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How I am coping with the lockdown, far away from home

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The world has been fighting the novel coronavirus for almost three months now. At the time of writing, according to the World Health Organisation’s 74th Situation Report, there are more than 1, 43, 6198 confirmed COVID-19 cases with over 85, 522 deaths worldwide.

As the world fights this global pandemic, all we can do as individuals, is listen to the peer leaders, do our part and pray for all this to be over soon. 

Life as a foreigner in the time of COVID-19

Empty streets of Singapore (taken before the lockdown)

In this time of the pandemic, we (and by ‘we’ I mean the privileged like myself who have shelter and food, and the liberty to live comfortably without having to worry about money and where our next meal is coming from) are not being asked to do much– to just stay at home and maintain basic hygiene, and I think as evolved homo sapiens of 2020, we should be able to follow this simple request. 

While I totally understand that putting a pause to our usually fast-paced lifestyle can cause us to feel stir crazy, it’s time for us to put on our big girl/boy pants and start adulting.

Working from home and self-isolation can be lonely

I live in Western Singapore and there is a lot of greenery around me. The view of Bukit Timah hill from my window and the lush green trees in the parks nearby give me a sense of solace, which helps with the deep feeling of loneliness I often feel.

My home office

My entire family is in India and I miss them now more than ever. With my husband still going to the office a few days a week (he works in one of the essential sectors) and me being alone at home all day long, the loneliness and isolation I feel can be quite depressing. This is why I try and keep myself busy by practising yoga and meditation every day. 

With work from home and self-isolation becoming the new normal, life can get one dimensional and mundane. Full disclosure: work-wise, things are not that different for me. Being a freelancer, I have been working remotely for more almost four years now. So, that is the easy part for me. However, with events and gigs getting cancelled my finances have taken a hit and it does get a little frustrating sometimes when I am stuck at home.

Pro tip: Create corners for working from home. I have three-four different corners where I work from at my home to give myself a change of scenery. I know it sounds like it’s not much, but trust me it helps.

Video chats, Doordarshan and home-cooked food

A scene from Mahabharata drawn and coloured by comic book professional Santosh P. Pillewar |Source

During this time, if there’s one thing I have learnt, it is the value of family and friends. This pandemic has taught me the importance of a support system, and thankfully, I have a robust one. From friends to family that I am still able to connect to on video chat. It is a relief to be able to see my loved ones safe and sound.

Another thing COVID-19 is teaching the world every day is that sometimes, we just need to go back to basics. From #namastealltheway to #washyourhands– all these trends are basically reminders of the fundamental ways of life—how to not touch everyone all the time and exchange greetings from a distance and how washing our hands properly is important.

A few weeks ago, Doordarshan– India’s oldest and largest broadcast media– started running reruns of iconic television shows from the 90s– programs that I grew up watching— including mythological series like Mahabharata and Ramayana that basically preach life lessons, karma and mindfulness.

With Mahabharata’s theme song playing in my living room, the mouth-watering aroma of cumin, mustard and dry red chilli coming from my kitchen as I prep to make potato curry, and my mom ranting about something completely random and irrelevant over the phone- life feels almost “normal”.

Amidst everything that is going on in the world and the news getting scarier by day, it is these moments that I cling on to and tell myself that I can cope with this.

Life as we knew it has changed, almost overnight. But, there is a bright side to all this madness. Delhi’s air quality has improved drastically, penguins are roaming around on the streets of the US and I have actually seen otters from my window!

It is a trying time for all of us and this has put a lot of things into perspective and made me conscious of the things that I can change in my everyday life to make the world a better place- shopping only as much as I need, helping the underprivileged, caring for and respecting Mother Nature and being thankful for everything I have and not taking things for granted.

I hope we survive this and when we do, I hope there is a shift in how we live our lives. 

Featured Image Credit: Link

About Post Author

Surabhi Pandey

Surabhi Pandey, a former Delhi Doordarshan presenter, is a journalist currently based in Singapore. She is the author of ‘Nascent Wings’ and ‘Saturated Agitation’ and has contributed to over 15 anthologies in English and Hindi in India and Singapore. She writes on topics related to lifestyle and travel and is an active reporter on the tech startup ecosystem in Southeast Asia. She is the editor and founder of The Vent Machine.
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