The Covid Chronicles: 1 year of disruption

9:06 AM


On March 12 2020, I met my friends over lunch before picking up my daughter in school like I normally did about once a week or so. Back then, I had no idea what was about to hit us, my friends and I made a weekend plan to do an arts and craft Sunday with the kids on the 22, pretty much took the fact we would meet again for another casual lunch soon and life was as good as we knew it. 

At 3.30 pm that day, things shifted without much of a warning. The kids all came out with super heavy backpacks and the teachers were pressed to try to inform the parents that kids would not be coming back to school for at least 2 weeks and that they just got informed about that decision by the government. 

Friday the 13 was the first day of this new reality. We were all hopeful it wouldn't last, that the school would stay off for two weeks and that we would get back to our lives. Mumbai was on "soft lockdown" with schools, malls and pools  shut. Kids still could play outdoors the first week of it, then 7 days into it,  the kid's playground got barricaded, but we were still all allowed to walk around our complex. We resigned ourselves to that new alteration, and started to wonder what else would be in store. We all had no idea! 

The proverbial crap hit the fan on March 22, when the country as a whole observed a 24hr full lockdown, banged pots and pans on their balcony and Maharashtra tightened the lockdown further. Back then we couldn't go out anymore, and restaurant downed their shutters, but we could still order non-essential online. We all thought it was manageable, we could wait it out at home, catch up on our reading, do fun activities as a family, purchase a few books and board games on Amazon and we thought that would be as bad as it was going to get on the personal freedom front.

Boy we were wrong! 

A few days later we got the big announcement at 9pm-ish that the entire country would go in lockdown for 20 days or so. All non essential purchases would be suspended, all non-essential selling shops would be shut, and we were told not to panic, that grocery stores would stay open, that there wasn't going to be any shortage of anything. 

Yeah right!

Fortunately, hubby and I had restocked our pantry a few days before that announcement and we were confident we could tide over the unavoidable wave of panic that would grasp the city. Some of my Amazon book orders got cancelled and refunded and I was mildly annoyed then,  but it was nothing compared to what was to come.

A week into this new insanity, we started running out of fresh vegetables, and a few essentials like soap and cleaning products that would have run out anyway. Hubby had to go to 5 kirana stores to just find basics like soap and breakfast cereals and the only vegetables we could find were tomatoes, potatoes and green capsicums. 
What followed were WEEKS of disrupted supply chain for all essentials, people aggressively refreshing their browsers in hope of ever getting a Big Basket delivery slots and WhatsApp groups buzzing with never ending messages about where to find things like laundry detergent, eggs, bread, and veggies that were not potatoes. 

Things we could not replace or fix broke, I ended up having to fix a faulty plug 5 times in two months before an electrician was FINALLY allowed in to do the repair. And as if it wasn't enough, we had to homeschool and be ok with it because the teachers in our school were grossly unprepared to tackle online schooling. 

It was back in April, a week into this new homeschooling gig that I emailed the teacher telling her we would not be completing assignments because we were all emotionally raw and our mental health primed over academics. The school preponed the end of the academic year shortly after that realising we all needed time to figure things out. 

It's mid-may that the government finally realised that their draconian lockdown was doing more harm than good and they finally allowed people to purchase things like laptop chargers, clothes, and appliances, and frankly after that it got a lot easier. 
I was happy to stay home, as long as I could replace things that broke into my home and purchase things like school books and stationery items.

A year into it, not all was bad...

Looking back on all this, I think the whole staying/working from home hasn't been all bad really, the restriction on what we could buy or not buy, and the not being able to step out at all (unless you have a dog) in the 6 weeks was the worst though. And frankly, a year later, I still have moments of anxiety over something breaking into my home or fearing running out of shampoo and not being able to get some quickly. 

What I came to enjoy, is the fact that we have a bit more time as a family, hubby is no longer spending hours in commute, and I also see a lot less disruption in my daily routine than I had before the pandemic hit us: 
- I'm no longer rushed in the morning to get my daughter ready for school, pack lunches, get a breakfast in, and walk the dog and still have enough time to work on my designs before having to go pick up my daughter and fall into an after-school routine. 

- I can sleep in the morning if I want to, and I can take naps on my term without an alarm clock. 

- I can take the decision to watch a movie late at night knowing that I won't have to wake up super early the next morning. 

- Hubby no longer having super long commutes has had the time to take a few online courses he wanted to do for years. 

- With our morning no longer rushed, hubby and I have more time to chit chat and start our day at a more human pace

At this point into the new reality, I would ideally want to see my daughter back in school, while I'm all in favour of adults working from home if they can, I think kids need to be in a social environment to learn and that component has been brutally removed from their lives on March 13 2020, I can see the repercussion, and it's not pretty, we had some really low points with that. 

Another thing that still gets to me at time is that we are all constantly or almost constantly home and even though we figured out a system and became really good about giving each other space, I am still sharing my home office with hubby, and it comes with certain challenges and a whole game of musical chairs. In the best 2 weeks hubby had to travel for work a few times and I realised how much I missed having my own space to work, not to mention my own laptop

If working from home for most becomes the way of the future, and I think it should, I wouldn't mind having an extra room to have my own working space, especially with my work requiring enough desk space and natural light to paint and draw. 

The way I see it, people should be encouraged to keep on working from home if their work allows it, it means less cars on the road, and a far more relaxed routine for all. I see a lot more people doing yoga or going for a jog early in the morning these days than I did before the pandemic hit. When you don't have to commute for close to 2 hours to go to office, it frees up time to take care of oneself, which I think is very important for our mental health and immune system at this point. 

Here's to one year of Pandemic! May it end soon, but let's not discard all the new habits and routine we picked in the past year. 

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