STAY CALM, STAY SANE

We all have been witnessing this global threat called Corona since last three weeks. We are now well versed about Do’s & Don’ts about how to stay safe. There is lot of material that is shared on social media, television and other mediums about how to self quarantine, how to wash and sanitize hands, how to plan your life essentials etc etc. But one thing that I realised is missing is the focus on mental health. Keeping up the mental health during this tough time is as important as taking care of physical health.

Someone has said it right, you attract what you think. With so much details of death & infected toll, it is quite easy to feel depressed, worried and scared. One negative emotion leads to another and the chain continues. So how do we remain positive? While many could be having great plans of things to do during this time, I urge you all to take 10 mins from your day to focus on your mental health. This will not only help you in this time of test but it will help you through out your life span.

I am sharing a few things which I practice to improve my mental health. Like I said, it helps me immensely during the time of pressure at work, or any tension coming on the personal front.

1. Prayers: I believe that prayers have immense power. Pray to the God. One simple rule that I follow for prayers is to ask for the ability to be able to come over the difficulties rather than asking the end result. It is better to ask God to build and empower ourselves and let the God be the navigator or facilitator.

2. Meditation: This helps me a lot especially when I am unable to concentrate out of tension or when it seems to be a dead end and I don’t seem to find answers to the nasty questions life throws at me. 

3. Stay away from negative: This is a very important step. Just cut off yourself from negative news, negative places and negative people. I have totally cut out on checking news related to Corona, reading messages regarding it, keeping updated with death toll or even reading the so called funny forward messages related to it. Come one, by now we all know and understand what needs to be done so what is the point in catching up on news showing policemen beating the rule breakers or counting which state or the country is ranking highest in death or infection toll.

4. No discussion: I always follow that I talk less and act more. Well, I am talkative by nature and can carry out candid discussions very well with a toddler or a senior Citizen alike but when it comes to making way out of a problem I go on a mute mode. I speak less and act more. This saves your time and energy which you can put to better use than just discussing about how unfair it is to happen what really happened.

So friends, I hope I drew your attention to taking care of your mental health as well. Do take it seriously. Follow any method that suits you. Do share what you follow, I would like to learn from you and your experience.

Until then,stay calm and stay safe. Think positive and be positive.

ONLINE CLASSES DURING THE TIME OF LOCKDOWN

Since the time my second child was born I used keep saying that there will be a year  when both my children will give board exams one will be in 10th and the other will be in 12th.. if you are aware of the Indian education system I am sure you will understand what kind of pressure a parent will feel. I used to say that this year would be very difficult one for me.. And as they say what vibes you send out to the universe.. The universe strives to bring it to you…

So here we step into the new academic year in the first week of March.. books bought, tuition in place and school starts in full swing…

But we didn’t know the actual meaning of difficult till we reached mid March.. schools shut down indefinitely.. Offices declared work from home and then came the total lock down.. yes the dreaded Covid19 was here. The complete effect of this virus on our life is still not known. How it is going to change the normal life and what will be the new normal after the pandemic. I am just targeting one aspect that changed on our lives..

The schools waited for a week or so and then decided to move to online classes. Suddenly the names like zoom, google hangouts, Google meet etc became the new buzz words in every household.

People talked about rationing supplies we started by rationing the WiFi too. See I am working from home, my husband has a business which anyways he manages from home, both my children have online classes for 5-6 hours everyday and then way down the priority line are my in-laws who need their basic dose of WhatsApp and YouTube etc.. one laptop and one desktop and 5 mobiles all trying to milk as much as possible from the WiFi router..

Then comes the actual classes. My heart goes out to the teachers. Poor things most of them are not tech-savvy. And they have been thrown into uncharted territories because of this lockdown. After a brief online training they have been asked to conduct online classes for children studying in 10th and 12th.. And these children are anytime more tech savvy and inquisitive to know new things . I have seen the boys looking for new ways of troubling the teachers. On day one innocently the teacher gave admin rights to all students. Children didn’t put their mics on mute so there are random talks in between the class. Then children realized that they could scribble random things on the screen and teacher  doesn’t come to know who has done it.. The teacher who was in complete control of her class in school is now at her wits end.. finally admin rights revoked and mics put on mute etc.. Random cases of students playing music in the zoom class happened.. yes they were doing all this just for the fun of it as they were discovering new features of the app.

Teachers are recruiting their family members or friends who know these apps. They are in the class only to maintain the virtual discipline and not allow any student to take advantage of all the features available.

