The UK is turning a royal shade of purple!
The streets are fluffily-festively flowered,
the horses are lining up,
the marching bands are warming up,
the corgis are dressing up.
And Mother Nature has promised to keep the skies gloriously lit up!
Alongside Buckingham Palace, adoring royalists are already choosing their spots, readying themselves for the long wait to see their Queen. Tents are being put in place, accented with flags from across the UK and the world.
Within the same space the stands, the stalls, the staging, and the flags are all lined up in perfect symmetry.
The countdown is on. One sees and feels it everywhere. A hurriedness, wishing the special days of celebration closer. Early morning passersby on the way to their last days of work before special Jubilee public holidays and committed joggers alike break their stride to take in sights of Buckingham Palace shining brightly in the early morning while rigging companies and landscapers buzz about building what will be a gala stage soon to be seen across the globe. Just in case, generators hum, elevating energy levels.
Soon, very soon, the air will fill with the scent of scones baking as classically British fare is consumed across the land, accompanied by joyful toasts echoing far and wide. Bubbles, bunting, fascinators, full tails, all the frills one would expect at a time so significant, so special, so celebratory.
And so healing.
Time for a celebration that will be a marker of a lifetime, in all our lifetimes.
Symmetry, once more.
The Platinum Jubilee of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II will be – has already become, in fact – an event of immense anticipation and unification.
So too was the Coronation of Her Majesty on June 02nd 1953 – her crowning as Queen marking the turning of a page for the country and Commonwealth in the post-war years. A bookmark in her life.
70 years on, another bookmark in the story of her life, and all our lives.
In so many ways it feels as if, like Mother Nature, Her Majesty knew then, and now, what was needed to embed the eyes of her people on the future, with hope, with a heart-smile. To give one and all a chance to confidently meet again, hug again, dream again…
In the buildup to the Jubilee, one can feel a distinct decompression in minds and hearts across United Kingdom. Even globally, excitement for Her Majesty is felt. There’s a feeling of finally, finally, we’re able to breathe again.
For this reason, in so many ways, this moment, this Platinum Jubilee, is an essential part of the therapy that is needed to bring people through what has been one of the darkest times in our generation. There’s a poetic symmetry, not just in the flags that so majestically line The Mall leading up to Buckingham Palace, but a symmetry in these times.
70 years ago, and now, people are coming together, knowing that the intensity of the COVID-19 trauma experienced had passed.
70 years ago, and now, there is acute understanding of the work needing to be done to rebuild lives and livelihoods.
And still, 70 years ago, and now, there is respect for the need to also rebuild hope and hearts.
Importantly now, like then, national budgets are tight. So much money has been spent in recent past on pure survival – keeping people, businesses, and communities strong, healthy, and alive. But now, like then, investment in the Platinum Jubilee is accepted as a priceless investment in resetting spirit and the sense of direction. Now, right now, the Platinum Jubilee is this generation’s one chance to bring everyone together – the United Kingdom, the Commonwealth, and even parts of the world, to be tightly, warmly and confidently held together in a deep, loving purple ribbon.
Her Majesty, like Mother Nature, knew we would reach this point. And that when we did, pausing to mark the moment was critical so as to not only reset our eyes and hearts on our tomorrow, but appreciate the journey taken in our past. To breathe again.
Symmetry, in her actions, and words – most recently on April 5, 2020, when Her Majesty delivered her speech to the United Kingdom in the early days of national shutdown due to COVID-19: Symmetry of thought, statement, guiding spirit:
“Together we are tackling this disease, and I want to reassure you that if we remain united and resolute, then we will overcome it. I hope in the years to come everyone will be able to take pride in how they responded to this challenge, and those who come after us will say the Britons of this generation were as strong as any, that the attributes of self-discipline, of quiet, good-humoured resolve, and of fellow feeling still characterise this country. The pride in who we are is not a part of our past, it defines our present and our future.
It reminds me of the very first broadcast I made in 1940, helped by my sister. We as children spoke from here at Windsor to children who had been evacuated from their homes and sent away for their own safety. Today, once again, many will feel a painful sense of separation from their loved ones, but now as then, we know deep down that it is the right thing to do. While we have faced challenges before, this one is different. This time we join with all nations across the globe in a common endeavour. Using the great advances of science and our instinctive compassion to heal, we will succeed, and that success will belong to every one of us.
We should take comfort that while we may have more still to endure, better days will return. We will be with our friends again. We will be with our families again.
We will meet again.
But for now, I send my thanks and warmest good wishes to you all.”
Thank you, Ma’am. May the celebrations, and healing, begin. x
Copyright: ANITA MENDIRATTA 2022
We all knew the symptoms.
We all knew the signs.
It wasn’t something unfamiliar.
And yet being told it’s COVID can be quite a surprise, especially when it’s COVID for the second time.
Now it all makes sense. All the symptoms, and all the signs.
As we move into year three of COVID around the world with different countries facing different levels of openness and closure, it is so easy for us all to start to become quite lazy about the situation.
