Pandemic Conversations (Conversations - Part One)

    Pandemic Conversations (Conversations - Part One)
    2020 has been a year of many firsts.                                                                        
    First attempts at cutting hair, sticking to them workout resolutions and staying in for days.
    It has also been a year of many ‘after a long time’s’.
    Languor breakfasts slipping into grand lunches, resumption of passion in the form of needles and brushes, traded for paper money a while ago and warm afternoons filled with banter after a long time.
    ‘Conversations’ is an attempt to throw light on some mundane, every day and sometimes grave situations in a satirical way - all the things that make up the times and life in general. ‘Pandemic Conversations’ is a compilation of real-life situations, happening in every household in these peculiar times. There’s one for everyone here.                                                                                                                                        
    First, you take a drink, then the drink takes a drink, then the drink takes you.

    -F. Scott. Fitzgerald

    Ban on liquor sale in alignment with the lockdown across the globe has been met with a bitter taste. Inflated prices, black market setups and bootlegging are now rampant. While this might be the case, several people are taking to brewing their batches of alcohol at home, thanks to hundreds of video tutorials available online. And, those who were lucky enough to stock up earlier are probably on their fifth cocktail of the day. 

    Is there an in-between? We don't think so.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

    It stays on surfaces anywhere between a couple of hours to several days. It could be on a shoe, on a box or on a sofa someone just sat on. The paranoia of touching infected objects or coming in contact with an infected person is but normal during these times. As sanitisers and disinfectants are running out, people are turning to natural/homemade ways to make it themselves. Meanwhile, several small-scale F&B, chemical, Pharma and cosmetic industries are coming forward to produce the sanitisers and face-masks to donate, wherever necessary. 


    Everyone's getting a go at being Katniss Everdeen as people are taking turns in running errands for the household. With stocks running out, curfew hours, restrictions on the number of people and fear of infection; going out to bring in even a loaf of bread seem like quite a task now.


    The pandemic is hardest on daily wage labourers, drivers, maids, hawkers, make-shift vendors, migrant city-workers and several other low-income groups. Take any measure - big or small, to ensure their safety, health and security. Donate to causes that support them, help them directly, or purchase products from local sellers. Every small step counts.


    All dressed up and nowhere to go? Yes, us too.

    The ongoing pandemic is believed to have affected around 80% of the world's apparel market, the repercussions of which are predicted to outlive the pandemic itself. This is the first time after World War II that the clothing industry is facing a challenge that is so gruelling and globally alike. Survival instincts are kicking in and several brands are offering heavy discounts which seem to be the only way out of 2020. Pay cuts, unemployment and shutting down of physical stores is rampant. Digital content is in overdrive and most of the world is now guzzling content which is the only solace for businesses. However, this too remains a double-edged sword as there are several businesses, especially, the traditional garment-making industries spread across the developing world that do not have an online presence and are beginning to feel the impact of the situation. The Fashion Industry awaits a revolution - the only way forward.


    The death of a loved one, the end of a relationship, the loss of a job, failing health or a pandemic that is ravaging the earth are all scenarios that cause stress.

    People being subjected to stress respond in different ways - some overwork themselves to the brink of exhaustion, some let procrastination take over and more often than not people will cope by changing their appearance. Sometimes the change is subtle, such as a new shirt or a hint of lipstick, a new bob or sometimes it is as drastic as shaving off headhair or dyeing it a shocking purple. While we continue to see more of our friends, family, peers or ourselves do something drastic to our hair, it is indeed a healthy and normal reaction to stress.

    This is your signal to go and check on loved ones you've been wanting to for quite some time now.


    India's Lockdown which was set to end on the 14th of April has been extended until the 3rd of May. In a series of unprecedented moves, India's lockdown which began on the 25th of March was one of the harshest measures taken across the globe to contain the spread of COVID-19. Its total impact in mitigating the spread remains to be seen as strict measures are being taken across the country to keep its citizens indoors.


    Aside from doctors, pharmacists and healthcare workers, we have grocers, cleaners, garbage collectors, electricity department workers, sewage, sanitation and plumbing servicemen, essential service drivers, food deliverymen and many such brave women & men who are putting themselves at the frontlines every single day to ensure that our surroundings remain clean, our stomachs remain full and all our needs remain fulfilled. They are being true Superheroes. We see you, we hear you and we are with you.


    AT&T announced towards the end of March that the number of users streaming Netflix was at an all-time high and that it broke its data traffic record as people turned to stream services for solace amidst the lockdown. It has also said that it would be reducing overall bandwidth consumption by 25% in Europe, to meet rising demand.

    “If you are particularly tuned into video quality, you may notice a very slight decrease in quality within each resolution,” said content delivery VP, Ken Florance on Saturday. “But you will still get the video quality you paid for”. This doesn't seem to be a passing trend as in seven days, Netflix (NFLX) has risen by over 20%, climbing from $298.84 on March 16 to $360.27 on March 23.


    While the world retreats indoors and bakes up a storm (yes, we've made ourselves some banana bread too), the situation for the world's food producers and sellers is a whole different story. New Zealand has seen a significant rise in the number of groceries purchased. Fruit sellers in Kolkata and Patna are being forced to sell lakhs worth of the infamously banned Fuji Apples from China for throwaway prices. Grape farm owners in Nashik have 1000 quintals of perfectly good produce sitting at their farms unable to reach the customers. Farmers in Telangana are breathing a sigh of relief as the agricultural department in tandem with the government has taken several measures to ensure that 29,000 quintals of vegetables reach 20 lakh households, one of them being the 'Mobile Rytu Bazars' which are being lauded. Farmers around the globe are claiming that it's not the production process that is difficult, it is the part where their produce has to reach the customer that is a cause of great concern. Panic buying, fear of contamination, loss of mobilization and inflated prices are all affecting the livelihoods of several men and women that form the link between the food consumers and food producers.