There are a few teachers who know this new area well like the computer teacher who is using Github where the children upload their Java code and she can execute the program and check it for errors etc. And she is also using Discord for her online classes. I had seen children using discord only for online gaming and chatting till now.

Students are also overloaded with these classes not only does the school have online teaching after that the tuition and coaching centers have their own lectures online. My son entered the tuition class of his friend today to make mischief as his friend was getting bored. I am not too proud of it and I gave a piece of my mind to him today hopefully he does not repeat it. But I am still surprised and by the ingenuity of his approach. The virtual classroom was locked(yes apparently you can do it). So to get in first he told his  friend to leave the class and then ask the teacher to unlock so he can enter. Once the class was unlocked both of them entered. The teacher is teaching and he started his own screen sharing where the other kids also started scribbling #no studies etc. Every one is laughing and the teacher is frantic. Eventually he caught this stowaway and kicked him out. So now he can’t enter the classroom room as he has been kicked out. My son and his friends are working on a way out of this predicament too.

‌The teachers have to be on their toes. They have to upgrade their online skills. Remember these children will always be one step ahead. Here’s wishing more strength to the teachers to handle their virtual classrooms.

‌As my son pointed out today to me that it’s a cruel world out there and only the fittest survive.

But I am sure the teachers will cross this little hurdle soon. And someone somewhere is already listing out the online class etiquette and tips and tricks to master these virtual meeting apps.

 

LOCKED DOWN IN LOCKDOWN

Towards the end of February, we finalized the Candyland theme for our younger son Abir’s birthday, who was turning 4 on 18th March, due to his unconditional and interminable love for chocolates, candies, lollipops and everything that’s sweet!

Birthday gifts, return gifts, décor as per the theme, everything was procured, but it was only that we were not able to decide on the date for the party basically because my husband was in Dubai and COVID-19 was gradually spreading and hence wanted to postpone it to 14 days after his return on 17th March. I wasn’t agreeing for post celebration because I felt that would be too late and just like everyone else, I never imagined that COVID-19 would be declared a pandemic. I was convinced only when the first case of coronavirus was registered in our city. 

Even when Holi celebrations were getting cancelled, I didn’t have the slightest thought that the situation would turn so grim. Even before the official home quarantine orders came, my husband had already decided to go into self-isolation after his return and we all, including kids, followed suit. Convincing my elder son, Arjun, was a big challenge. With schools getting closed and exams being cancelled, his outdoor play was the only thing that kept him busy. The thought of staying inside the house for 14 days was a big challenge for him to accept. However, I made him understand that it was required for every person who comes from a foreign country. For my ease, I got him books and toys for his entertainment for two weeks. 

Things had turned worse by the day my husband was returning from Dubai. Incoming flights from many foreign countries were getting cancelled. Owing to the increasing precautionary measures, my husband decided to stay in a separate room and we strictly started our safety regime. Kids were not allowed to enter his room, although they badly wanted to give him a big hug. It was Abir’s birthday and we planned a small surprise for him by decorating a corner and placing all his gifts there. He was excited, but he wasn’t ready to believe that it was his birthday because for him, birthday meant a party with his friends around him. However, we managed to persuade him that we will have a big party afterwards.

It’s so good to be home” quote came true for us when the next day, all the foreign flights were cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic. Being thankful to God was the only thing that I was doing every now and then. 

After a couple of days came in the ‘Janta Curfew’ and then finally the Lockdown. Shoddier times had started, I felt. In the middle of the night, I used to get up to check the number of COVID-19 cases. 

It should not touch 100”, I thought.

It should be within 500”, I prayed.

It shouldn’t cross 1000”, I dreaded.

I started having dreadful dreams and panic attacks. 

Stop watching and reading news and ignore messages on social media”, my husband suggested.

With the responsibility of the whole house work and KIDS, I was trying to manage everything alone, but all this stress made me weak. I immediately stopped visiting news sites, ignored forwarded messages and switched to praying and meditation, which really worked for me. 

As I wrote this article, I asked Arjun also to write about his feelings, who’s very upset as our summer vacation trip to grandparents got cancelled.

Our mandatory self-isolation is over now, but we have to continue our quarantine as per the government guidelines. Things are better as my kids can now play with their dad and I have got a helping hand too! We are enjoying our family time by playing Scrabble, Carom, indoor Cricket and watching comedy shows and movies. 

