A Few Pandemic Habits Have Stuck On
Some good things have managed to stay post lockdown.
Blue collar employees have been working tirelessly in keeping this unrealistic wanton wasteful civilization afloat since time immemorial. They’ve diligently stocked the shelves at supermarkets, pumped gas into our vehicles, driven us to the airport, delivered food to our homes, and taken care of hospital wards. However, they’ve always been a neglected and disregarded part of society. They’ve always earned minimum wage, all while running families and working even two or three jobs to ensure that their children don’t fall into the same vicious cycle all over again.
However, the pandemic managed to cast a spotlight on their struggles, and the world now knows that the only reason we made it alive through multiple lock downs was because of the selfless sacrifice made by these essential workers. We aptly bestowed the tag “frontline warriors” upon them during the height of the pandemic.
But nothing much has changed for them since then.
The pandemic has made us realize the value of such workers and today many of us have a special regard and deeper appreciation for the work that they do. But that is just one of the many aspects of our daily lives that has been affected by the pandemic.
Here are 5 such changes brought about by the pandemic in my life that have managed to stay:
Being kinder to gig workers
Delivery agents from online food aggregators and e-commerce vendors have been delivering food parcels and products to our doorsteps ever since they began operations. But with the pandemic limiting in-person interactions and companies insisting on contactless delivery, we were forced to collect our packages from apartment main gates, or from the ground in front of our own houses.
However, even after cities have been unlocked, and with the virus still lurking in the air, Resident Welfare Associations are hesitant in allowing delivery personnel back into their environs for fear of contagion. Many families residing in independent houses also insist that delivery agents just leave their parcel at the main gate and leave.
This has come as a blessing in disguise for agents who are short on time with a bulk of orders to follow up and complete. In fact, if seen from the point of view of a delivery agent, shouldn’t this have always been the case? Realistically speaking, they don’t get a penny more for any amount of effort expanded after crossing our front gates.
Imagine someone living high up in the last block in a colony of apartments. A delivery agent must first cross security at the main gate, ride all the way to the block situated at the very end of the colony, take the lift to the topmost floor, and then make the delivery. All while working the very same targets and tight schedules of his counterparts, without any extra pay.
It’s for this very reason that I continue to collect my food parcels and product packages from the main gate of my apartment.
Delivery agents in India work in one of the most stressful environments in the world: Indian city traffic. Indian cities are quite merciless when it comes to traffic, and it can wear out even the most thick-skinned people in a group in no time. The agents have to travel across the city multiple times a day in mind-numbing traffic, come rain or shine, battle the mayhem caused by rush hours, VIP movement, vehicle breakdowns, floods, potholes, road closures, and everything in between to bring food delicious and piping hot to our doorsteps.
Working in my PJs
Admit it. You’ve felt that tight tug of your underwear elastic band or pant as you sat down to work. It always hurt, especially after lunch. I’m sure many of us must have experienced this at some point in our lives. Formal clothes are just not conducive to living. And since most of us live in our offices for the majority of our lives, doesn’t it make sense to wear something that’s functional and comfy? It seems that formals were not designed in the era of desk jobs, with everyone's seated waists pushing against the seams of their pants and underwear, preventing the stomach from expanding fully, cruelly inhibiting breathing and digestion.
We’ve always dreamed of working in our favourite loose fitting pyjamas or in more casual clothes like boxers or shorts. Thanks to the pandemic, that dream has now come true. The pandemic and ensuing lockdowns divided us into three camps of home workers: some of us worked wearing our usual casual clothes, some of us worked wearing nothing but undergarments, and lastly, some of us were more than happy to work without any pants on.
The newfound sense of liberation felt by our extremities with no tight underwear elastic or belts constantly tugging at our waists was not to be brief (pun intended) or transitory however, and many of us who were lucky enough not to be called back to the office follow the same dress code to this day.
Since my body didn’t get any exercise during the lockdowns, I wasn’t able to binge on any deep-fried delectables such as french fries, bitter-gourd fries, potato chips, and other yummy Indian snacks. I’d get terrible gas and bloating, and would be forced to walk around the house just to let it all out. Even though I’ve started moving around now, just thinking about all those episodes gives me the chills, and I actively avoid deep-fried food wherever I can. Barring a few road trips and treks where there is more movement and the cravings are intense, I stay off deep-fried oily foodstuff for the most part.
Staying at home
I’m an outdoor person who’s accustomed to trekking at least twice a month. But due to a multitude of factors; lockdowns, the mask mandate, “rush hour” traffic which in reality lasts all day long, and the fact that it’s just raining all the bloody time, I confine myself indoors even now. I visit my friends occasionally, and my office whenever I need to, but my frequency of outdoor trips has drastically reduced. Climate change has hit my city especially hard. It’s humid and pouring rain even in December, when blue skies and dry intense cold should have set in long ago.
I cant’ wait to start going outdoors again in the last week of this month when the real winter finally sets in and all the migrants fly away to their hometowns for the holidays, leaving the roads empty and streets deserted for us locals to bask in the winter vibes of an era lost to industrial growth and cosmopolitanism.
But the pandemic has definitely made me feel comfortable staying indoors. My new friends are Books, Documentaries, and Coffee.
Lunch in the sun
Since the pandemic struck, the only way I’ve been getting my daily dose of Vitamin D is by having lunch at my balcony in the afternoon when the sun is high up in the sky. Now even though we’re allowed to move out and about and I’ve restarted my daily runs, I still have my lunch in the balcony in direct sunlight for that much needed Vitamin D. Studies have shown that exposing yourself to direct sun daily for 20 minutes not only helps you get your daily dose of Vitamin D, but also helps improve mood, staves off depression, and improves your health and immunity.
Ever squint your eyes while getting out of a dimly lit office into the direct sun outside? That’s the vitality of the sun hitting you! We are a product of our surroundings and it’s no wonder that so many of us are constantly moody, depressed, or anxious after spending most of our waking hours in artificially illuminated, temperature controlled environments.
As much as I enjoy walking in the sun, I enjoy running in it too. Most of my friends will crib and curse when I ask them to come running with me in the sun. They’ll beg and plead for a morning run in the cool wintry breeze of the park. They’ll go running even on the coldest day of December. But they won’t run in the sun. This is what spending too much time within four walls does to you. You start detesting sunlight. And your body has a hard time coping with the outdoors.
With most office buildings open now, and many employees already working from them or slated to join in the coming months, we’re forced to say goodbye to our most beloved and treasured WFH habits.
Have you picked up any new habits which have still stuck on during the course of the multiple lockdowns ?
It could be a new behaviour, a new routine, or a new way of looking at things.
Do share them with me in the comments bar to the side.