Embracing the New Normal

Ninety days in lockdown have already passed by in India. Most countries have successfully flattened the corona curve in their respective countries by strictly following lockdown guidelines and strict guidelines of social distancing and public hygiene.In countries like U.S and India , governments are again on the way to impose lockdowns after a short period of unlocking to let ease the public for meeting their day to day requirements and mainly with an eye on saving the falling economies. Except those going for work now , most people might already be feeling imprisoned in their own homes, staring at the same walls, missing social life and so on. All are just waiting with one hope, the exit of the small virus which is creating panic everywhere. Waiting eagerly for the final announcement by W.H.O. that the coronavirus pandemic is over and the end of lockdowns and shutdowns. Imagine that moment when we all can jump out of our homes to catch a sight of the streets that lay stranded for the past few months, the unattended many issues outside our homes, that are seeking our attention to be addressed and the list is endless. Going by the current statistics of the COVID 19 infection rates across the world, a picture comes to my mind. It might be very tough on the part of any government to completely do away with the series of lockdowns until a proper vaccine comes out officially. Perhaps an easing of lockdown rules over the next couple of months as it is being currently done in our country to save the country’s economy and to feed its people might be a way out to balance our day to day lives.

At the start of the pandemic, it was like a war between Humanity and the Economy. Lockdown was the only answer to such a threatening situation befalling upon humanity. It may be regarded as the last line of defence. Humanity was given the priority in almost all the countries. There was no other option but to save the human race from getting affected in huge numbers by this disease, thereby reducing pressure on the already overcrowded hospitals by announcing lockdowns. The economy can be revived if the human race survives the pandemic.

Imagine the day, you’ll be moving out of your homes after the lockdown to venture into the same world which you had left it outside for that small virus. Would you remain the same when you move out for any work, to socialize or to travel domestic or international? What about sending your children to the schools and colleges, when authorities would notify for the restart of the academic sessions that got lapsed in between? One fine day, if our governments announce that pandemic is all over now, no more curfews or lockdowns, would you dare to visit your favourite eateries or restaurants for some good food or a drink? If large religious congregations are permitted again, will you be a part of it? When borders are reopened and flights are resumed and you can travel again, whether for work or a trip – will you be excited to fly again? The answer to the above questions is a clear ‘NO’.

Everyone must be anxious about when this lockdown would end. But what if this lockdown ends, would you be the same person while outside your home? I am sure. You won’t. This situation may better be explained as somewhat like this. When any patient comes out of a coma, the doctors won’t allow him to go for work or party immediately. He will be asked for bed rest at home after being discharged from the hospital. He has to undergo a long period of gradual rehabilitation, of dietary and locomotive restrictions, of physiotherapy.

Also, there will always be a constant fear of a second surge in COVID-19 cases until the proper vaccine comes out. Witnessing the wrath of the coronavirus across the world since the recent few months, we all will be extremely guarded about how much we venture back into the world, how much we socialise and how much we travel and interact with people physically. Activities will shrink for sure.

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At this stage, the human race might already be imagining a  world of ‘Low-Touch and  High-Friction’ to survive tomorrow. Such a world would have two key characteristics. The first (the touch part) would be that people would be reluctant to gather in public as freely and easily like before. The second (the friction) would see a world where countries have shrunk back within their national boundaries with increased self-sufficiency and strong monitoring and surveillance. If we want to be part of the post-COVID-19 world, let us be ready for low-touch and high-friction. COVID-19 will bring in many changes in all spheres of life. Habits will change and there will be a shift in demand patterns. There will be an enormous increase in virtual gatherings, in remote working(work from home companies), in healthcare capacity and telemedicine, wide acceptance of online education worldwide and the mushrooming of e-commerce companies. Functioning through the cloud, online shopping, online streaming, change in eating habits, pre-emptive healthcare measures, emphasis on insurance, etc will gain prominence. New outsourcing opportunities could also come to Indian companies. There will be another set of opportunities that arise as nations retreat into greater self-sufficiency and local solutions. The recent topic “Vocal about Local” has already been discussed by our Honourable Prime Minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi a few days ago. His speech indicates about going local as the only current solution to save the economy and society.   According to him, “Every crisis brings with it an opportunity. Covid-19 is no different. Let us evaluate what might be the new opportunities or growth areas that would emerge now”.

