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Lockdown and Us: Navigating Difficult Times

Posted: April 21, 2020

The lockdown continues to take over every aspect of our lives. Yet, in these difficult and tough times, let’s think about what really matters the most.

It has been a long time since the lockdown began. With more than three months of uncertainty since COVID- 19 first appeared and taken us unawares, the world has changed beyond our imagination. The human race has been reduced to being at the mercy of  nature. Somewhere in our greed of being powerful and invincible, we are driven to the edge!

A sign of climate change?

Nature kept throwing signs and hints, especially with ozone depletion, rising sea levels due to global warming and the endangerment and extinction of animal and plant species. Among societies, issues of a different nature kept breeding but we failed to notice those subtle hints and are now left helpless. However, the good news is that nature is on a reset mode and is recuperating from much damage and destruction. Also the good news is that we can do something about it if we learn our lessons well and mend our ways.

Life of seafarers during COVID-19

Like others, my life too has gone through many changes that have both directly and indirctly impacted me. As the lock-down began, the maid stopped coming to my house and so did the car cleaner. I could manage things on my own as I was home too and I could afford to work from home. Yet, my thoughts were about these service enablers and all daily wage earners who have lost their jobs and the opportunity to provide for their families. I will pay for the people who work for me and I hope others do that too. As far as the daily wage earners are concerned, I am certain that our governments would take care of them! It’s a sincere hope.

While my thoughts were with people around me I had to look at my own life too. Being married to a Master Mariner, my thoughts were of all the sailor queens, This time has been a little more testing for them than for others, who are with their spouses and family. I never wanted to say that the seafarers’  wives were strong and would always insist that they are like everyone else, however, this time, I feel like saluting all these women who are holding fort bravely and being strong not just for themselves, but for their families and spouses too. A sailor’s wife is a different breed as they rightly say, ‘Only the best man can go to the sea and only the best girl can be with the best man.’

The dynamics in the maritime industry have changed as there are no sign ons or sign offs happening. The seafarers onboard are continuing beyond their contracts and the ones who are due to join work are still at home. There are issues for both the set of seafarers, as they need to deal with international travels and people before they get onboard or back to their homes. The challenges for them are very different from those faced by all other professionals.

How daily life has changed

I am feeling the jitters too and I had to keep my mind clear of any negative thoughts and feelings. We are still getting used to the lockdowns. I keetpmyself very busy with Work from Home (WFM), whatever I can manage along with taking care of home and the children and taking up an online course. This has kept me more than occupied and helped me feel less stressed in the wake of the lockdown and closure of international borders.

With so much of remote work happening, people are craving to go back to their offices and to the colleagues, who, for many, are like extended family. Even though they crib and complain, people are hoping that all this clears up as they have learnt their lessons. Their wish is to go back to the things that were taken for granted once. I am certain we are all going to value it more than anything else.

Children are done with their term exams. After a break of about 2 weeks, the schools were supposed to reopen for the new session from 1st April, however, they remained shut due to the social distancing measures. As they say, where there is an intent, there is a way out. Teachers have kept the momentum of the new academic session. They conducted their classes remotely (online), so the schools have reopened in the real sense, albeit virtually. Kudos to all the teachers for doing a wonderful job! They are thinking out of the box and showing the children a way forward! More power to our teachers for all that they do, especially now when their roles and responsibilities have become more complicated. 

While we are at home, there are people on duty be it the policemen, the other men and women in uniforms, the civic workers, the grocers and our warriors – the medical and health care workers. We can never express enough gratitude to them. They are our saviours and Santas in these hours of need.

The adverse impacts of the lockdowns

Some very serious demerits of lockdowns have come to light. Domestic violence is being reported in many parts of the world, including India. It has given rise to too many WhatsApp groups forwarding the same content everywhere. Some are fake, made up, untrue and are causing more damage than connecting people. This has also lead to too much of unnecessary information sharing, imposing one’s opinion on others as well as people resort to retaliation.

Many articles soeak about how rganisations are giving their employees too much of work on the WFH pretext. All this has led to an unprecedented use of the internet. People are more on devices and are not using this time to engage and connect with their near and dear ones. Some of these are also purely the signs of depression.

A way forward?

We have a crisis at hand and it’s time we display integrity, ethics and common sense. This should not be difficult owing to the education we have received. I read an article describing the pandemic and our leader’s strategy to fight it. More than the article I liked the author\’s intro (there was no name). It said by someone who has no wings (right or left), no extremes (hard or soft), no religion, no party membership, but only a passport that is dear to him above everything else- an Indian passport that proudly says that they are Indian.

Like most trainers, I am also using this time to design new training modules and attend other trainer’s sessions whenever possible. As they say, ‘If the path is missing, make a new one!’ I am having a good experience conducting training the new way and learning to use this medium till we get back to in-person communication.

An impetus for change?

People are behaving differently too. I recently read an article that spoke about airline crew being harassed when they were getting back home after bringing back people from Corona- hit areas around the globe. We should be ashamed of  this behaviour, it is our collective ‘disgrace’.

We must remember that everyone is equally doing their duty and acknowledge that fact, be it the he auto rickshaw driver, vegetable vendor, utility worker, police, doctor or the other people working for essential services. We should recall and understand the struggles of daily-wage earners during this time particularly. One must applaud all or none and let the distance be only physical while maintaining our social solidarity.

This also brought about a sense of patriotism among our men and women, who think we must support everything that is made in the country, spend vacations within the country, support local businesses and artisans. They also think strongly that one must stay away from disruptive activities and avoid using religion or politics as a weapon. This is a battle that can be won leaving aside such petty fights. We must commit to stand by each other and support the national cause; rising above all our differences for the greater good of humanity!

Our motto should be, ‘We can and we will’.

Image Source: Indian Express 

Laxmi Todiwan - Founder Indian Women in Hospitality. She is a Professor, Corporate Trainer, Motivational Speaker

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