    The TikTok application has been downloaded a total of 2 billion times globally and of that number, 500 million downloads as of March 12th this year have been made in India, followed by 180 million downloads in China and another 130 million in the U.S.A; with its high user engagement and availability in over 154 countries paired with its unique content, it is believed to continue to grow especially during the lockdown when there is a surge in the number of online users. 

    As the cases in India continue to rise, the government has extended the lockdown until the 3rd of May and even further in some states. Selective relaxation in non-containment areas is being observed while strict rules continue to govern areas marked as red zones. Stay indoors and work on your TikToks!


    The spread of the COVID-19 has rendered even the holiest, busiest and most important of places paralysed. Varanasi, one of the world's and India's most visited holy cities has been declared a hotspot. Entry and exit of residents have been completely banned (including that of several foreign nationals staying in various hotels and establishments). Tough calls are being made across several cities spanning the globe to contain the spread.


    While the U.S. based video conferencing platform, Zoom, remains banned in several countries as it has been termed unsafe due to several personal calls being available on the open web, the Indian government has taken upon itself to provide a solution and is set to launch 'Say Namaste' which is touted to be a safer and secure alternative to Zoom.


    If no one has said this to you, that unibrow looks fantastic on you! A major percentage of livelihood for women across the globe is the beauty industry and in an industry that is based primarily on human interaction and touch; it is but unavoidable to incur losses during a pandemic.

    Hairstylists, make-up artists, manicurists, facialists and several personal care entrepreneurs are struggling to retain their businesses.
    Beauty salons and parlours across the globe have been reporting fewer customers since the beginning of February. Some beauty businesses, however, have been making radical moves to remain relevant by turning to the production of soaps, disinfectants and sanitisers. Industry experts are pushing the government for lowering the tax slab (which is 18% for beauty services) which will be useful in attracting customers.

    Meanwhile, how the notion of beauty changes across the globe as more and more people are taking to social media to showcase themselves at their natural best remains to be seen. Beauty is evolving as we speak and we are looking at a more inclusive definition of what is beautiful on the horizon; with people growing out their eyebrows and body hair, going makeup-free, and paying more heed to self-love and healing.


    Caffeine is the only psychoactive drugs widely consumed across the world in an unregulated manner. 

    Once it enters your system, it stimulates the brain hence making you more mentally alert and decreases fatigue. Several people across the world begin their day by consuming considerable amounts of caffeine which they swear is what makes the day bearable for them. Like all drugs, medical and non-medical, caffeine is good for you when taken in moderation and too much of it can lead to several ill effects. While the world retreats indoors this summer, the new Dalgona Coffee trend has been gaining a notorious reputation for giving people some major FOMO.


    A delicate balance of dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin and endorphin is pre-requisite for you to feel happy, successful and deliver your best to all aspects of life. How this delicate balance is achieved is a combination of not one but several aspects of your life such as your circadian rhythm, immunity, diet patterns, physical activity, climate, the temperature on a given day, emotional intelligence, coping mechanisms and these are just the tip of the iceberg. As we all find ourselves laden with extra time saved from the commute to work or simply lack work, we feel the need to be 'productive'. It can be as simple as waking up early, reading a book, cooking or something ambitious such as filming content for a video channel, writing a book, or getting a Greek God bod. The scales of these are subject to switch. 

    Automaticity is the central driver of habits, and yes you can develop a habit in 21 days; provided it is something along the lines of walking for ten minutes every day, drinking an extra glass of water and the like. The number of days that are required to achieve the 'automaticity' in your brain rise as the complexity of the task at hand rises. So don't beat yourself up if you cannot build a rocket by the time the lockdown is over!


    While exercise comes with a legion of benefits most of us find an even bigger set of excuses to avoid it.

    The story has changed a bit this year, thanks to the COVID- 19 pandemic which has forced people indoors with not much else to do besides basic activities. People across the globe have been working on their bodies and minds at previously unprecedented levels. Workout challenges are bringing friends and peers together over social media while several fitness houses are doling out workout classes online, family workouts are now a new bonding mechanism and self-care is at an all-time high. People are modifying their diets to boost their immunity, taking up yoga, running, dance and more to improve their health in response to the ongoing pandemic. People are preparing themselves to be in a fitter and healthier space so that they will be a better place to fight should they contract the virus.


    The surest way to a man's heart is through his stomach has proven to be quite a norm these days as households gather around the kitchen and plan their meals for the day. Since eating out is not an option anymore, take-out is available in select areas and very few countries have the required measures in place that would qualify the take-out as 'made with caution', it is but inevitable to rustle up the meals of your dreams in your kitchen. While Indians are turning to their ancient recipes to boost their immunities and are generously adding turmeric, ginger and spices to their meals, America is busy making the starter for sourdough bread.

    "One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well", said Virginia Woolf and we hope you are all eating to your heart's content.

    Curated and Written by Trishala Nara and Yashila Nara

    You can follow them on Instagram @trishala_nara and @yashilaaa

    1 comment

    • I’m so glad to have come across this article <3 enjoyed reading it


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