“It’s like the flu.”
“It’s like a common cold.”
“Once you test negative after having tested positive, you’re in the clear.”
“It’s given me antibodies!”
It’s not the case.
It’s not as easy as that.
It’s not suddenly over.
The fact that it’s always going to be with us. And when one gets it, especially for a second and possibly third, the shock can be quite significant.
Because the surprise is not having felt the symptoms, not recognising the signs, again.
A simple cough is assumed to be a simple cough, a restriction on lung capacity simply thought to be something else.
A blip in strength refusing to move on.
And then suddenly it all makes sense.
It’s COVID, again.
And then consider this: how many people go through the symptoms, go through the signs, with no sense at all that they’re going through another positive, and in doing so, that they’re at the risk of infecting others again, for the first possibly second time?
COVID 19 is showing us that the numbers do not have a limit: the cases, the losses.
COVID 19 is showing us that the damage can continue: across the body, across borders, across industries and communities, across the world.
COVID 19 is showing us that Mother Nature is still in charge. x
Copyright: ANITA MENDIRATTA 2022
What difference can it make?
What difference can one word,
As the world watches in shock, one country continues to face immense trauma. Over 4 million people have fled their country in desperate hopes of finding a place of peace. Over 6.5 million have found themselves internally displaced. All in just over one month. (Source: UNHCR)
What difference does it make for one voice to call out, to express a thought, to say a prayer?
For millions upon millions seeking shelter, seeking safety, seeking to not be left alone and forgotten, it makes all the difference in the world.
In just a matter of hours one of the world’s most unifying events will come to a close: EXPO 2020. A six-month celebration of unity across 192 nations, EXPO will have brought together close to 25 million people of different countries, cultures, faiths, ages, and ideologies from across the globe – all sharing a commitment to a stronger, safer, more sustainable and sincerely unified future world.
At the heart of EXPO 2020 has been three central, symbiotic themes: Sustainability, Mobility, and Opportunity.
In the closing weeks of EXPO there was, however, one theme that emerged in one national pavilion which eclipsed all others: Humanity.
The pavilion: Ukraine.
The creators of pavilion architecture: the nation.
The exhibition curators: ultimately the world.
The indication of the message to the world from the outside: invisible.
The impact on entering the pavilion and feeling its message: an immediate flow of tears that was simply unavoidable.
What was once a national pavilion exhibition showcasing opportunities for connection to the world through innovation and investment had, in the past month of 2022, and last month of EXPO 2020, become a global show of sympathy and solidarity.
Immediately entering the pavilion visitors walked straight into literally a world of messages from the world to the people of Ukraine. Thousands and thousands. Everywhere, as far as the eye could see and heart could reach.
Unplanned, un-curated, and un-campaigned, the building had turned into a love letter from the world to the people of Ukraine across the world.
The power of the sight was penetrating. Thousands and thousands of times over, visitors to the pavilion left their mark:
one expression of love,
times thousands and thousands and thousands.
can indeed unite the world,
including those who have watched from afar and found themselves voiceless, helpless, yet wanting to do something to show their solidarity, their care,
even if simply sharing a message of love.
The Ukraine EXPO pavilion became, so beautifully and so powerfully, a way of magnifying one voice, one message, and one prayer to tell the people of Ukraine that they were not alone.
Through a small pavilion a huge contribution was unexpectedly made to the legacy of EXPO, the Ukraine reinforcing the heart of the meaning, of EXPO:
reinforcing the message that wherever we are in the world, no one nation, no one person, no one prayer, should ever stand alone. X
Copyright: ANITA MENDIRATTA 2022
With each crisis that the world faces – each generation defining crisis that is put in our path to challenge us, to teach us, to unite us, we work through and push past with a pledge to “Never forget”. And yet we do.
The crisis becomes familiar. The crisis becomes acceptable.
We become bored.
COVID-19. It just seems to go on and on and on and on…
For over two years now, Mother Nature has been looking each and every one of us across the global community straight in the eyes, spending her limitless time and energy to teach us to come together as a true ‘community’,
how to work together,
how to solve a problem that has us all bonded together in fragility, in fear, in hope,
how to care.
At times it seems she has been unwilling to release her pandemic grip on the globe despite all of the global community’s remarkable speed of response honouring first signals of danger, exceptional speed and creativity in medical innovation, immense logistical strength of reach and roll-out of vaccines and essential supplies. Progress, unparalleled progress, was being made, but she was simply not impressed. It’s just goes on and on and on.
And so, people have become bored.
In parts of the world one where masks are coming off, one can feel a distinct feeling of having moved on – a dangerous acceptance that COVID 19 is simply going to be like any other flu. The fear has faded, the respect for risk has been lost. The widened lens of compassion for ‘we’ inspired by COVID is starting to pull back into a setting of ‘me’.
Yet in other parts of the world the case curve is suddenly going up. The level of audibility of conversations around a next wave of spread is going up. Threat of renewed border closures are going up.