We all are going through a terrible phase. Neither we, nor our older generations have ever witnessed such a lockdown due to a pandemic or any other reason. But then, this too shall pass. Keep the faith!

OUR NATION IS A FAMILY

As the COVID-19 pandemic broke-out in India, 22nd March 2020, 7:00 A.M – 9:00 P.M was declared as National Curfew and in response to it, away from home alone, I locked myself in my flat in Kolkata. On Monday, the 23rd March 2020, when I reached office the first question everyone asked me – “Have you not gone home? Today, 5:00 P.M Kolkata will lockdown till 31st March 2020, how will you survive?” At the last hour, I took the last flight to home and left Kolkata just 30 minutes prior to the city went for the lockdown. While in those few short n’ rush hours of leaving the city, all that was running in my mind was – “How to reach home?” The only prayer my mind was repeating alongside sorting all works is – “God, please help me to reach home safely”. And as I reached home at 10:30 P.M, there was a calm and happy feeling in me. Physically I was too tired yet the heart was joyful and relaxed.

Well, the story narration is enough to prove the proclivity of every human heart. The human heart yearns to dwell in its safest place since there alone he puts his confidence and he finds his joy. It reminds me of what the Bible says,

“Two are better than one because if either of them falls down, one can help the other up.

Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three is not quickly broken.”

Well, in the presence of more than two in the family there is the possibility of difference of opinions which later causes a bit of bitterness. But there’s a blessing that comes within the bitterness. Since caring is the intention of everyone at the end of a little bitterness the love is reflected. That’s exactly what we experience in the daily affairs of our families. At times, the end differs due to the overpowering of intolerance in our relationships. So, the Father of our Nation, Gandhiji rightly said,

“Anger and Intolerance are the enemies of correct understanding”.

Being the citizens of one nation we are one family and now, we see the replica of our above discussion. When the entire nation is asked to “Stay home – Stay safe” on contrary we find the result of our flawed understanding in the streets – we have fed our intolerance and anger causing the virus to spread more.

In response to it, in the Bible, it is written,

“I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession, and thanksgiving be made for all people – for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.”

Let’s rely on God and rely also on those who are in authority as appointed by God. Prayer, Petitions and Preparations are what I can learn myself during this period of lockdown and also can suggest these for all others going through this article.

 

LOCK ‘EM DOWN AND KNOCK ‘EM AWAY

Lock ’em down and knock ’em away

Your disdainful ego and pompous arrogance

 

Lock ’em down and knock ’em away

Those vile vices that you so hold dear

 

Lock ’em down and knock ’em away

Your raging fury and mindless vandalism

 

Lock ’em down and knock ’em away

Those clingy weights that pull you low

 

Lock ’em down and knock ’em away

Your venomous desire to settle scores and avenge

 

Lock ’em down and knock ’em away

Those discriminatory attitudes of racism, sexism and communalism

 

Lock ’em down and knock ’em away

Your unbelief and self-aggrandizement

 

Lock ’em down and knock ’em away

Those blind superstitions and irrational dogmas

 

Lock ’em down and knock ’em away

Your gossip mongering and jealousy

 

Lock ’em down and knock ’em away

The bitching and backbiting

 

Lock ’em down and knock ’em way

The sins you are enslaved to

 

While you are locked down against a life-threatening virus

Take time to introspect in a moment being serious

 

Count not the ephemeral losses that you may incur

‘coz those you anyway would lose one day

 

Unlock the treasures of the soul

That will make you contented and whole!

 

LOCKDOWN HAS ACTUALLY OPENED UP US – WHAT SAY?

From March 16 to April 3, 2020 Belgium is under lockdown. And now extended till 19th April which will be reviewed at the end of the period bringing the lockdown period to 5 weeks in total.  First reaction “Oh crap! Oh China what have you gifted to the world! My kids losing out on school and vacations.  Kids at home + Husband working from home = more hours in kitchen with additional cups of tea. Headaches, panic attacks concerning how things would shape up, constant fear for the family here and overseas are definite bonuses of this quarantine period and pandemic Coronavirus.  And it’s the same picture everywhere irrespective of the country we live in.