If we want to sustain tomorrow, let us positively take COVID 19. Let us prepare ourselves for the new normal. Let us not wait for the dust to settle and for governments and medics to give the go-ahead. People are already imagining and adopting creative ways to get going, in any field, big or small. They are learning new skills in readiness. They are preparing themselves for different ways of working. Many small business owners are gradually making shifts by adopting the digital platform to reach customers. Some are seen shifting their existing line of businesses to the most essential goods and services sectors. In a nutshell, the new normal might be digitalization across sectors, focus on public health and hygiene(like adopting mask culture religiously or avoid spitting in public places etc), maintaining social distancing in public places or if possible avoiding unnecessary social gatherings.

 

 

Celebrating Eid in Lockdown days

In India, we have just entered the fourth version of the lockdown series. The number of positive COVID 19 cases have been rising incessantly, with the significant increase in the growth rate in recent times. If we look at Assam specifically, the situation is now moving towards tougher days with containment zones increasing  every day ,as more and more suspected cases are feared. Major business hubs of the country stand sealed now. In Assam too ,Fancy Bazar and many surrounding areas have witnessed such containment activities  in recent times to stop the spread. Government of India has given relaxations significantly in the current version of the lockdown with an eye on saving the economy, saving the society concerning our day to day life and living. However, these relaxations should not be mistaken by the public as going back to the earlier normal lives in the Pre COVID times.

In Assam, the festival season had already begun in April. Bihu, the biggest spring festival could not be celebrated with grandeur, unlike in previous years. In the Pre COVID times, Assamese people from various states of the country would gather at their home locations to celebrate Bihu along with their family and loved ones. Shopping spree, get-togethers, good food, stage performances have now become things of the past in recent times. As if the year 2020 has wiped off such grand moments from people’s lives. A cruel year for all humans on this earth. We are now made to believe by this small virus that festivals are now a matter of the heart. If we understand the underlying logic and meaning of every religious preaching, then celebrating the festival at homes would not have become this weird which we all might have been currently feeling. Festivals are an extension of what we were made to believe in various religions since time immemorial. It is high time to understand the actual spirit, the underlying meaning of every festival that we have been otherwise celebrating in grand scale until 2019.

Now, that Eid is just around the corner and the situation being critical, people must abide by all the rules of social distancing. Governments have highlighted the guidelines for strict adherence to social distancing and maintaining public hygiene. No mass gatherings or congregations in religious places will be allowed. The Muslim folk have already been abiding by the lockdown rules very well since the very start. It is evident on every Fridays when they are supposed to offer Jummah Prayer and also special Taravi Prayers at night during the holy month of Ramadan. These prayers have been peacefully offered at their respective homes in the lockdown era. However, at the very start of the lockdown, it was a bit tough to accept this new normal by a few Muslim followers in a few parts of the country. The same is true in the case of other religions too. There were a handful of cases in various places of the country flouting the rules due to ignorance, blind faith or lack of education.

Until 2019, whenever a festival was around the corner, people were seen thronging the markets and the malls to pick up the best dresses in town. Buying the best clothes in the festive season and getting decked up has now become a thing of the past. Let us now adopt the new normal overlooking these small things which were a matter of joy then. Let us now learn how to live our day to day lives around this virus. The virus will surely stay on this planet until a vaccine comes up. We must stop regretting of the good old days of shopping and dressing up, eating out the best dishes at home or the favourite eateries in town. Rather let us learn to be thankful to God that we are still alive till date to celebrate every festival that is on its way. The scale of celebration may be a minuscule now. But the happiest part is being at home, worshipping God at homes along with family and celebrating festivals at homes. Had we learned the essence and science behind every religion, I am sure we would not complain about celebrating festivals within the four walls of our  homes and without wearing new clothes. Thanks to the internet, at least we are connected virtually with almost everyone during tough times. The same situation needs to be thoroughly explained or educated to the young generation staying with us at our home confinements.Let us enrich our hearts with spirituality rather than blind faith in any religion. The vaccine is a matter of time but we humans have to live our lives  normally until the good news comes. As Eid is just knocking at the door, let us welcome it with a positive smile. Just like Bihu, we are ready to celebrate this festival too without new clothes, without visiting mosques and idgahs. Let this festival be a special and a memorable one  this year ,with an increase in spending on financial support to the needy and downtrodden  during pandemic times. Already, for all Muslim followers, during this festival it is mandatory to offer fitr and zakat(financial support to the needy and poor) during this holy month of Ramadan.

