A month on

One month of topsy turvy life

It has been about one month since my previous post. Where my world had turned topsy turvy. Literally. And in this one month, there are more changes. I am not sure whether for the good or bad. But change is the only constant. We have been working from home all this month. Staying in touch with our colleagues over meetings. Still getting office work done. But it has not been that easy.


Around the same time as the lockdown, a week earlier when things were normal I had gotten into a keto-diet regime to bring down my weight. My sugar levels were also high, so I had to do something about that as well to avoid it getting into a diabetic state. It is around this time that a consultant from a company called ReShape Fitness added me on linkedIn, and instead of the usual question of “how can I help you”, I asked him “how can you help me?”. Since there was a need for me. Thus began the diet session for nearly four weeks. My weight was 81.5, not bad for a height of 5’11” but still bordering towards high side.
I had to eat mostly proteins like Panner, and veggies (peppers, cauliflower, cucumbers, tomatoes, cabbages) and himalayan pink salt, keya pepper for taste. I was allowed to eat fats such as almonds, pistachios, but not carbs (such as carrots, even onions so to say). I was put on supplements (from Amway – the nutrilite variety) and protein drinks along with dietary fibre. So it was protein in the morning, veggies for the other two meals with nuts to supplement the hunger. Four weeks of this. The body started revolting on day 3. I spoke to the consultant and wanted to come back to normal food. But he convinced me to stay put. After about 8-10 days the fat burn started. All the way from 81.5 kilos to 72.5 kilos. A good 9kgs down. Irritable bowel syndrome fixed, low back ache fixed and the body was shown its place on what it should tolerate as the new normal.
It was around this time, I also started facing challenges in getting grocery delivered due to nationwide lockdown. And a severe bronchitis attack I had to sustain and get cured of. So I had to quit this program by 4th week to get back to carbs. But I learnt what I had to and would gladly continue it going forward.

Mental health & work

See there is nothing serious that can go wrong if you are at home for a month or so. But that depends on context. For me my wife and kids were with me, so also parents so it turned out positive. However I would say office productivity increased being at home due to more efficient targets and meetings. Work started by 9am as opposed to the daily 1.5h grind of commute. Every day was quite productive, but also made me tired. Due to the summers, I slept only by midnight and started getting up a bit late than normal warranting the need to hurry to get into the meetings scheduled. 
Lack of proper sleep, issues with diet and health are enough to make you moody and go berserk at home. And if the health issue persists like weeks like mine did, you really begin to feel low.
We keep joking around that we want to retire soon. But this is more like the same case but a trial version of how you would feel if you did retire. And if you never had to go out anywhere or meet anyone. This is when you truly realise the value of society, friendships, relationships, being together, checking on each other often, and everything else in between. There were instances where I did feel frustrated just staying put at home. Without socialising, or shopping, or even driving my car. This is when I understood that driving in the traffic was actually ok for me, it was an activity that kept me busy. Unlike sitting on a couch all the time.
I know some other people known to me were going through serious trouble at home with having too much to do and no me time for themselves. 

Real vs Unreal needs

This pandemic has surely brought about the ability for all of us to think and separate our needs into real vs unreal ones. What we need is food, family time, a feeling of being in good health, sufficient work and good rest. Nothing is gonna happen to us if we don’t socialise, or go out very often. Nothing is going to happen if we don’t keep binge ordering stuff from e-commerce websites to our whims and fancies.
We are now able to cook more at home, enjoy safe food with family. There are so many of us that took to cooking literally. Heck I am even starting a recipe blog for you all shortly. Binge spending stopped for good. With the stock market crash and the uncertain outlook on the economy we now understand why it is important to save money. We now realise the value of our current jobs after the job market froze literally. We are able to separate the wheat from the chaff.

The future

At least for the short term, the pandemic is not going to go away anywhere. A lot of what we do and how we do it will change. I was reading an article where TCS is going to make 75% of their workforce work from home. Things are changing slowly. Many companies would not mind providing more work from home options to balance out for their employees with respect to pandemic type situations. There would be more take away options at restaurants making them move to the model for good as compared to in house dining which will get more expensive. In fact the social distancing need is significantly going to increase everything – airfares, train fares, bus fares, hotel fares and what not.
Many people will likely stop ordering food from outside due to the risk of catching Covid. All payments would become contactless without cash exchanges anywhere. Shops like hair salons will see increased rates due to decreased footfall. People would be skeptic to go to clothing stores or such shops in the malls due to multiple people touching the clothes. Movie halls will see increased rates and lower footfall. 
Blueprints for the vaccine will get generated, and there would be a genuine investment into healthcare facilities for the future. Gyms will see lesser footfall and likely get out of business or have to move to online coaching mode with at home equipment for patrons. This also means more investment for us. All public gatherings would be scrutinised and sanitised or even avoided. Marriages would likely see lesser people attend. Food would be circumspect. Cleanliness would be questionable going forward. 
Schools & colleges would turn to electronic mode of working for at least one year – at least most schools. In fact they actually must if they have not yet done so. Public transport would be messy and lesser preferred. There is news that the used and new car market will actually pick up very well soon because people would prefer buying and driving their own vehicles to avoid risk of infection. This automatically defeats purpose of public transportation and would lead to heavy traffic jams and increase commute time in the city.
Industries will begin to function but will not have a concrete executable plan in place to handle infection risk. Their plans would make sense on paper but in reality will take long time to be actually giving results. Tourism industry will take a huge hit with airlines hiking their fares and not many people wanting to go to resorts for avoiding risk of infection. In fact this industry may not see heydays for another 1-2 years as they cannot change their business model like other industries.
Salary cuts or job losses means Loan defaults and not many people will go for newer loans for the whole of 2020 for the short term which means spending will reduce. This will affect all industries such as real estate. Many migrant workers will likely be out of jobs for an extended period not so much because people cannot pay them (like maids, cooks, etc) – but more due to the perceived infection risk. The country needs lots of impetus to reboot the economy. Without that, things will take a long while to come back to shape. What we also need is a plan that will actually work without causing much hardship to people going about their duties. Unfortunately there is no such silver bullet to every need. At best we will end up with few things that works best in this situation and other things that just dont and infact may be complicating the situation more. It will be a mix of stuff which we will have to deal with.
But this too shall pass. Except this time it would be a long reset. Wear your seat belts and sit tight. The road ahead is rough.

