A positive outlook during depressing times…
I live in Bangalore, India, and we have been in a state of complete lockdown since March 24th. That is close to a month now.
I have not crossed the gate of my apartment complex since then. That doesn’t bother me.
Will it bother me if this state of affairs continues for a few weeks more? Maybe…maybe not.
Will it bother me if it continues for months? Yes, it will.
But today, I am perfectly fine. There are several reasons why.
Traffic Jams do not Exist
During ‘normal’ life, one of the common topics of discussion at home or with friends was ‘traffic woes’. Today, it is a non-topic. It is almost as if the word traffic fell off the dictionary and the earth.
No one is going anywhere. Even if someone is, they are probably the lone car on the road at any point in time. With heavy cordons everywhere, no one is being allowed on the streets for recreational driving.
So, yup. Something that was a constant pain in everyone’s rear parts is suddenly nowhere on the radar.
Pollution Levels are Low
With so much traffic on the roads, air pollution was a real problem. We could feel it getting worse day by day. Cities like New Delhi were already reeling under epic pollution levels.
And what is the scene today? Air pollution is a non-topic. If someone is talking about it, it is in a positive vein. Just to note that the levels are actually going down.
Today, one hears more birds chirping than ever before. As a family, we find ourselves reaching out to the binoculars more often to identify some of the hitherto unseen birds.
Video Calls with Long Lost Friends
More and more friends and loved ones are reaching out to check on each other.
“All ok? Are you holding up alright?”
These are familiar text messages from several people who didn’t have time to catch up earlier. It is not that there is time now. It is just that times like these sort our priorities.
We feel the need to check on people we love. Make sure they are all ok.
Although all the infrastructure was available earlier, we never thought to have video calls, especially for groups of people.
And suddenly, distances don’t matter. Video calls are the norm.
I’ve personally participated in over 6–7 video calls with several different sets of friends. Some groups are into their second round of calls already.
Of course, there is a side benefit. Since there is nowhere to go, and therefore no need to dress up, we tend to stay in lounge clothes all the time. These calls are a motivation to comb one’s hair and add a dash of makeup!
Not Worrying About Family Being Out
Whether you admit it or not, if anyone in the house is out, there is a small part of you that’s worrying until they return home safe. The worry gauge registers a higher reading as the clock moves nightward, and the world gets darker.
Again, a worry that is not there today.
No one is going out. Even if someone is stepping out to purchase essentials, it is for a very short while, very close by, and definitely during the day.
Usually, my worry peaks when someone is out and it starts raining. Sometimes it rains very heavily, and there are instances of trees being uprooted and such like. I worry.
It rained a few days ago. April showers, and accompanied by gusty winds. Did I care? Yes, but in a different way. We all huddled in our balcony and savored the cool breeze and the happy showers.
It was magic to stand together and deeply inhale the smell of freshly watered earth.
We are Doing More Stuff Together
Since there is nowhere to go and nothing extraordinary to do, we are trying to come up with ways to entertain ourselves as a family.
More board games, card games, a spot of gardening, experimental cooking, cleaning, binge-watching TV shows and movies — these are just some of the things we are doing together. Not much of this used to happen while we each chased our own goals, and met briefly during the mandatory family dinner.
With domestic workers such as the cook and woman who comes in to clean staying safe in their own homes, there is a lot more work to do at home. Washing dishes alone is a full-time activity.
What feels nice though is that everyone has picked up some task or the other and carries their fair share of the load. We are functioning like a well-oiled unit. Not something one ever saw before the lockdown.
Everyone I Love the Most is Around me
We were listening to a radio show recently, and the show host asked us to think about who we’d like to see first as soon as the lockdown ended. My husband said the loveliest thing. He said everyone he loves the most was within the house, so no one was on the top of that list. I agree with that sentiment wholeheartedly.
While I miss meeting friends and other relatives, the people that matter the ‘mostest’ are at home with me. I couldn’t be more grateful and thankful.
On a side note, I have to admit that I would love to see my cook appear at my door as soon as the lockdown ends.
Life Seems Calmer Overall
We do not know what tomorrow looks like. How will the world fare? What will the economy look like? Will we all make it alive and healthy?
No one has the answers. So what is the point in brooding over these?
I’ve adopted the philosophy of Carpe Diem. I am seizing the day. To enjoy time at home. To enjoy the clean air. To enjoy time with my family. No one is rushing anywhere. No one has flights to catch or somewhere else to be.
Today is what we have. We should make the most of it, and fill it with moments of enjoyment.
Nothing is in our control except how we live this moment. Might as well laugh more, appreciate the little things in life more…
With that in mind, I do feel calmer than ever before.
I do not mean to underestimate the suffering around the world.
There are many people who are in deep trouble personally and financially. People are losing jobs and struggling for two square meals a day. For people who have been infected, or whose families have been infected, the situation is grim and depressing.
This is merely an attempt to look at the bright side in the hope that it will infuse some positivity in an otherwise bleak atmosphere.