Coronavirus and the prolonged lockdown initially made people want to climb up the wall but as acceptance set in, they looked elsewhere to occupy themselves and discovered potentials they never thought they had, finds Anju Munshi
When the lockdown hit us, the world around us slowed down, the activities that we normally did, from working to enjoying social gatherings, came to an abrupt halt. All that we did was spend time at home with members of the family including elderly parents at times. We lost our space that we cherished and it also created tension at times being yanked from the comfort zone.
Once the inevitable truth started emerging about the virus and what our new lifestyle was going to be, many dipped in their own untapped potential to draw a new line. Realising that it was the new normal and they looked inwards to draw inspiration, simultaneously looking at things that one could do in the meantime and find happiness .
For some it meant going back to dusting old picture albums, cleaning the lofts, experimenting with old untried recipes, writing a diary. The biggest challenge has been to keep themselves busy without moping and maintain mental agility. People did their own haircuts, did sewing, growing herbs to fight the pandemic blues and in the process pleasantly discovered skills they had but did not know earlier.
“I was never good at stitching and designing but suddenly took to upholstering my dining table chairs as it was not possible to hire workmen due to the lockdown,” says Sujata Khandelwal, a software engineer from Delhi. She took the measurements, cut the fabric and glued it with the fabric glue and for a nicer finish topped it with recycled lace that she had at home.
“By the end of it I could not believe that it was my handiwork and had been getting lots of compliments. Today I am designing furniture for friends and very soon am going to launch my company,” she says proudly,brimming with a new found confidence .
Sports journalist Elora Sen showcasing her works at a Kolkata cafe
Culinary adventure has been another new discovery, sharing old recipes among friends and families, trying out new ones or relishing some traditional food items that only the local sweetmeat shops could make, and browsing the internet for recipes. This love for cooking became so satisfying and joyful that some women joined hands with Nanighar ,an initiative to give power to the culinary artists in each home. It is the authenticity of the meals along with handsome earnings and they have found a new career path for themselves.
Elora Sen, a sports journalist, got all the lockdown emotions on paper. She painted the lockdown moods and hues –sunrise, sunset and solitude at its best. Her friends admired her work , inspired her and from a friendly post on Facebook, Elora set on to have an exhibition of her work in Kolkata’s Café positive and to her surprise sold many paintings .
“I will continue painting no matter what. It's my pledge,” Sen says. Apart from appreciation she could also donate a decent amount to Anandghar, Kolkata, a home for HIV positive kids. “From every painting that I manage to sell, a part will go to this home .”
Ajanta Mukherji got onto learning how to play the harmonium . Karaoke taught her the pleasures of singing. “I am not stopping here and am recording songs and videos, making my album and also putting them on Youtube .”
Image credit: Unsplash
It seems, there was a need to pause, reflect and look within ourselves to search for untapped talent and creativity and once found , people are branching out in their favoured directions.
Psychologists find that the pandemic has dramatically changed the way most of us live and think.
Says Purnima Tulsidas, a consultant psychologist , “Although tough , the lockdown gave us time for soul searching and understand what is important in our lives and taught us to have our own viewpoint and assess our strengths and weaknesses and not how people perceive us . It has been a time to get introduced to ourselves and in doing so, we may have thrown away some emotional crutches to live our lives with.”
“Earlier, we seemed to always be looking for validation through social networking, giving unwanted controls to others on our psyche; as human beings we do have an exaggerated need for validation and acceptance,” Says Meena Panigrahi, a school teacher with two adolescents children.
“Cultivating a hobby is like making a friend and you never feel lonely and unoccupied,” says senior citizen Dhirendra Madan, adding, “No one likes to lose a friend after all. It has been a friend for so many months now,’
Is this trend going to stay when things become more normal? In the new normal , will we be able to sustain our new hobbies and pastimes? Only time will tell.