BHOPAL: The lockdown has entered its second phase to fight COVID-19. Such a lockdown has never happened before or since.

How does it feel to be locked down in Bhopal, a lively city, where people know how to laugh and make others do so.

It looks different today. In pre-cornovirus times, it would draw swarms of vehicles to Chetak Bridge, thousands of people to old Bhopal and to New Market.

Hundreds would be seen queue up outside banks. Markets were abuzz with activities and daily commuters throwing a few jokes or a few abuses at one another.

Buses were full to their capacity. People clang to its spine like busy bees around blooming mango trees.

Now, the Shymla Hill is empty. The city below is eerily silent. The Upper Lake surrounded by hillocks and woods, Taj-ul-Masajid, the Lower Lake, Sahapura Lake and the skyscrapers lie dormant.

One cannot hear the hum of Bhopal’s traffic. The airport road seems to have slept forever. Yet, the city breathes. It has an inner life.

People sporting masks are seen. A few vehicles, carrying fruits and vegetables, move around.

There is no group-jogging. Fewer shops open to do daily business, though for a while.

The Upper Lake and the Lower Lake flow quietly. There is nobody around them. No boatman can be seen.

The city’s multi-storied hotels loom over a locked-down Van Vihar. Kids are not seen play cricket on roads, though schools and colleges closed.

Only Chirayu Medical College, AIIMs and other hospitals remain busy round the clock. Here, health workers, doctors, nurses, wearing masks and PPE kits, are sweating it out against the coronavirus.

They have declared an all-out war against the disease. The other warriors are policemen and sanitation workers of the municipal corporation. They are deployed in every location.

In mornings, it seems not much has been locked. And nobody seems that down, because people mill about shops to buy essential commodities.

They have to eat. Yet there is not much left for the poor who fear job loss.

The lockdown may make one feel as if it was the failure of mankind. It is the lack of man’s grit to stand up to a disease.

Yet, there is hope. Thirty people, including two senior IAS officers, have defeated the virus. They have been discharged from hospitals. Many are recovering.

So, Bhopal is neither down nor out. It’s simply locked, because the city knows how to face up to any crisis.

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