The dichotomies of the Lockdown

Chandana Agarwal, President - North, 82.5 Communications, looks for the silver lining in the now much written and spoken about ‘New Normal’.

e4m by Chandana Agarwal
Updated: May 25, 2020 12:19 PM
Chandana Agarwal

When the pandemic led lockdown was announced suddenly no one was prepared for what lay ahead. We didn’t know how we will live through it and for how long were we expected to stay like this. The new norms of everyday living evolved and the paths for what is now commonly referred to ‘the new normal’ began to form a thick haze. New paths led to new takes. My point of view on what the popular takes are. Please tread with caution, they may cause much uneasiness.  

With things going digital we are set to lose human connect

Urban India has never been more digital. From office meetings to family get-togethers, from grocery shopping to paying bills, from training programmes to hobby classes, we are doing everything online. Yet I feel that we have never related to each other more humanely before. With all of us peeping into each other’s personal lives so many times a day, we start connecting to each other as individuals rather than as designations or roles. When you call a client to discuss an idea and he is trying to calm his crying child, a barrier is broken, you have been invited into his ‘other’ life. You relate differently from that moment. Zoom gives us a peep into people’s lives, homes and families and that makes them a part of our circle.

It humanizes the interface. Unexpectedly so. 

 Lockdown and forced social distancing will make each of us lookout for our own selves

Yes, people are stocking but people are also sharing like never before. The scale of the catastrophe is so huge that we are all donating - food packets, money, masks, sanitizer and so on. There are donation kitchens run by volunteers, all RWAs have taken it upon themselves to support their staff, I am not saying that what we are doing is anywhere close to enough. But the attitude needle has moved in a positive way.

 An incident I was touched by- I saw a lady lamenting on social media, that she couldn’t go to celebrate her father’s 80th birthday and in a few minutes, somebody she didn’t know said she lived in the same society as her dad and she would bake a cake for him and would make sure there is a celebration and will share pics. Isn’t this what social connections should be about?

 We have seen businesses come to a standstill putting severe short term pressures on the bottom line

I wish you could hear some of our clients saying they do not want to do any cutbacks and they want to do what is right for customers. Yes, in such a sensitive time they will refrain even from making a competitive claim for a category that can benefit the people. Lifebuoy soap was the first one to come up with a paid ad that said, you can use any soap and named their competitors in the ad. An entrepreneur friend who runs a very successful consulting practice called up to say that if he doesn’t pay himself he can continue to take care of his people for a very long time, certainly till such time that the economy looks up. The Lockdown has opened and demonstrated the doors of humanitarian compassion. 

Gender biases will be reinforced as women will end up doing all the housework in the absence of help  

Well, it is true. Women do have an unequal responsibility of the home - cooking, cleaning and grocery shopping, etc. and the office work for most of us has been more demanding than ever. However, here is the silver lining, all the conversations that I have had with my friends from both the sexes, makes me believe that this lockdown has done more for blurring the lines of the gender roles than any movement could have. People at large, including school kids, in the family, have had an awakening of sorts, of how much a woman does at the office, her tenacity, her extraordinary patience and calm in the face of pressures from multiple sources. I can also say with reasonable confidence that there is more willingness to share the load by everyone in the house today than ever before. May this attitude shift prevail.

The forced in-home situation has brought about a huge setback in children’s education

Learning is at an all-time high, kids (and adults) are reading a lot more, most libraries have made their entire catalogue available online for no charge, all museums have made the tours free – from the Louvre to the MET, all educational institutes, from Harvard to Linkedin are offering opportunities for people to upskill themselves, free of cost, there are so many free online hobby classes, people are taking the time and making the effort to be able to bring positivity in the lives of other people who can use some of it. 

Disclaimer: The view expressed belong to me individually and are true for a very small cross-section of society. This is a gallery view to the lockdown times in the backdrop of a larger human misery and suffering that touches us every day and is inescapable

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