That Dark Cloud with the Silver Streak!
A coin has two sides must be the most clichéd and widely used term in the whole wide world. Maybe even beyond. Just like, I love you, and I am sorry. And I totally detest all the three. I mean, be a little creative, mate, a little more sensitive to the person and situation at hand! But then, here I am, overcoming my inherent distaste for the term and not being able to come up with anything better that can encapsulate what I must share here. I am sorry! And I totally love you for understanding my predicament!
This crisis called the Corona Virus is on a scale that has been and will continue to reorder and restructure society in the most dramatic ways, for better or for worse. Is it just a medical pandemic situation that is making people fall ill and taking lives of so many others across the globe? It is no more a world where we can hug our loved ones, shakes hands with those we can’t hug, or sit close to one another in that all enveloping feeling of solace and belongingness. It is now a world where we can touch no one freely, a world where being with other people could prove fatal to us, where it is risky to even breathe in the same air in which someone else is breathing. Even the air-conditioned paradise called home might be perilous. Hanging out with friends or family is a memory of the past. And everyone far and wide is aware of the fact. How fast this awareness fades into oblivion is different for different people, but one thing I is for sure, this awareness can never be eradicated completely. It would probably be incorporated into our very nature to recoil from shaking hands or even touching our face. Fear of succumbing to this serious endemic could terrify us forever about hugging our close ones. And probably each one of us would become a hygiene freak, washing our hands for 20 seconds every other time.
That brings us to the other gigantically adverse effect of this global pandemic that could freak out the most expertly informed and skilled financial moguls: the financial crisis that is reshaping the world in indelible ways and has completely and devastatingly tossed around the social, political, religious, economic and financial structures and designs in continents across the globe. The world’s most powerful economies, UK, US, China, Germany, France, Italy, Japan, and many others are on the edge of collapse. Stock markets have crashed, and oil prices have dropped drastically in the most difficult economic situation that the world has faced since World War II. It a catastrophic, to say the least.
It is so easy to watch the news day in and day out and get more and more depressed each day. Or….
As an air passenger you must have flown through these big dark clouds that toss and turn your plane around like we whisk the batter for a cake. Turbulence is terrifying; and that feeling of “Oh God! We are not going to survive this one!” makes even the most unholy of us pray. Every second feels like an hour. We think of our loved ones and how we misused time over unnecessary things and not spent it with the former. Our entire lives flash before our eyes. We regret the bad memories and recollect the cherished ones, because this is it! The end!
But we don’t crash, do we? At least I haven’t, since I am writing this, and neither have you, who is reading it. Because, we fly through the turbulence to clearer skies ahead. A sky which is bluer and clearer than any sky we have ever seen before. And we thank God that we are alive and kicking, and we would be going home to hug our loved ones again.
The current pandemic situation is one such turbulent cloud. And we are going to sail through it to a clearer world ahead.
We have been so busy keening over the atrocities wreaked by Covid 19 that we have been blind to a lot of things that are happening that our making our lives more worthwhile.
Wake up in the morning. And instead of mooning over the depressing pages of the day’s newspapers, go out and look at the sky. Isn’t it bluer than ever? Ever seen such billowy tufts of cottony white clouds? Ever witnessed so many birds soaring above, their wings and their chirps resonating across the skies, replacing the constantly repeating drones of air crafts flying overhead, and the blaring horns of cars? The air we are breathing feels so much fresher. The grass looks greener, the leaves resplendently green on the trees, the flowers in full bloom, the water bodies crystal clear. Even our very own Ma Ganga who has been sullying herself washing our sins, boasts clear waters. Fact check: NASA satellites have documented significant reductions in air pollution—20-30% in many cases—in major cities around the world.
Obviously, the pandemic has had a profound effect on life, forcing the biggest lockdown in history with people all over the world advised to stay indoors. It is frustrating, irritating, and monotonous. But an unintended consequence of the lockdown has been a fall in the number of deaths reported across the globe because of a huge plummeting in road fatalities and fewer crimes being committed. Even among regions that have the highest levels of violence outside a war zone, fewer people are being killed and fewer robberies are taking place.
