Desperate to return to the era when they could be socially distant among other people, hundreds of Luxembourg City residents are breaking the lockdown order to congregate in public spaces and totally ignore each other.
The most popular meeting spots are large open areas such as forests and fields where dozens of people gather and, keeping a safe distance, offer the others no recognition whatsoever.
Betina Moltze says she has been joining one such group in a forest near Bridel every morning around 8 o’clock. Everyone stands three or four meters apart from each other, wordlessly looking at their smartphones or picking at their fingernails.
“I used to take the bus to work, and I’d see the same people at the bus stop every morning,” she said. “No one ever spoke. I miss that so much.”
Not all residents think that joining such secret meet-ups in the forest a good idea, however. Some firmly believe that silent gatherings in the city are better for fulfilling their needs.
One man, who calls himself Kenneth, says that every evening, he and others organize solitary city walks during which they look away as they pass each other.
“We all want the same thing, and that’s to feel unseen in public,” he said. “I know we’re not supposed to be doing this, but I desperately want to remember how it used to feel to walk down the sidewalk and have people take no notice of me.”
“Not because they had to, because they wanted to,” he added.
Kenneth says it feels good to be a member of such a community, even if he doesn’t know what the other members look like or what their names are because they never make eye contact or speak.
“Just like in the good old, pre-pandemic days,” he said. “Ah, sweet nostalgia.”
Originally published by RTL Today on April 16, 2020