The crisis continues, it goes on and on and on…
And then BOOM! Suddenly something else attracts attention. The world is thrown into another crisis – war in Ukraine – as one nation unleashes its muscle and might on another, stripping it a nation of its security, of its stability, of its humanity. The noise is louder, the images darker, the interest stronger.
COVID-19? The world looks away.
The world has become bored with COVID. People have forgotten the fact that it’s still with us. It might not be as loud, as dramatic (anymore), as incomprehensible. It might not be as visible, as shocking. It might not be attracting the attention it used to, but it is still going on and on and on.
We cannot afford to become bored – we cannot look away, putting ourselves in a position of not caring, be it about enduring COVID crisis, or the escalating Ukraine crisis, or the next, and the one after that, and the one after that. The emergence of new crises will go on and on and on and on.
We cannot become bored. Or we will forget.
And Mother Nature will never forgive us. x
Copyright: ANITA MENDIRATTA 2022
Airline Agent (AA): “Passport?”
Hopeful Passenger (HP): “Passport.”
HP: “Visa on arrival.”
AA: “COVID Test?”
HP: “COVID Test – right test?”
AA: “Right Test. Vaccination certification?”
HP: “Vaccination certificate”
AA: “Passenger Locator for X?”
HP: “Not needed – in transit to Y.”
AA: “You still need for X. Please scan here and make sure you fill it out before you board. Travel Insurance?”
HP: “What travel insurance? Not needed – in transit to Y.”
AA: “Still needed for X, even if in transit. Look – it says it here.”
(AA shows HP her screen)
AA: “No travel insurance?”
HP: “No, no travel insurance.”
AA: “Able to buy now?”
AA: “So no travel insurance. I’m very sorry. Boarding denied.”
HP: (Heartbroken silence)
This conversation line is not fiction. It happened. Personally. Horribly. And no doubt it will happen somewhere, to someone, again.
The countdown to travel. Pre-2020 it was a heart-lifting sleep count, a time of joyful readiness to venture out, people and places loved just a short/medium/long-haul journey away. And then came COVID – our shared world’s immense, intense challenge to travel ecosystems. And travellers.
Long gone seem the days of arriving at an airport for international travel, stepping up to the check-in desk, having passport checks rapidly completed, being handed a boarding pass, and then wished a good trip. Today the process is one where anxiety can so rapidly eclipse sweet anticipation.
An unfortunate expectation of travel in 2022? Disappointment – being prevented from travel due to:
- changes in regulations,
- changes in airline schedules,
- changes in return protocols,
Two years into the global pandemic, the travel world we once knew as a wide-reaching collection of exciting connections sadly remains a complex, ever-changing matrix of carefully and cautiously reopening of borders, reconnecting of routes, and reuniting people. While parts of the world are enjoying the restoring of domestic and international travel momentum, confidently feeling a sense of “we’ve made it”, in other parts of the world continued restrictions and tight travel regulations are faced, along with the enduring angst of “we’re not there yet…”
The required travel ‘extras’ continue to grow:
- Extra time for protocols and paperwork, at every stop,
- Extra costs for COVID tests, pre- and /or post,
- Extra patience.
Which is why continuing to be highly sensitive to the raw, rapidly changing realities of travel in 2022 is critical. Navigating through ever-changing travel headlines, stats and mobility systems is one thing – undertaking the experience of global travel is quite another. Right now, wherever a traveller’s ‘right here’ may be, it is hard, because of the innate uncertainties – uncertainties around macro, widescale travel systems:
- Borders unblocking,
- Flights flying,
- Hotels re-opening,
- Attractions re-attracting,
and micro, individual travel capability:
- Paperwork in place,
- Barriers unblocked,
- Hopes fulfilled.
At times it can so easily feel that travel confidence can only be felt when physically sitting on the plane. Until then, nothing is for certain.
Travel, international travel, is not easy. Not now.
But these travel pains are not forever.
Travel joy will be with us once again, once our travelling world has mastered living with COVID, living through the now inescapable realities of moving around the world.
In 2022, as new year optimism provides the global community with greater buoyancy, each and every one of us need to rebuild our travel muscles. Being grounded for two years has left us weak – weak in walking lengths through the airports, carrying luggage, navigating our way through small spaces, stretching our way through those that are large. This restrengthening is critical.
So too is re-strengthening of our travel hearts – finding and showing compassion that has never been seen before when see people struggling in airports with paperwork that has not been fully completed, struggling to find someone to help them make sense of the fine print that was invisible until check-in, struggling to accept their plans have been dramatically altered, struggling to keep their travel dreams alive.
We as a global industry need to dedicate 2022 to re-strengthening the mind, the body, and the heart of global Travel & Tourism as country by country, region by region, journey by journey, the world reopens to travel once more.
Never before have the words of one of our world’s most missed travellers been more true:
“Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But that’s okay. The journey changes you; it should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart, and on your body. You take something with you. Hopefully, you leave something good behind.” – Anthony Bourdain
Onward. Our world awaits. x
Copyright: ANITA MENDIRATTA 2022