In a nutshell, I would like to conclude-Let this Eid be everyone’s Eid. A moment of sharing and caring for all the needy and poor people irrespective of any religion. If we feed our brain the true essence of the science behind every religion, we can overcome any situation, the toughest of tough situations too. We can learn to be truly happy without new clothes and good food too. To conclude, Eid is not only about wearing new clothes and savouring mouth watering dishes, rather it has a far deeper meaning. It is about feeling other’s pain and hunger. It is about brotherhood, caring and sharing. Even if someone is unable to do fasting due to some illness or medical conditions, but if one is generous enough to support the needy people around him or her during these tough times, nothing can be more rewarding than this. Let us emphasize more on the spirituality part of every religion. Let spirituality win over blind faiths of any religion. If this achieved, humanity wins automatically.  Eid Mubarak in advance!

Train your brain and stay protected.

TRAIN YOUR BRAIN

In these times of catastrophe, we human beings have to remain very vigilant about what is happening around our city ,in our nation and in the entire globe. With every passing hour, we have become so anxious about the latest updates, be it any new addition to the already growing list of positive COVID 19 cases. A war like situation indeed. Our fingers remain crossed .Eyes constantly glued to the television or the mobile phone or the laptop for any  good news about possible cure of this deadly disease. Its good to be optimistic no doubt. But times have really changed now .We just cannot afford to sit idle and blindly hope that the virus will soon go away. We  have to do away with this kind of attitude that  the novel Corona virus will not affect me, my family or my locality .We all remember the saying , “Prevention is better than cure”. Now is the time to follow the same in letter and spirit. Its time to become little more suspicious , little more careful in our daily transactions or interactions with the human world . Every single sneeze , spit and cough must be looked with an eye of suspicion if we are really committed to  fight the virus and achieve victory in the end . Its time we looked every object from outside that is entering our homes , as a possible carrier of the virus. The clothes and shoes we wore to the market, the shopping bags ,the groceries , the mobile phone, the wallet ,the handkerchief , the loose cash that came back from the shopkeeper or vendor outside our home , and the list is endless.  For ladies , there are few extra items that needs care-the scarves, the rings, the bangles, the purse and every accessory that is being carried by her while going out of doors needs sanitization.

It’s a war like situation outside our homes. The doctors and the paramedics are the frontine warriors and we public are soldiers in this war against Corona. Researches about the virus ,the symptoms and the vaccine are going on day and night across the globe.Nothing is concrete till date. With every single piece of information that is flowing across the internet, the television ,the newspaper and the online research journals , we are making best use of it to understand the complexity of the virus. More complex is the current situation in handling the state of affairs by the various governments of the world , regarding health as the priority sector .It’s an unprecedented situation. No one ever knew about the virus. No one ever handled such a situation in their lifetime. Even for the general public, maintaining daily lives with extra protection and hygiene is also no cakewalk, given our carefree attitude since ages.

The ignorance or unawareness amongst the uneducated masses  in understanding the complexity of the virus and the consequences of their ignorance may pose a threat to the greater society. The recent acts of insanity against the doctors and the police bear testimony to the above fact. A few law breakers across the country ,who consider themselves as brave hearts at such testing times are actually bringing harm to themselves and the society. What is more painful at this juncture is when educated people  start behaving insensibly and carelessly. This is clearly proved in the markets while disobeying social distancing and not maintaining public hygiene . Thanks to the government, finally masks have been made mandatory in the public places. This too could have been practised  well in advance by our educated or uneducated masses had they understood the complexity of the virus and its contagious nature. I also fail to understand the logic behind the long morning walks still practiced religiously by our so called health freaks. Are they really health conscious? Also , I am equally shocked to see the religiousness of most  people of our country. In the name of religion, most people were seen entering the temples and mosques to offer their prayers . Are they blind followers ? When ancient religious scriptures themselves themselves teach us how to tackle such a pandemic situation , it clearly speaks we haven’t read them well and doing just the opposite of what we should not do in these times. No religion teaches hatred .It only teaches love and care for humanity. When such a pandemic occurs , we are only taught that there should not be any movement of people across other places. Confinement  and containment are the only prevention tools until a cure comes out officially . This is another example of how prevention can be better than cure.

Therefore, now when we are still in  lockdown ,when we go out next time for any outdoor work, let’s take a deep breath and think twice. Let’s  train our brain in a different way. Although, its tough  to forget our past carefree behavior in the public scene ,with respect to daily transactions and social interactions.  Our approaches must change while dealing with the outside world. Gradually, we must feed our brain to be a little more suspicious for a good cause. Its good to think negative sometimes for the greater sake of the humanity. Being positive that nothing will happen to me and my family, might turn out into more Corona positive cases and cost many ignorant lives. We must consider everybody around us an asymptomatic carrier (a person showing no symptoms of Coronavirus) of COVID 19 and has every possibility of infecting us. Also let us consider too, that we ourselves could be an asymptomatic  carrier of COVID 19,capable of infecting all around ourselves. So it is high time now, let us train ourselves , by using all our knowledge about the virus, common sense and intelligence to tackle the unseen small but mighty virus. A small trick might save many lives in the coming future, “Do not get infected nor infect others”. Stay safe, stay sane and protected.

