By Bhuvaneswari Ravindran
COVID-19 effect: We seem to be living in an entirely different world, where everybody seems to eye everything, may be with suspicion, whether the inanimate things that reach us or human beings themselves crossing our thresholds. Yes, the pandemic COVID 19 has coaxed us all into the secluded confined space of our homes. We have become more disciplined these days, but is this actually the ideal way in which we are expected to continue to live a healthy life? Without socialising, finding time to do our things leisurely and systematically, spending time with our own family and taking care of ourselves, can we say, sort of self-centred?
Initially we were in a sort of disbelief, shock and denial mode. It was difficult to fathom how in these modern times, a virus which emerged in Wuhan, could take such a deadly turn spreading to other parts of the world causing wide ramifications even in developed European countries, US etc. Though we were all taken aback and angered when the news broke raising a doubt about its being a man made calamity, as always, wisdom prevailed and we moved on, since it was time for action and caution. In these five months, all of us had to slowly adjust to the new life. Yes, we are going to move to acceptance mode and reconciled to live with COVID just like different versions of flu.
In those initial days, our buzz word was “Stay Home – Stay Safe” and “Break the Chain”. We derived energy being one with all, clapping hands to honour the selfless soldiers risking their lives, and lighting of lamps. The reverberation of the claps and sounds in an otherwise very silent locality of ours was awesome. That night it left a lump in the throat when we saw a neighbour of ours who stayed alone, a few houses away from ours, waving a torch at us and we reciprocated.
COVID-19: Sea change in attitude
When the lock down was announced, our main worry was about meeting our day to day needs. But surprisingly, we noticed a sea change in attitude all round, with most of the Kirana shops nearby and even the bigger ones vying with each other offering home delivery with shops giving the Digital India concept a big boost by accepting payments through Paytm, Google Pay and bank transfers. Even if you choose to pick up, like Zero Contact Pizza delivery, grocery lists are sent on WhatsApp, the shopkeeper keeps the stuff in your car boot or back seat. As icing on the cake, the digital payment makes it absolute zero contact. Then, the online shopping sites like Amazon, Flipkart etc. also resumed their operations, making things still better.
Attitudes have changed so much so that once it really amused me to see the mechanic rushing down to our car to take my sewing machine for repairs and similarly brought it down once the repair was done. We can see several other positive things happening like all of us, including men, learning to double up as cooks, maids, gardeners and even barbers, plumbers and electricians.
Be ourselves calm and positive, help others also in being so:
The situation was indeed most painful for the poor, particularly daily wagers, and for many stranded guest workers having had to struggle to get home or those families facing the wrath of the virus itself. The rising number of depression cases and suicides are really alarming. Ideally, the best way to cope with the situation is to start counting the blessings and try to look at the situation from a positive perspective – turning the crisis into opportunities, taking up things which we love and always wanted to do. We on our part, can spread some cheer and positive energy by keeping in touch with all our friends, relatives and acquaintances. Here, social media apps like WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram, Blogs etc. are already playing a big role. Organisations and even families are already learning to do group chats, video calls, WEBINARS using various platforms.
We know this virus is here to stay, we can only live with it, following protocols or SOPs. For me, there was no looking back, plunging deep into activities like gardening, writing blogs, experimenting with new recipes, watching movies, calling up contacts and keeping a part of the day for cleaning up so much unwanted stuff piled up in the house. From the stages of shock to reconciliation, my transformation was pretty quick, I should say.
COVID-19: Positive impact
On a positive note, the beautiful blooms of flowers and fruits/vegetables in my garden which have increased considerably with more attention and the constant chattering/chirping of different types of birds like crows, Treepies (Olenjali), myna, Cuckoo and sparrows all around help me keep my mood buoyant. The variety and number of birds which come to feed on the biscuits I offer are increasing. Sometimes I feel as though they are now mocking us saying, we are as free as ever, with no containment zones, whereas you are the ones now caged. Well, let us all keep our fingers crossed and pray that this pandemic retraces its steps and vanishes into thin air very soon, just as it entered our lives. Meanwhile, let only the best of the times that we spent indoors remain in our memories.
The author is former Director (Retd.), Ministry of Home Affairs, New Delhi, was Formerly Joint Development Commissioner (Special Economic Zones), CSEZ. Views expressed are the author’s own.