The world is suddenly on its head

April 1, 2020 at 12:03 pm Leave a comment

thinkingWas it only a few weeks ago that we were living in a world that was less complicated, less scary, maybe even carefree for many of us? I remember flying off quite happily to London and Vienna in February for work related activities – roaming around, attending events, visiting various offices, taking pictures and having wonderful conversations. Even though around that time there was already talk about the virus, about not shaking hands or giving hugs, about keeping a distance, but for some reason it didn’t seem that frightening then. Yes we carried around a bottle of sanitizer in our bags and were careful about not touching unnecessary items, more conscious of hygiene but we joked about it – the Wuhan handshake, the Vulcan greeting, shaking elbows instead of hands, sanitizers and toilet paper disappearing from shelves – it all seemed like harmless banter, nothing that was really terrifying.

Fast forward a few weeks and here we are – in the midst of a lockdown, offices shut down, entire cities giving a deserted look, most of us isolated from the rest of society. Turn on any news channel and all you see and hear are statistics – how many infected, how many dead, warnings to stay indoors; visuals of people who are really ill, of medical health workers who are in protective gear from head to foot, of empty streets, restaurants, shops, cinemas, parks, malls, bazaars all barricaded. A strange silence everywhere. It seems like a totally different world from the one we knew just some weeks ago.

Work from home which had always been an alternative for some has now become a norm – Zoom, Hangout, WhatsApp, Skype and Slack have become tools that we use to connect, to collaborate, to learn, to impart, to brainstorm. Face-to-face interaction in the same physical space is no longer what we do. We are in our own spaces, connected to technology that brings us together for meetings and conversations. Each of us is finding creative ways to work with each other without being in a defined and familiar environment.

The routines we were used to – getting up early, showering and changing, having early breakfasts and heading out in our modes of transport to schools, work places, meetings, having a gossip over a cup of tea or coffee at work, sharing and tweaking projects, brainstorming on a white board, answering enquiries from others within the same space, going down to the supermarket, taking a lunch break, heading out in the evening for an event or to meet friends or playing table tennis before heading home. Full days of activities when we knew what we had to do at certain times of the day. Always on the move. But no more! All that has come to a halt. Everything is on its head.

The first few days of the lockdown I woke up at the normal time and didn’t know what to do with myself. What was the point of showering and changing since there was nowhere to go. I felt a little lost without my routine. I missed all of it – the rushed schedule, the chaos, the activities, the noise, the interaction, the conversations, even the coffee and the stress. My brain refused to function under these new conditions because it just didn’t know how to.

The team and I had already worked out a WFH routine even before the lockdown and had started implementing it but I was still going into the office then. Now I was not. It was disconcerting. It took a while to tune myself to the new realities. I understood that unless I worked out a routine I was going into a “lost” mode which I would find it difficult to come out of. The new routine was much like the old one with a few tweaks – Wake up, shower, change, have breakfast, medicines and then settle down into a comfortable but convenient workspace. Start working with the team, take my calls, daily calls with my siblings, official zoom meetings, lunch, attend and arrange online sessions, continue to work with the team. Break at 5 or 6, watch a movie or two, have coffee or green tea, go for a walk in the garden. Check in on the news channels. Restrict that to twice a day so as not to get completely traumatized.

This new routine seems to be working although the cheer has disappeared. There is nothing but uncertainty, doom and gloom, silence, lack of sufficient physical activity. What helps a little is trying to support daily wage workers and those who are suffering through engagement and financial support to organizations who are working on the ground, providing logistical help, food, medicines, advice. I am told that because of my pre-existing conditions and age, I should refrain from any volunteering which involves distribution or contact with large numbers of people. I am usually a very stubborn person but this time I am listening. I am trying to be sensible. It is such a different time. God help us all to get through it. We all know that the last few weeks have changed the world forever.

Entry filed under: Posts.

Memories are what keep us going No-one can ever replace her

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