The Corona Diaries Digest March 2020–August 2021

Mazen Kerbaj

On March 13, 2020, the city of Berlin announced its first lockdown to fight the Covid-19 pandemic. Sensing the beginning of something that is going to last, I started The Corona Diaries on that morning. This first period was so rich in discoveries that I cannot look at it today without a feeling of nostalgia; I was – we were all – adapting to the novelty of the situation and, even though I had some worries about how things will go, I had the strong conviction of living something exceptional: the first globalised event where everyone in the world was fighting the same problem in the same time while knowing that everyone else in the world was doing so too.

After that came the first return to normal in July 2020, where we had to get used again to life with other human beings. Going out and seeing people in the streets felt like we were back on earth after a long interstellar voyage. I remember the social awkwardness I felt when I met some friends for real. I remember also the first concert I played for a real audience (of ten), and how I suddenly realised that my trumpet is potentially a very dangerous instrument (I have a horrible self-awareness when I play ever since). I remember being in a restaurant again, in an exhibition again, on the road again, in a train again, in the air again… until there was nothing to remember again.

When the second wave came in the fall of 2020, followed by the second lockdown from October 2020 to May 2021, I was still quite happy with the idea of being home and working on projects I would have never done in normal times. But by that time we had all finally adapted to the new situation; this meant that our daily schedules were again as full as before: work, old projects to finish, new projects to start, deadlines to meet, emails to answer, messages, phone calls, online meetings, etc. It was life like before, but locked at home. The second return to normal in May 2021 had a kind of déjà vu. The novelty was totally gone, and we enjoyed our relative freedom rather ordinarily. Today we hear news of new Covid-19 variants around the world, of double-vaccinated people getting infected, of countries imposing new lockdowns, and we wonder how will the next fall look like. By now we are ready for everything I suppose.

I work much less on The Corona Diaries since summer 2020; the sense of urgency slowly disappeared and we all adapted our lives to a new seasonal cycle. I try to keep track of the evolution of the situation and of my grasping of it, but I actually feel that The Corona Diaries could become the title of all my diaries from March 2020 onwards. I feel that the third millennium started for real with the Covid-19 pandemic, as much as the 20th century started with World War I.

The Corona Diaries Digest March 2020–August 2021