By Arré Bench Mar. 22, 2020
Mumbai was eerily quiet, looking like the set of I Am Legend. In Delhi and Bangalore, birds were seen reclaiming open spaces. And on Twitter, most of the noise was made by antakshari players.
Sunday, March 22 is going to be remembered as the first time India, the second-most populated nation on Earth, wore a deserted look. The janata curfew announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been wholeheartedly embraced by most parts of the country, making for some unusual, never-seen-before visuals.
Marine Drive in Mumbai today. Clear blue sky, calm waters. pic.twitter.com/fPFJ4RsXkB
— Minhaz Merchant (@MinhazMerchant) March 22, 2020
That is Marine Drive, possibly Mumbai’s most iconic road, looking like the set of I Am Legend. And similar scenes are unfolding across the country, like this one, where the human crowd at New Delhi’s Connaught Place have been replaced by an avian one.
Delhi: A flock of pigeons gather in Connaught Place area, as people restrict their movement in the national capital amid #JantaCurfew today announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. pic.twitter.com/axyxt8fUxX
— ANI (@ANI) March 22, 2020
In the capital, policemen on duty were handing out roses to everyone with the “janta nahi mera baap kaun hai” attitude – basically those who were defying the curfew. “Please stay at home… please support us,” Delhi Police urged citizens.
We are on the roads for your safety.
Please stay at Home!!
Policemen giving flowers to motorists requesting them to stay at home.
— DCP New Delhi (@DCPNewDelhi) March 22, 2020
Even India’s biggest cities have shut down, and the people sitting at home are coming up with unique ways to cope with their isolation, like Union Minister Smriti Irani, who has kickstarted what might be history’s first-ever game of antakshari on Twitter.
We are a 130 crore family so tag karna mushkil hai ki next kaun gaana uthayega isiliye sing / tweet a song coz ye apni marzi wala #TwitterAntakshari hai ..
— Smriti Z Irani (@smritiirani) March 22, 2020
Karan Johar, arguably the most filmy Indian, was quick to join in. Antakshari, he said, is his favourite “time pass” activity.
Helloji! Antakshari is my favourite time pass activity! To main Zaroor contribute karna chahoonga…with my favourite song…
Lag ja gale …ke phir ye haseen raat ho na ho…Shayad phir is janam mein mulakat ho na ho……ab aapki bari!!!! https://t.co/vklGuuVDdP
— Karan Johar (@karanjohar) March 22, 2020
Lag jaa gale? Really, Karan. Not the most apt song for the moment.
Meanwhile, the expected flurry of memes and jokes also did the rounds.
When you realize your lifestyle is called “Janta Curfew” pic.twitter.com/aSpiSyuQV6
— Sagar (@sagarcasm) March 19, 2020
Sunday 5 pm I will walk down my colony with hands raised accepting all the applause.
— Manu Joseph (@manujosephsan) March 19, 2020
— Quarantined Chikna (@Madan_Chikna) March 19, 2020
Others were happy to see how a day without human activity allowed nature room to breathe. Mumbaikars were thrilled that they could hear birds chirping, in Bangalore peacocks took to the roads, if this Twitter user is to be believed.
— Basalelu | Vote For Glass| (@BasaleluPspk) March 22, 2020
Never figured there were so many birds and squirrels in the neighborhood.
— Manu Pubby (@manupubby) March 22, 2020
But predictably, some wanted to make the best of this newfound space.
@CMOMaharashtra @PMOIndia @MumbaiPolice @CPMumbaiPolice
People in my locality are playing cricket not following any safety measures. There are more people around who are not visible in the video. Please do the needful.
This is behind Mantri Park, Goregaon East. pic.twitter.com/K5xvwV7QEO
— Shaunak (@shaunbhowmick) March 22, 2020
Some idiots are playing cricket at Shankarwadi, Behind Railwaymen Apna Ghar Society, Jogeshwari E, Mumbai 60, during #JantaCurfew instead of staying inside their homes.
— Nisarg Mehta (@Nisarg_M_Mehta) March 22, 2020
If there was ever a contest for Most Made-in-India Headline Ever, it would go to “Locals Risk Coronavirus to Play Cricket on Empty Roads Due to Janata Curfew”.