars in a Hamleys toy store inside the mall. We had gone there to exchange a faulty item, not prepared for the scenes of mayhem we encountered there. We asked a staff member whether he was getting paid extra on account of the considerable health risk, not to mention the extra work and stress — he chuckled and said no, pointing out that Christmas Day is usually much busier.
One of the final sunsets of 2020, as seen from our new house in Prabhadevi. I will be writing about the house move soon.