But gloom brings negativity, so thought of wearing those witty glasses on to just lighten up the mood and since everything thing under the sun has a flip side so does this quarantine period.  Why not assess them once 😁:

  • No “alarm”ing mornings for a while. Getting up at 8 AM is also a bliss.
  • You can be you, no need to doll up. Pyjamas and flip flops would do and the comfort they provide is the ultimate.
  • Since restaurants, malls and other non essential shops are closed surely you would save a lot. Don’t believe me? Check your bank statements from the time of lockdown 😁.
  • You can surely dedicate few hours revisiting the forgotten shelves of wardrobe. Our old favourites do motivate us to work out to fit in them again.
  • Sitting at home do make us hungry perhaps a little more often but then the free work out sessions in absense of the domestic help will surely make a difference. Trust me it works😁.
  • Marriage albums and CDs bring the nostalgia moments back and never underestimate their entertainment value, mind you! Why the fourth cousin to your twice removed uncle was sulking throughout the marriage, why the cameraman was obsessed with people dining in the marriage, the over excited friends of the bride and groom, the repeated plastic smiles on the dias when the guests come and say Congratulations but they actually meant “Abhi toh party shuru hui hai” (The party has just begun, just wait and watch) – to recall those moments and stare at your partner and going back to your chores is superb fun.

Oh I am witty at it’s best 😁😎. And here comes the flying pan and BANG!!!! Bringing me down to the earth😁😁.   Let’s talk some serious stuff. No I am not going to  repeat what our news portals  and WhatsApp universities are churning out day in and day out since the outbreak of this pandemic. I am not here to present the skewed graph of economic activity during this period or the economic impact of this inactivity.  Neither I am talking about the soaring numbers of people affected directly by the virus nor I am discussing how the governments of different countries coping up with this situation etc. That anyways need deeper introspection which I am not capable of.  This lockdown period has actually opended up different viewpoints to look and tackle a situation  at the hand:

  • At the end of this period (hopefully soon) many of us would be a better person who understands the concept of Dignity Of Labour. Our domestic helps, drivers, security guards – they are working to feed their families with the utmost respect.  Poverty hasn’t made them take up wrong ways. This is what we should respect. They do work for wages but they do help us make our lives little more comfortable. Isn’t it? Treat them with respect, they aren’t our slaves.  And no words of praise are sufficient to hail the great work our frontline workers – doctors, nurses, sanitation workers, police and army. A big salute to them.
  • We would be a better managers.  With services and supplies limited to essentials during this lockdown period the sense of responsible spending is something which I see getting imbedded and inculcated. Leftovers can be turned into a new recipe but not wasted. While people are facing cuts in salaries due to many reasons wise spending is definitely on cards. And as they any thing repeated for 21 days becomes a habit, some positives are in offering.
  • For people who are during the normal days far away from the kitchen and just fire away orders will now come to know how much hard work it takes for ingredients to be turned into an sumptuous meals which they dismiss without blinking an eyelid.
  • Bringing us back to the roots.  As we moved to the cities and got acquainted to the fast moving lifestyle we are accustomed to the words like “automatic”, “instant”, “readymade” and gradually alienated ourselves from our roots that required patience and preparation. This lockdown period has surely stopped us to give us sometime to ponder over many questions pertaining to our lifestyles. We are gobbling up and stopped eating; gulping down but stopped drinking; showing off and stopped celebrating. Have you ever thought why our previous generations (especially our grandparents and even earlier) were happy despite of meagre comforts at their disposal? Why we are raising up our kids with supplements to boost immunity which we never heard of as kids? Our education (read mere literacy) in the wake of being logical and questioning everything has actually made us mock everything we didn’t get a hold of. We mocked our culture, age old traditions (not all traditions are primitive and illogical), simple lifestyle of limiting the needs because scooping out more is our mantra. And this race has actually put us in the line of fire of mother nature who surely has her ways of setting the spoilt brats straight. Her warning to us this time : “Slow Down A Bit, Go Back To Your Roots”. This lockdown period is bringing out positives as now we have family meals together, cooking and eating healthy instead of buying in a jiffy, bonding between generations is building up, the importance of our traditional practices (one petty example : every house in southern India have turmeric laden doorsteps, started decades ago to check various infections from entering the house) is being realised. Surely it’s time to realise the difference between price and value!
  • When we would step out of this confinement period clear skies and waters would greet us. Ozone layer is self healing. Our race to earn has hurt the heels of mother nature really bad. She is cooling her heels now, please wait inside.
  • And yes this would actually open up new avenues of opportunities to those who can think differently. New business ideas are surely going to mark their arrival. Mark my words.