Good hygiene is no longer just a good habit incorporated into us since childhood, but it is what we need for our very survival. Times have changed drastically, and it is no longer just the women who are hygiene freaks; even men have become meticulous about washing hands and wearing masks. You see, as social animals, we are engineered to emote and connect with people around, and that can never change. But these recent times have made us all aware of how to do that more hygienically.
Namaste is just no more a part of the Indian ethos; even Donald Trump prefers it now to his customary handshake. And all over the world, we would always cover our mouths when we cough, and sanitize our hands after touching anything, because now we are highly aware of the dangers that can befall us if we don’t. The best part is, so many ailments and diseases can be avoided by being clean and hygienic always.
This quarantine has not just evolved us to a cleaner self but has also sharpened our innovative skills. I mean, we all know, lockdown is boring, monotonous, frustrating. And we have been, with stoic perseverance, been exploring our minds and racking our brains for ideas, hacks, tips, and tricks to beat the lockdown blues. (And just think how much we are now missing those constantly appearing urgent jobs on our office desks. Then we used the choicest expletives to express our anguish, and now we crave to be back there!) And therefore, organisations across the world are innovating products and service ranges that enable us to stay engaged in entertaining ways and productive ways. Work from home is the new mantra, for students and professionals alike, with online tools and software helping to make this shift to digital classrooms and virtual office spaces seamless and easy. And since organisations cannot just surrender to the times and stop functioning altogether, they are innovating ultimate ideas to attract and sustain both their customers and employees. From self-diagnosis bots to automated emergency protocols, this trend has also paved the way to touchless biometric attendance systems, time tracking, and other collaborative tools that can essentially step in and be an alternative to the existing work flow to run organisations virtually. You see, innovation is nothing but an answer to a demand and each day we are coming up with new innovations in work and entertainment that are totally taking the world by storm and surprising the hell out of our own selves. Moreover, this has also resulted in team workers trusting each other, and organisations developing a culture where they trust the integrity and fidelity of their employees even when there is no one to look over their shoulders every now and then.
And finally, we have always been so busy in and with our lives, haven’t we? We barely ever had time to spend some unhurried moments with our loved ones. When was the last time we watched a movie without any interruption, together with all members of the family? Or had a long leisurely meal together? The reasons are not unjustified: busy schedules, running around incessantly to make ends meet, rushing to be in urgent meetings, receiving or making calls for office work, constantly staring at our computer screens preparing some report or another…. the list goes on!
Of course, many of us have taken family vacations but then every time our fun was spoilt by the dread of the work piling up back at office, or by the gigantic pressure of our academic pursuits.
And that brings us to the most important positive effect that the COVID-19 situation has had on our lives, the way we emote, and all that we are doing to maintain relationships. We are spending precious time with our families at home, we are talking, cooking, baking, or playing ludo or carom. We are having meals together. We are enjoying that evening coffee with homemade pakodas, panipuris, pizza and every other highly calorific food we could never have imagined consuming pre-COVID-19. We are staying in regular touch with lost friend and relatives and strengthening the bonds with the closer ones. Life doesn’t seem like a competition any longer. Isn’t that great?
The humankind is a very strong species. We have always been able to overcome the greatest, most perilous of adversities, and emerged sharper, stronger, smarter. World Wars I and II couldn’t deter us, Spanish Flu and Ebola couldn’t faze us, we learnt a thousand lessons from each disaster, each predicament. And this time we have people everywhere across the globe putting their heads together to come up with solutions to all the problems: the best of scientists are racking their brains and laboratories for a vaccine to COVID- 19, while business minds are devising new ways and strategies to engage employees and consumers, and improve the economy. The same mantra holds everywhere, We shall overcome… Some day. And that some day will come very soon. Eons back, we discovered fire by rubbing two stones together, and that brought us to where we are today. A stupid virus cannot defeat us. Just a matter of time, patience, hard work and team spirit. As we read in the world’s first epic poem, Beowulf, “That was got over, so will this be!”