By Sharad Chaturvedi,
A passionate Media Marketing professional, describes his experience from one of the worst-hit cities in India.
I was sitting on my study to pen down my thoughts on ‘how has life been for me during the lockdown?’. ‘All is well’ was my first thought. But was everything really well? This question compelled me to think a little harder.
The world was hit by a lethal Pandemic of #COVID 19, a black swan (i.e. a phenomenon that occurs even though people think it’s impossible). This changed everything, I mean ‘everything’. It changed human behaviour at both, macro and micro levels very rapidly. It compelled us to look at the way we lived our lives and how we made conscious choices in every domain of our existence.
On 24th March 2020, the Government of India under Prime Minister Narendra Modi ordered a nationwide #lockdown for 21 days (i.e. From 12 AM on 25th March to 14th April 2020), limiting movement of the entire 1.3 billion population of India as a preventive measure to contain the spread of #coronavirus.
Most of us, went through a ‘S-A-R-A-H’ Moment. Well, it is not a fictitious character from a Hollywood or Bollywood movie, but rather an acronym used to define our state of mind when any major change occurs in our life. It stands for Shock, Anger, Resistance, Acceptance, and Healing/Hope.
Learning to Think, Eat, Pray ‘Inside the Box’.
‘Thinking outside the box’ was a mindset until the pandemic became a living entity around us. We were put in a ‘shocking‘ war-like situation, the only thing we knew ‘who’ the enemy was but did not know ‘where’ it was coming from. It brought a hell lot of changes and the biggest one was the practice of ‘sanitizing’. Everything and everyone was sanitized. While the world around us was undergoing changes, we started adapting ourselves to it as well.
I wonder often why the news wasn’t sanitized. All the news across platforms had a singular fabric running through it, that raised many questions that went unanswered and scared us. We were exposed to messages of ‘Corona Virus’ by the second. The media decibel on this ‘Topic’, was so high that it caught onto almost everyone’s attention in the country, in a crystal-clear manner. The concept of being ‘super-concerned of the virus’ had been understood even by my 6-year-old son, Shaurya, who hesitated to do things thinking it would harm him. He would often be worried about me, as I would step down to buy groceries or essentials items. He obviously came from a space of concern for his father, however it had inflicted the emotion of ‘fear’ in him, faster than we realized. I am sure this experience would be echoed in many homes. However, I knew we had quickly adapted to another mindset, this one was called ‘Think, Eat, Pray Inside the Box’.
My wife, Astha, had laid strict protocols for everyone who would step out of the house. I wished every time I stepped out of the house, there should have been a gadget that would ‘Auto Sanitize’ me in seconds. I often said to myself, “Can’t there be an app or tech toy to deal with this?” (I also firmly believe that there will be a high-tech sanitizing solution introduced soon that would give us 100% CORONA KILL feature, and I hope it would not be ‘MADE IN CHINA’.) But, after my 5-sec thought bubble burst, I would go through a 30-minute-long ordeal of sanitizing myself. I knew ‘sanitizing’ had made a mainstay in my life, but ‘All Was Well’.
Unlocking life in the Lockdown
Our life changed in a snap. This caused our life to be examined and rethought at all levels. We had to rethink about the safety of our lives and customize our day-to day activities. This caused a lot of anger amongst all of us. The news channels did its best to cover the length, breadth, and depth on the issue of the global pandemic. Social media outran, outshouted, and outwitted it. We had consumerized a highly sensitive health issue and given it all forms of emotion. We had the words ‘COVID 19’ & ‘Corona Virus’ oozing out of our ears. News channels even gave it a gory face, visualizing it like a ‘demon virus’ that was thirsty for blood. Very few messages came in that were towards the betterment or building empathy towards the patients, and gave an unclear picture of the overall situation. Hated the feeling of succumbing to this situation but, ‘All Was Well’.
Body becoming an ‘Immunity Reservoir’
Building immunity to fight COVID 19 became a pivotal task. We took medication to boost our immunity. We had ordered and stocked medicines by dozens. ‘Panic buying’ emerged as a new shopping behaviour. Medicines were equivalent to buying pop-corns, candies & cola pops. In fact, the medical shops ran out of some medicines in the first month of the pandemic, as the supply froze. People resorted to alternate medicines from the streams of Ayurveda (Giloy & Ashwagandha) and Homeopathy (Arsenic Alb) instead of just relying on Allopathy (Zinc, Vitamin C & Multi-vitamins). After consuming these medicines our bodies had become a ‘reservoir of immunity’. I prayed to god every single day to give us a cure for the deadly virus. But I guess God had isolated himself too.