I can come up with numerous ways how this critical moment is working the right ways for us. The prism through which we look at an issue at hand matters.  Human race has witnessed many more crucial and defining moments in the past as well – world wars, famines, catastrophes, viral outbreaks like the current one. This isn’t new and isolated. And everytime human bounces back strongly , this shall pass too. For that we need to be selfishly responsible for ourselves and our family, in that way we are serving multiple number of people and the country. And when this time passes we need to strive to bring out the better version of ourselves – compassionate, empathetic, considerate, rejuvenated!

Amidst all this chaotic tense atmosphere the irony of human nature that has come forth is : when people were supposed to go to their works they strongly wished to stay back home and relax. Now when they are supposed and obligated to stay at home for a greater cause they want to loiter outside. Not to abide, not content define us pretty much. On contrary we must be thankful that we have a roof over our head, we are safe in our haven and with people who care for us.

A Request: Wait for sometime to quench your thirst for adventure. This is not the time for all you would buy is pain and suffering in wholesale. And for the rest this quarantine period is no less than a challenge.

Are You Ready To Take Up This Challenge Thrown At You?

LOCKED-DOWN: CAGED OR AN OPPORTUNITY IN DISGUISE?

So what is the first thing that comes to your mind, when you hear the word “Locked”? Loss of freedom, Imprisonment, a safety tool or a precautionary weapon? You see, it is all about perception.

The world is in chaos right now. Thousands have been shot across the globe, not with guns or roses but with an outbreak of the very famous “Coronavirus”. Spreading rapidly, it’s on its way and with no destination, it seems arrived. It has rooted its seed, leaving no traces behind. Precaution by staying home seems to be the only drug that can stop giving life to Corona.

Now, are we cribbing to be locked in our respective homes? Well, let me assume the answer depends on how well one is actually aware of the consequences of stepping out at times like these. How about utilizing this given opportunity to the optimum use by staying indoors. Some may be working from home, some may have found a new hobby or some maybe bored to death. Again, perception, you see!

So, while we are sitting at home and battling against corona, allow me to bring to you kind notice that the air is fresh, waters are clean and the roads are pollution-free. In short, Mother Nature is healing. Are we?

This Lockdown has proved, no amount of money can keep you safe from this virus. No piece of expensive clothing, shape of body, color, caste or religion can make this virus surpass you. 

I hope this lockdown is opening doors to various realizations and teaching us to spend our time on things or people, which didn’t matter then. 

  • Spending Quality Time with your family. 

(Image Credit: Google Inc.)

So, when was the last time, you went on a vacation for more than a week with your family, to a destination called “Home”. Agreed, we were all surrounded with so much stress, negativity and work pressure, we thought happiness is only outdoors. This is the time wherein one can fill the communication gaps, clear the air of misunderstandings, have healthy conversations, get to know each other well and mutually work on bringing back the lost spark in relationships. 

  • Being contented with what we have and that is enough.

(Image Credit: Google Inc.)

Now, let’s be honest, no Swiggy or Zomato can replace the warmth of love in food cooked in our very own kitchen, which is way healthier and good for our pocket too. How about, taking this as an opportunity to try few recipes for those who don’t know to cook or maybe even jolt them down for future. I hope we have come in terms with the fact that, this Lockdown is teaching us to appreciate and be satisfied with what we have by practicing Minimalism.

  • Patience level put to test. 

(Image Credit: Google Inc.)

For introverts, this lockdown may be a boon, but for extroverts, it may not be so. Imagine, if it was not a lockdown due to a virus but an actual WAR? Would you still crib about not able to go out? Would you still crib about nothing to do at home? Then why crib now? At the end of the day, the moral of the story is to embrace the situation, learn to survive and acknowledge that we are privileged and not rant about it. Learn to be patient, in the process.

  • Building Values.

(Image Credit: Google Inc.)

Teach our children resilience, the art of survival, life skills and gratitude. Respect each other, overcome greed and motivate sharing. Learn what humanity is all about. No profession is small. I hope we make sense of things and I hope we get to live them very soon. Let us look forward to continue carrying the lessons learned in the coming days and hope it won’t wither away with this lockdown.

What is Isolation for me?  “A destination, one should frequently travel to, to rejuvenate oneself.” I hope and I pray, we all are rejuvenating ourselves, knowingly or unknowingly. So, stop cribbing, slow down and live the moment.

We are soldiers battling for our Nation and our family. 

Stay Safe and Remain Healthy.

Take good care of yourself.

(Visit Ms. Archana Dipu’s personal blog at INKEDTREATS )