COVID 19 THE GOOD, BAD AND THE UGLY

Late last year the virus COVID made its presence known in Wuhan China, the rest of the world went along its merry way all along thinking it is not our concern. As the world slept COVID spread its ugly wings beyond the China border. By mid -march the world woke up to a new reality. The virus is spreading fast, people are dying all over the world. Fear and panic gripped the world. Man became man’s greatest enemy in a matter of days. Isolation, quarantine, stay home were the new buzz words. No more theatres, no hanging out with friends, no bar hopping, mall shopping or eating out in restaurants. The home became the classroom, office, bar and restaurant and theatre. Our world suddenly shrunk to the four walls of our house. A new reality that we did not have time to prepare for, or even anticipate in our wildest dreams is here

The bad is everywhere. People rushing to store food, concentrating only on their own survival. Ostracizing people who have the virus. Branding, stigmatizing was the initial coping mechanism. There is chaos everywhere people do not know what to make of it.

Whoever had heard of COVID before, where did it come from? is it engineered? is it a hoax   ? a scare tactic? all kinds of rumours circulated far and wide. Fake news, real news there was difficulty discriminating between the two. However, these rumours were quickly dispelled as people came to grips with the hard reality as casualties kept mounting. No country was spared, the disease knew no boundaries the rich, the poor, the middle class, the old, young and middle ages all fell prey. Doctors, nurses, and frontline health workers are exhausted both mentally and physically. Being quarantined is affecting the way everyone is feeling, behaving, sleeping, and eating. People are anxious, unhappy and lonely. Pharmaceuticals are racing against time to come up with a cure or a vaccine. All of which is still in the trial phase. The sense of serenity and peace is lost. We are all in for the long haul

The bad and ugly consequences of the disease rages on. No one to bury the dead; doctors, nurses and frontline workers being shunned are all part of the bad ugly spectrum. Human sufferings are mounting. Loved ones are separated and cannot visit each other. When will it end? we keep asking, there are no answers. Unemployment and boredom rule the roost. Whatsapp, instagram, facebook and zoom are the eyes and voice to the outside world, the cyber thread that connects humanity. Malls are empty, restaurants bare, arenas and stadiums empty. Rows of airplanes sitting on the tarmac pose a very sad and grim picture. A small virus that the human cannot see with the naked eye has brought the world to its knees.

The bad and the ugly are all around. What good can a pandemic ever bring about? To get an idea of this we need to step aside and look at the problem like a spectator. In the midst of the sufferings we see the determination, kindness and resilience in people. There are numerous stories to tell. Strangers coming forward to bury the dead as family members are too reluctant. Donations to shopkeepers to supply food to the needy. Maids being paid even though they are not coming to work. Humanity and kindness too were everywhere, along with the bad and ugly.  Yeats once said, “give me a mask and I will tell you the truth”. The mask is an indicator of our common fate. The mask tells a story that we are all in this together. Our destinies are intertwined. We cannot run away.

So, what do we do? Wake up and ask oneself: what can I do to ride this wave. How can I regain my sense of serenity and peace?

Some of the thoughts in trying to make sense of all this chaos is: May be nature has pressed the rest button, the world was moving too fast, human beings were always on the move, the world was being polluted. What better way to cleanse the beautiful Earth. Pictures of Mumbai’s skyline free of smog, birds wandering on streets, elephants on a walk, in areas where they were never seen, all jammed the whatsapp and instagram pages.

The next question that arises is, how do I fill the void and emptiness that COVID has brought to our lives? As nature has pressed the reset button, human beings have to go back to basics and what are these basics that will help us come out of this quarantine unscathed. The most important basic lesson is “Discipline” One may ask how can I have any discipline when there is nothing happening. All the activities that we had were our external motivators. In the event of the loss of the external motivators we have to force kick our internal motivators. How does one do that? by following a strict schedule.

  1. Follow the routine you did before; so instead of staying in your pyjamas get up at the scheduled time, follow the same routine of shower, dressing and starting your day.
  2. Don’t forget a daily dose of exercise. The next problem is; the gyms are closed how do I exercise? If you live in an apartment building do the stairs 10 times, do yoga for at least 20 minutes daily. Lift some weights – you can change things around to prevent boredom.
  3. Challenge yourself to learn something new on -line. Maybe learn a new language or a course you always wanted to do.
  4. Meditation: May be this is the time to start. Learn to stay in the moment and make the most of it. Terry Waite, who was held hostage in Lebanon for 5 years, said one has to change how they think “Imagine not stuck at home but safe at home”. He also said that in situations like the pandemic where we feel trapped and angry, we need to come to terms with our anger and the best way to do it is to stay in the moment; what can I do now? mentally adjusting that this is your life and we do not want to be defeated at this moment.

Some tips to keep you going through the pandemic

  1. Practice gratitude. There are a lot of things we can still be thankful for.
  2. Reduce negativity. Yes, there is a lot of negative things happening around us but don’t forget to see the positives too.
  3. Make a list of family members and friends that you have not kept in touch by: phone, Zoom or any other virtual medium. For those not familiar with virtual platforms, may be this is an opportunity to learn something new.
  4. Keep children’s imagination active by encouraging them to innovate games or quizzes.
  5. Develop new skills or hobbies, like arts and crafts.
  6. If you are an activist this is the time to redirect your anger, regroup virtually and come up with ideas on how you can bring about change now with the resources you have.
  7. Choose 5 books you plan to read.

As Terri Waite said “this too shall pass and when it does, we would have changed for the better”.

It’s a matter of great joy to be associated with Trinity College, a college with a difference. With Ignite Innovation being the theme of the year, the college has come with wide range of innovative ideas and the blog is one such step. I wish Trinity College all success and may the never ceasing endeavor to impart quality education bear abundant fruit.

Reena Roy

 

 

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