Blessing in disguise: How Covid-19 is helping people reflect and reconnectDespite the financial and emotional stress the lockdown and social distancing has imposed, people are finding ways to reconnect with their families and themselves.
The pandemic and the lockdown has been a stressful time for everyone. The period has also given many of us the time to reflect on our lives, relationships, goals, and make new plans for the future. The Post talked to four youths, all under 30, from different walks of life, on what they have learned about themselves during the pandemic and how they plan to do things differently.
'This is the longest we have spent time together as a family'
Growing up, I didn’t get much time to spend with my family. I was 11 when I went to a boarding school in India, and after that, I went to Thailand for my university. All those years living away from family hadn’t really given us the time to understand each other, and the few weeks that I would come home were never really enough time for us to truly get to know each other. I always felt like they didn’t understand me, especially my dad.
A few weeks before the lockdown, I came home for what was supposed to be for a few weeks. But then the lockdown happened, and the few weeks have now stretched to almost three months now. This is the longest we have spent together as a family. Initially, there was a lot of friction. My dad and I argued almost every day, but over these months, things have become better. The time together has allowed us to understand each other and brought us so much closer, even helped us analyse our boundaries. I think my dad now understands that I am no longer the little girl who hated staying away from the family. I have also understood that what he says to me is not to threaten my independence and that he is just being protective because he worries I’ll be hurt and harmed the way he was when he was growing up.
When this ends and I return to university, we will continue to communicate more often with each other and at the same time give each other the space we all deserve.
The highlight of the last few months has been that I have made my dad give up smoking and drinking, both of which he had done since he was a teenager. For this, I am so proud of him.
Aeshashwy Joshi, 23, student
'Reflection itself has been a process of self-discovery'
Reflection itself has been a significant process of self-discovery for me during the lockdown. Having been relieved of the chaos of the day to day work, I have had the time to think about a lot of things, especially my professional life. I run an advertising agency, and I have on a lot of occasions compromised my creative fulfilment to cater to clients' demands. I have thought about this aspect of my job a lot, and that has served as a catalyst to pursue my stalled passion projects. So far, I have been able to put out a song, a video, and a couple of poems. I have also come up with new strategies for the company, and I am very excited about implementing them.
Another thing this lockdown has made me realise very strongly is the critical role youth play in bettering the country. I took part in protests demanding that the government do more to curb the spread of Covid-19 accountability, and I look forward to actively engaging in social activism.
All in all, the lockdown brought about a change in lifestyle from doing more research, reading, composing, cooking, journaling to conversing and connecting with family on a deeper level. I am looking forward to continuing it.
Abhishek Gurung, 27, brand consultant
'If things go well, I might not have to go abroad anymore.
In the second week of February, I returned to Nepal from Dubai, where I worked as a commis chef at a hotel. I had taken a two-month leave to attend a family function. In the third week of March, the lockdown began. Then things changed so rapidly in the following weeks that by the end of April, I was one of the dozens of staff laid off by the hotel.
I was 19 when I first went to the Middle East for work. I spent the following nine years working in different countries in the region, from Oman, Saudi Arabia to the UAE. I have missed out on a lot of things back home—I wasn't there when my wife gave birth to our first child; I wasn't there when my mother had to be hospitalised for two weeks. I always thought those personal sacrifices were worth it because I could provide for my family.
The months from February to now have been the longest I have ever spent time with my family in almost a decade now. Initially, I was very worried about the whole situation, as I had also been laid off. But as the lockdown extended and the infection rate increased exponentially, I started realising how fortunate I am to be with my family during such a difficult time. Now I am looking at the whole period as a blessing in disguise. Every morning, my brother and I go to the fields with our parents, we then milk our cows, and the evenings are spent munching roasted corn. I have missed these little things. My brother and I have had several brainstorming sessions, and we are soon planning to start commercial vegetable farming on some of the plots of land we own. If things goes well, I might not have to go abroad anymore.
Sagar Nepali, 28, farmer
'This period has taught me to be more thankful and empathetic'
Having founded Danfe Arts last year and done my first exhibition this time last year, I feel very nostalgic and emotional about how things were.
But that said, I am equally excited about all the art movements coming forward, the virtual exhibitions and new pop-ups of street art. We, as a gallery, have also started a local initiative for our art community. As a young curator in the art world, I think the future of art will be very different. I believe that art will become a more common method of expression now. People will create more and create without the responsibility or the burden of exhibiting their work or selling their work. I think artists will be encouraged enough to create art just out of passion and their love for it, and that is something I am very excited to see. I think this pandemic is going to bring about a new wave in our arts scene, perhaps more intriguing and unfiltered in many ways.
On a personal level, I have spent most of the lockdown immersing myself in some great books, films, and occasionally drawing and painting, and reminding myself of my privilege of being able to do that. More than anything, this period has taught me to be more thankful, empathetic and made me realise that it's so important to respect and preserve the relationships that we have with our friends and family.
Shivangi Bansal, 25, art enthusiast/curator