At five o'clock this morning, all eyes were on the new star in town. The paps gathered as Ms Celebrity rolled out of the gates and was wheeled into Pune airport. As she disembarked the vehicle and rolled through the departure gates of Pune airport, onlookers swore she waved back at the paps, gathered around to catch her 'airport look'. After much internal debate, we've come to the conclusion that the wave back was just a fan theory — she is, after all, just a truckload of Covishield, the Serum Institute Of India-produced coronavirus vaccine.
But the frenzy is nothing less.
There was a puja, with the breaking of coconuts and the whole shazam, before the coveted cargo was dispersed. Normally, the mahurat puja of a big-ticket film will show you a scene like this. (Photo: ANI)
This morning, three temperature-controlled trucks left the Serum Institute of India, at 5 am, and then left Pune for Delhi and 12 other cities, four days ahead of the nationwide inoculation drive against Covid-19. But before the coveted cargo was dispersed, there was a puja, with the breaking of coconuts and the whole shazam. Normally, the mahurat puja of a big-ticket film will show you a scene like this. But this time, it wasn't Akshay Kumar or Shah Rukh Khan at the centre — it was a consignment of 478 boxes of the vaccines, each box weighing 32 kg.
Within hours, a consignment landed in Delhi, and then in Kolkata, and then in Bengaluru. Nine flights of Air India, SpiceJet and IndiGo Airlines carried 56.5 lakh doses of Covishield to Delhi, Chennai, Kolkata, Guwahati, Shillong, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, Vijayawada, Bhubaneswar, Patna, Bengaluru, Lucknow and Chandigarh, confirms Civil Aviation minister Hardeep Puri.
Civil aviation sector launches yet another momentous mission.Vaccine movement starts. First two flights operated by @flyspicejet & @goairlinesindia from Pune to Delhi & Chennai have taken off. pic.twitter.com/uo11S4OvqK— Hardeep Singh Puri (@HardeepSPuri) January 12, 2021
Like Hansel and Gretel's trail of breadcrumbs, Twitter's live-tweet trail will inform you exactly where the vaccine has been and where it is headed. In case you want to break into a flash mob as it lands.
The vaccine lands in Delhi. (Photo: Twitter/ @ShivAroor)
So deafening is the buzz around this delivery that we've (almost) ceremoniously overlooked another one — baby Virushka. Yikes! The stork will not be stoked.
Surreal as it may seem, the last time we monitored someone's flight schedule, departure and arrival so closely was when Tiger Shroff and Disha Patani jetted off to the Maldives. Or Sidharth Malhotra and Kiara Advani after that. Granted that fashion mags would vouch for their airport looks any day; the country right now doesn't care if Disha opted for athleisure or couture. They're watching, with bated breath, as the cellophane-wrapped boxes of the new do-boond zindagi ke are being downloaded.
Now, India likes to stay in a constant frenzied state, but the far West is no different in this aspect. When UK granny Margaret Keenan became the first person in the world to receive the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine, she called it the "best early birthday present". Of course, if Hrithik Roshan released a film closer to this writer's birthday, she'd feel the same way!
Or when nurse Sandra Lindsay offered to be the first person in the US to be vaccinated for Covid-19, little did she know that New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo would be watching her taking the shot and clapping for her.
But celebrities have it difficult sometimes. For every fan cheering for their favourite star, there are those who boo them for just about anything. In the USA, about 40 per cent frontline workers in Los Angeles county and 60 per cent of care-home workers in Ohio have refused to take the vaccine. Does it not remind you of 'Boycott Chhapaak' or something to that effect when you hear these? Oh well, but what can you do? Negative publicity is still publicity, right?
Back home, however, the frenzy is far from dead. In fact, consider this the trailer of a blockbuster set to deliver in four days. Brace yourself for a grand opening on January 16. Will we wait for box-office numbers like statistics being thrown at us once the vaccination process starts? You bet.