The Covid-19 pandemic has literally brought life to a standstill. The simple things we took for granted , as part of our everyday life, are now suddenly non-existential. For example – maids, cooks and nannies, a lifeline for most working couples. The list can be endless – going to the gym for a workout, a stroll in a park, a movie at a cinema hall, a dinner at a restaurant, live sports, trekking. It also makes one pause and realize the value of what we are missing and more importantly, the value of the people associated with our support system.
I was not born during the emergency of 1975, but when I spoke to a few people who have witnessed the Emergency, the current lockdown has quite a few similarities in terms of the external environment. There is mass restriction of people movement, only essential services are allowed to operate, hoarding of essential items etc. To me, the most humbling experience has been to appreciate the value of freedom. If a lockdown is making me feel so restless and confined, imagine the plight of our forefathers who had to endure this and much more trying to fight for a free country.
While everyone has the same twenty four hours, different people have reacted differently. On the one extreme, there are a few Whatsapp experts, who spend majority of their time, forwarding/commenting about every link they receive (verified/unverified, true/fake) about the situation and unknowingly, continue to widen the net of creating a “socially depressing digital environment”. The talk is primarily about the increasing deaths, recession, job cuts, stock market crashes etc. Yes, it is important to be pragmatic and be in touch with current reality and be aware of what’s happening around you. But to make that the majority part of your daily social media conversations is altogether different. The boundaries between pessimism and pragmatism become blurred for this category of people.
On the other hand, there are quite a few passionate people with a bias for positive action. These folks are using this opportunity to try and find ways of helping out others in whatever way they can – mobilize resources, funds , set up helplines or spread awareness , help create parallel supply chains so that the poorest of the poor can survive this crisis. Let’s call them the “Hustlers”.
In the middle, there is a large segment which doesn’t fit in either of the two scenarios and has been caught off-guard with this storm that they are just about managing their day-to-day life. Let’s call them the “Task-executors”. Daily chores, piled up work, kids at home, businesses to manage, teams to handle, ensure that these folks do not have much space to brood about the macro-economic scenario or actively participate in relief activities.
For a few, life is “Business as Usual”. These folks have made alternate arrangements to ensure that there is minimal disruption and the job continues to get done as usual.
There is another category of people, who are using this time to positively recharge themselves. I will call them “Being alternately productive”. For these folks, life traditionally has been hectic due to commutes and long working hours. Some of these folks are using this time to get back to activities/hobbies like cooking, reading, sketching.writing etc. Some are learning new skills online
A few belong to the “Just chill” category. They have converted the lockdown as a golden opportunity to binge watch some or the other shows , movies or play online games – anything that takes them away and transport them to a different universe.
Depending on where a majority of your time goes, you can self-categorize yourself into any of the above categories. A lot of people actually end up doing everything mentioned above in different proportions. Also, there will be overlaps amongst categories. Depending on your age, income, kind of work you do, whether you are an employee , employer or policy maker and your frame of mind, the anxiety, happiness and stress levels differ.
Keep in mind that these categories are applicable only to middle-class folks who are in a position to read this blog. There’s a significant majority of our population in the “struggle for survival” category.
There is another unique category of people – all those whose occupations come under the essential services category (directly or indirectly). For these “superheroes”, the job has to be done – pandemic or otherwise – because their actions have a bearing on the basic survival of the larger population. These are the healthcare professionals, people working in police, logistics, security, groceries, banks, etc. These superheroes don’t have the luxury of “Work from Home”. These folks are working for the greater good without a choice.
These are unprecedented times and little did anyone imagine that the entire world could be caught off-guard not by a world war but by an invisible virus. Amidst all this, one suddenly realizes that nature is a great leveller. The birds seem to be happy now. The rivers look cleaner. Air quality has improved across the world. Everything is not as gloomy as it seems.
Which category do you belong to? How are you keeping yourself occupied? How are you trying to stay positive? Let me know your thoughts. I oscillate between few of the categories and can see superheroes all around me.