 

The world in a lockdown

global lockdown

Until a few months ago, probably the world had not heard about the word called ‘Lockdown’ . Life was going on the way it had always been. Suddenly , somewhere during the festive season in the month of December, some terrible news appeared in the various newspapers of the world. The origin of a virus called the novel Corona virus made special headlines in the leading newspapers. Initially it didn’t bother so much as it is now.The virus made its first appearance in Wuhan, a city in China. However ,all eyes remained on China as how the country was affected ,  how it had started and how it was being tackled over a short period of time amidst many deaths .In fact ,everyone was praising China looking at their quick assessment and quick tackling of the contagious disease. For the first time, China declared lockdown to contain the spread of the disease. They finally were successful in putting an end to the growth story of the virus with zero cases at one point of time. Recently it is heard that a second wave of the virus is sweeping the country again from the recovered patients.

Today, the story has taken a very different twist and is far more painful than one could ever imagine in history. Who knew 2020 is going to be the last year for most  people on this globe? The disease has been  exploding  at a massive  scale  globally . Until towards the end of mid March, the world had not known that it would one day be declared a Pandemic by W.H.O .It was already too late for most advanced nations in Europe and North America. People kept travelling from one part of the globe to another,there was no restrictions on their movement. Even after lockdown was announced by most nations , many countries were still not sure about the seriousness of the disease. Life kept moving as before .This had really taken a huge toll in countries like Italy, Spain, France and recently it is very very sad to see U.S. suffering so badly with the highest number of deaths recorded in the entire world.

As if its wartime now, or is this World War III.The entire world is under house arrest. The doctors and paramedics, the army ,the police are the warriors fighting for us day and night to wipe out the only enemy a small but actually big virus. Lockdown ,the only powerful weapon in our hands to check the spread . Already millions fighting for their lives in various hospitals .Doctors and nurses working 24×7 to save humanity .So many doctors had already sacrificed their lives while saving their patients.

For the first time in history, the most significant places of worship have been shut down to save humanity. At such a crucial juncture of our lives, we have seen our lives are also fast changing .The way we work, the way we buy our essentials, the way we seek medical help, the way we learn have suddenly shifted to the online mode in a big way. As if, if we don’t bound ourself to such a change, we shall never survive or win this big war against the virus. Although , we can go out to get our essential tings from the outside shops, we have to maintain social distancing and ensure wearing a mask and maintain all necessary hygiene to fight the small virus. 

I know , the world is already tired or bored of this lockdown .Its natural because suddenly we have forced ourselves to such a paradigm shift. But we must not forget, whatever happens ,happens for a reason. The world around us is repairing itself,cleansing its wounds inflicted on her by humans.  Pollution levels going down which is good for us. I believe ,with the passage of time, the world will have a medical cure against the virus and things will be normal .But my greatest fear right now is  if the lockdown is over, will humans forget these days? Will we take a lesson ? I just pray ,we must not forget this chapter of our lives .It should definitely be narrated to the coming generations for their knowledge and precautions of an ever changing world.

A spring of hibernation

I heard a thousand blended notes,
While in a grove I sat reclined,
In that sweet mood when pleasant thoughts
Bring sad thoughts to the mind.”

(Quoted from the famous poem “Lines Written in Early Spring” by William Wordsworth)

The above are a few lines which I have highlighted from the mentioned poem. Today’s times can be better related to such a moment as already experienced by the poet in the past.

What is the first thought that comes to one’s mind when we pronounce the word ‘Spring’? Broadly speaking, rejuvenation, rejoice, resurrection, regrowth and many other such words can definitely be associated with the word ‘Spring’ if we consider from the global perspective. A feel of freshness, sweet fragrance, brightness, colourfulness, hopefulness and the spirit of optimism rules everywhere across the globe.

Spring seasons have been best described and eulogized by the renowned poets starting from Shakespeare to Wordsworth in the bygone past. Poets across the world have always been inspired to write beautiful poems, during this beautiful season of hope and new beginnings. In Assam, Spring has a far bigger connotation than simply a season of colourfulness and freshness. Yes, we associate Spring with Bihu(Bohag Bihu), the most awaited festival of the year in this region. A festival of happiness, colours, good food, love and respect, prosperity and unity across diversity in the region.

