Sometime in March, many organizations in India began encouraging employees to work from home to practice social distancing. On 24th of the month, the government also imposed a 21-day national lockdown which recently got extended by about three more weeks. By now, I have spent more than a month alone in isolation, away from family and friends, in the world’s biggest lockdown. And even if you lived alone before covid-19, nothing ever prepares you for the scale of this loneliness, with no workplace to go or no strolls to take in the neighborhood just in the proximity of the surrounding community. The ups and downs, still ongoing, are definitely leaving behind realizations and learnings to last this lifetime.

  • What began as denial (Oh, I’m sure this will be over soon enough!) soon turns into frustration (I can’t believe this is happening!) and helplessness (I don’t know how to get through this!), followed by bargaining (If I can just find one way to get home…) and finally acceptance (I guess this is going how it is going to be, at least for some time now) and hope (I hope I can see my family soon!). The lack of normal human interaction and the ecosystem around you are more powerful than you ever thought.
  • You experience exactly what the wise meant when they said money can’t buy happiness. Any resources you might have are not able to help you get home to your loved ones, to be with them in this uncertain time.
  • You are now grateful for all the things and activities you took for granted all along – an office to work in, the ability to travel and going to the movies with friends or even taking a simple walk in the park. You begin look forward to even the most mundane parts of life from before, like traffic on a Monday morning and other such reminders of normalcy. Maybe a bad day at work won’t seem so bad anymore either!
  • You understand how important it is to be able to enjoy your own company, not just on a solo trip someplace else exploring interesting places and people and cultures but anywhere in the world, while doing the most regular, dull chores too. Being at peace with yourself, with your thoughts and voices in your head is irreplaceable.
  • You realize collectively, as a community, how far you are willing to go for the larger goal. And you never knew just how much you were capable of! You also start finding a silver lining in stories of strangers across the country and along with it, your comfort and hope in it.
  • You learn crucial survival skills when there is no one else to help – like how to get rid of a cockroach! And maybe also discover some new interests and hobbies along the way – like perhaps reaching out to others through your writing and staying connected with the world! Meaningful engagement is the idle mind’s oasis.
  • You master the new ways of working and collaborating together in the changing times. Virtual meetings, virtual mentoring, virtual learning, virtual planning and even a virtual Zumba with colleagues! You also recognize the contingency plans for your organization may now have to include many, many unusual or new scenarios to prepare for what else the future might bring.
  • You recognize, by now, that going back to normal may not look like what it used to be. There will be a new normal for the foreseeable future till covid-19 is completely behind us. Businesses will need to adapt to the new needs and behaviors. Governments and support systems will need to be prepared for unlikely threats and reactions. And communities will need to hold on to the lessons from this crisis to avoid the recurrence as much as possible.

Whatever the future might hold, I am certainly looking forward to getting home again ?