Everyone in the hope economy started focusing on staying super healthy. Physically visiting a Doctor as a concept was unsupported, as visiting a hospital would exponentially increase the chances to be infected by the deadly virus. Online consultation with the Doctors was the new way to seek medical advice.
Make way for the ‘Wannabe Fitness Enthusiasts’
While lot of people resorted to staying indoor, we also saw an advent of ‘new breed of fitness enthusiasts’, who suddenly developed an urge of becoming Greek Gods and Eugene Kipchoge (A Marathon Champion) during the lockdown. While we tried to keep our exercise regimes under check, they developed newer habits of walking, running and also invented new outdoor exercise regime with no sense of practicing basic protocols defined by the W.H.O. They were either suddenly more disciplined than an Olympian and were working toward achieving their physical goals or ridiculously naive to not understand the strict warnings issued by the Government.
At around mid-April, we also looked at various avenues to invest our time wisely. Some of us resorted to e-learning courses / tutorials to enhance our skills to become more productive. I can’t forget the feeling of pride experienced after cooking Mughlai and Chinese delicacies for my family. Oh! I must say it was priceless. We also opted out to help the frontline staff by feeding them, homemade food, while they ensured to perform their duties. Some of my friends also started cooking and selling tasty delights to help their cooks make extra Moolahs! We all hoped to become better versions of ourselves by doing so. Well cooking, cleaning, and communication brought us together.
Practices of meditation, yoga, home workouts, keeping ourselves busy, and with an unshakable positive attitude, we had achieved a peaceful state of mind during this arduous time of lockdown.
Joining the B.J.P. Club
During the lockdown things changed our perception about the maids forever. With every swipe we took to clean the dust, we remembered her name as if she was ‘The goddess of comfort’. Thanks to the extension of the lockdown, we all had become the premium members of the B.J.P. Club. This ain’t the ruling political party being referred to, this club had practical implications in life, it was called ‘Bartan, Jhadu & Pocha club’. This no-frills club came with long hours of gruelling physical labour to clean the house every day for 3 months. This club membership also helped you uncover the secrets of handling aches and pains in the evening. This momentary pain would be relieved when we would happily contribute by giving financial aid to the families of our helping staff and would call to check on them periodically about their well-being. The value of their service has been often undermined by our society at large. But for our family, the respect for them had shot up for sure.
As a society, we saw benchmarks being created in cultivating new relationships. We went beyond the confines of our homes and had started thinking and caring more about the frontline staff. The doctors, the Police, the Traffic Police, the Nurses, the Shopkeepers (Owning a Kirana Store), the Bankers, the Reporters, and the Vegetable Vendors, the Security Guards and many more extraordinary humans – who put their lives on the line to give us a comfortable life. ‘Service’ by these frontline workers deserves a huge round of applause.
We also need to acknowledge the support shown by our family members who embraced the challenges without uttering a word. I finally understood what it takes to keep a home up & running.
The New Lifeline
The ‘Internet’ played a vital role in making friends & family bind together like glue, in these times of separation. It was like ‘oxygen’ in the lockdown. We were logged into life. Practices of e-chatting, e-meeting, e-parties & e-celebrations were the new ways to socialize. Though this enabled us to gather our wits, did we pull ourselves into the future too early? No one can say that for sure. As time went by, we all emerged as winners, who had won ourselves a new way of living our lives. But we had lost a very important part of our lives – this part symbolized love, care, happiness, grief, respect, celebration, and many other varied emotions. We had lost, the assuring confidence in ‘The Human Touch’.
Every one of us reading this will somewhere resonate or connect with these S-A-R-A-H moments and will have their versions to share. As of today, we are crawling out of the ‘Unlock 2.0’ stage, however, with hope and faith, we emerge and continue to live life around the Virus. We hope that the antidote to the Pandemic is introduced soon – so that ‘All can finally be Well’.
The following quote summarises the essence of our current existence:
When we face difficult times, we need to know that challenges are not sent to destroy you. They are sent to promote, increase, and strengthen you.
More about the Author
Sharad Chaturvedi is a passionate Media Marketing Professional, working for one of the leading media networks and lives in Mumbai, India.
Apart from oscillating between life & work, he is a Free Thinker, an Ideator, a Lifelong Learner, a Foodie and loves sipping on a cup of ‘Masala Chai’.
*This is a personal article. Any views or opinions represented in this article are personal and belong solely to him and does not represent those people, institutions or organizations that the writer would be associated within a professional or personal capacity.
If you wish to publish your Blog or Video on your personal experiences & journey so far during the #COVID 19 pandemic, please submit the same to firstname.lastname@example.org along with your name, profile picture in jpeg format, brief profile and email id (latter 3 are optional). The blog will be published along with your name and credentials, as per your preference.