 

However, this Spring had a totally different story to narrate to mankind. A lifetime experience of staying indoors, hibernating ourselves due to the global lockdown. A pandemic has been casting its ugly shadow on all of us since a few months ago, and now depriving us to celebrate our Spring festival too. The entire world is under lockdown or house arrest for the first time in history. Lockdown, the only short term weapon we have at our disposal to fight against the virus, to mitigate the spread across people or else the virus will spread like a wildfire through community transmission. A small but deadly virus is ruling outside our houses, in the streets, in the markets and everywhere. People are dying, getting affected in huge numbers everywhere. The fight for a vaccine is running across the globe to save mankind. Researches are going on unabated to find origins, nature and cure against the deadly virus. Schools, colleges, offices, places of worship and all other public places, recreation centres, offices all shut down to break the chain of the Coronavirus. The state borders and international borders are all sealed and under tight control. All domestic and international modes of transport remain suspended as there is no other way to stop the passenger traffic, to contain the virus.

 

The sudden declaration of the lockdown came as a bolt from the blue as it was a first time experience for all living souls of the human race. It took time for people to understand and adapt and today it has become a part of our life and it is like just another day. Of course, it took a little time for people living in remote areas or villages to understand the mighty virus and its repercussions on the human race. But today, people are readily adopting this new way of survival in crisis times like these. Governments across the world are working unitedly, sharing data, knowledge and information, medical know-how, quick support in terms of medicine, finance or any other medical kits or equipment. Thanks to the Cuban doctors when Italy was witnessing its worst days of lifetime. Thanks to the Government of India for your quick delivery of hydroxychloroquine medicines to the worst-hit U.S. At this war-like situation, one thing that keeps me positive is that we may be divided by national boundaries, but at the end, we all are connected by one common thread called “Humanity”. I just pray that such noble virtues should not go to oblivion once this virus gets eradicated forever. It’s only during bad times, realisations happen and if we humans can keep a note of these crisis times for brighter tomorrows, we definitely will have a sustainable and healthy future for coming generations too.

 

 A spring of hibernation

 

A comeback this International Women’s Day

Every woman on this earth needs a comeback!

Where did I stop last ? Does any one remember? Ha! Ha! I too forgot. A big big break indeed. Every now and then , my followers kept pinging on in my social media accounts or kept asking my hubby ‘Hey, where is she(me)? Why is she not writing any more ? We have been waiting so long’ ! And there my fellow lecturers and my seniors kept asking me and my hubby will I be joining the next semester. I wish I could give a direct reply. I still appreciate everyone’s love , support and longings’ for me. Already I had to skip two semesters in a row. One was planned due to my research work in India. The other was unplanned. This time I was enroute to Uganda along with my hubby . But it was not in my destiny to reach Uganda as scheduled. I had to return in between as my health broke down seriously in my first flight itself. During my last visit to India , I was actually loaded with multiple tasks or responsibilities ,family as well as career related. Everything was going fine . But health wise , most of us in the family had suffered a lot starting from my brother, my father and finally myself who is still undergoing diagnosis and various treatments .

Today , I am feeling somewhat positive and better . Also I feel some good vibes surrounded by the Indian Spring setting combined with the International Women’s Day feel in the air that is already blowing across in most parts of India. I suddenly got a whisper from my soul :”Why am I not writing” ? I am not doing right by feeling sick all time . Let me come back atleast on  this Women’s Day, when  the world will be busy celebrating International Women’s Day. I believe some organisations have already begun to show their love and respect for women by celebrating the International Women’s Week.  In my country, India , Hima Das ,a world famous athlete ,better known as the Dhing Express in Assam(India) has been offered the prestigious post of DSP , a high ranking official in the Indian Police.

At this moment , if things had gone according to my earlier plans, I would have found myself attending one of the most important conferences in Egypt conducted by Women Economic Forum, a renowned international organization of repute for women across different walks of life. Also this location was special to me because it is in Africa , one of my neighboring countries just a flight away.  Now is the situation when I can only imagine my presence attending the various sessions or going for tour trips after the discussions . Alas I missed it !  But its ok. I have learnt to be happy missing many things in life. But I realize now, that I cant stop writing . What I need is a comeback .So all women , let us all join hands together , whatever problem we are facing in any phase of our life , let us learn to accept it  but never lie down because it is only a matter of time. Brushing all hassles of life  aside , let us all pledge to build some space for ourselves and dare for that comeback!