I went to a convocation in person after a year and a pandemic. This is what I realised 

While the world is getting back to the old normal, events are slowly getting back on their feet. We attended an in-person convocation to find out how things have changed or not
Image for representational purpose only | Pic: Edex Live
Image for representational purpose only | Pic: Edex Live

While it might feel like physical events are a thing of the past, thanks to the Coronavirus pandemic, it actually might not be the case for much longer. For instance, I was quite surprised when I was invited to attend a 'physical' convocation at one of Chennai's leading science and technology institutes. At first, I did not believe it. I thought they were inviting me to a Zoom meeting or at least to something a lot more virtual. But no, turns out, we are indeed getting back to the old normal (What happened to the new normal? Secretly weeping inside). Anyway, let's get to the event.

Truth be told, the college authorities though tried their best to keep COVID-19 protocols in place while the crowd seemed to be more carefree. Our temperature was checked at the main gate, sanitisers and masks were also being provided to every guest. Well, a lot of attendees looked pretty comfortable without the masks (the one with maks pulled down to cover the chin, those with one string of the mask attached to one of their ears — I saw a lot of those too).

Upon reaching the campus, we were taken to an outdoor seating area where food was being served to the attendees. Although chairs were kept at a six feet distance (social distancing and all, you know), people seemed to be back in the old days. We were served lunch in eco-friendly, paper plates that were immediately discarded after we were done eating. But 50 per cent of the people serving the food did not have their masks on. 

When I finally entered the convention centre where the convocation was set to be held, there were at least 150 people including students, their parents and other guests. While most of the students followed protocol and sat with one seat gap between themselves, we cannot really say the same about the audience — parents, faculty, esteemed guests and other staff at the institute. There were two rows in front of the stage segregated for the media. Most of us sat keeping social distancing in mind.

When it started I realised it was not a completely physical convocation — the Chancellor spoke to us through a live stream feed which was being recorded for others to watch on Zoom. Not all students who graduated were present either, only about 70 of them were allowed to come and collect their degrees in person. It was evident that students were quite excited to be at an almost physical convocation after a long and tiring year.

After the convocation was over, we were asked to step out for a media interaction with the chief guest and the faculty members. I must say, I had given up all hope by then. There was no social distancing when it came to camera persons, reporters, photographers who hurdled in front of speakers to get the best view. Responding to a question about how students are coping with not being on campus, the faculty mentioned that campus interviews have been ongoing, internships are being provided too. Well, everything seems to be getting back to the old normal but maybe a wee bit of precaution could be helpful. 

After all, it's going to be months before any of us can get that vaccination. 

Opinions of the author are completely personal.

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