The world turned topsy turvy


It was December of 2019. I was preparing to buy a new car, and also conduct a function at my home for my boys. Planning was in full swing. Suddenly I lost my 96 year old grandma. It all happened in just a week. We were a bit sad about this, but still decided to go ahead with the function assuming her blessings.  She personally had told me she will be there at the function no matter what the circumstances. But that was not to be.
Hectic activity preceded the function. Invitation cards, arranging a hall, transport, accommodation, food, the priests and everything else from decoration to photography. The mood was set and the function happened. It was a fantastic event well represented by everyone. Family, friends to support me and make it a success.
Around this time just after the function, my father in law had a heart attack. It all happened all of a sudden. He was at my home and he suddenly started perspiring. I just checked his head and felt that it was a little too much and I took a call to immediately take into the hospital along with my wife. Fast forward two days and he had come out of the ICU after having a couple of stents placed in his heart. A couple of days later he was back home feeling fine. In the meanwhile my new car suffered an accident although a minor one. I personally did not get hurt but I had to spend a lot on damages.
Just when I thought everything was getting settled the COVID-19 mania entered the scene.

The Pandemic

Even at the time of this writing the number of confirmed cases all around the world has already touched 600,000. A whopping 27,000 deaths have already occurred. 130,000 people have recovered and the pandemic has affected 181 countries. India had to work fast and do something immediately. This is where the Prime Minister took a bold call and not only did he ask for a curfew of one day but also extended the curfew for three more weeks. What started as a joke about the Chinese turned into a real nightmare for the entire world. Every company offered work from home for the employees and the government ordered a strict lock down of the entire country. This simply means everything was stopped – malls and movie halls, schools, transportation, working from offices, public gatherings, events or even simple things like restaurant visits and family outings.

Pressing the reset button


Work and Study

Just one week or two everything has turned topsy-turvy. Kids took up exams in schools hoping that they would go to the next grade with flying colours. But the government cancel the entire primary and middle schooling and rather promoted them to the next grade automatically. High school exams are now postponed without a date. Working from home became the new normal for employees in India. All the meetings were happening on video conferencing software. And now the whole world is talking about the recession to come. If the stock markets are anything to go by we are in for a very very long haul by the time everything recovers. People were hoping of good salary hikes and promotions and needless to say bonuses but now all they want is their job to be secure. 

Fun and frolic

People wanted to spend time with their families watching movies and going to malls for shopping and a few other trips for holidays. But people are now spending time with families sitting at home. Many people lost lot of their money in the stock markets, while some have a lot of money and don’t know what to do with it. There was a time when weekend shopping was a must do in everyone’s list but today the whole world is scrambling to get food that can last at least one week. The world is talking about distancing from each other not meeting each other, and not going to any public place for fear of catching the virus.

The importance of small things

Everyone of us for a long time have assumed that everything in the world will be available to us all the time. Given the crunch on resources we now understand to see small pleasures in life and appreciate them. It could be as simple as having a good meal with your family. It could be to do the clothes or to do the garden or even playing with your kids on the street. It could be watching the birds or enjoying the silence given that all the industrialisation has come to a full stop. This is the reverse case of the so-called perceived stress that we undergo with our job. Requiring us to sit at home doing nothing for nearly a month makes us feel like we are cut off from everything. We now understand the happiness associated with all the socialising that we did. Our mind yearns for getting back to work meeting our colleagues and friends and getting a break from the mundane home life.
We now understand that we need not run to the doctor for every single problem we have, but rather find some way to get it cured at home itself. We now understand how not to waste things, how to keep our home clean, and what it is to be healthy. We now understand how important it is for our kids to go to school and get educated while spending quality time with their friends. 

Government stuff

As far as the government facilities are concerned the lawmakers now realise the seriousness to reboot the system once and for all. In my opinion this should be a permanent change and for the good. This should help the future generations be prepared for anything like this pandemic. Our healthcare facilities need to be upgraded and more importantly accessible to all irrespective of how much money they have. In fact a country like India should now seriously think about social security in a greater sense with respect to health care. In all of this I really appreciate how we as a country have put in all our minds together and take a resolve to fight this pandemic. 

Future priorities

As we go into the future cautiously our priorities need to be revisited completely. We need good healthcare which is affordable to all. We need assurance on food supplies. We need to stop hoarding essentials. We need to stop panicking about everything. We need to support those who are taking action. We need to care more for our families. We need to socialise more with our friends. We need to look forward to a world where humanity takes priority over everything else. We need to help more. We need to give more. We need to treat all other beings other than humans with greater respect. We need a lot more trust and a lot more faith. We need to stop being politically oriented and start being more humane. We need to celebrate the fact that we are living a good life and so are others around us. We need to make genuine friends and we need to respect people around us more. 
But is the world ready for all this? Or are we going to go back to old ways and only think about ourselves while we cause destruction around the earth with our selfish nature? This is like that all important exam question but you are given a chance to edit your answer once. Will you choose wisely?