HYDERABAD: While on one side the pandemic plunges societies into chaos, a handful of strong-willed souls are trying their best to keep calm and not let the ‘Chinese virus’dictate how they live. They have been abiding by the Covid guidelines but are also trying to live as normal a life as possible, thereby lifting spirits
Let’s not let this pandemic win over us. It has already driven a wedge between human relations by shoving us into isolation bubbles. It has forced us to think twice before meeting our loved ones, giving them a warm hug and having an intimate conversation with them at the dinner table. Today, maintaining distance from our family and friends is the only way to keep them close to us. What an irony, but it is the ugly truth.
As Covid-19 continues to wreck livelihoods and businesses, the world — while gasping for breath — holds on to the last thread of hope, the vaccination. While on one side the pandemic plunges societies into chaos, a handful of strong-willed souls are trying their best to keep calm and not let the ‘Chinese virus’dictate how they live. Don’t get them wrong... They realise the gravity of the situation and have been strictly abiding by the Covid guidelines, but they refuse to give up on life.
They find a way around it, sometimes even risking their own health, just to get the job done. They think out of the box and burn the midnight oil because for them, the show must go on. We speak to some prominent personalities of Hyderabad to know how they’ve been coping with these tough times while hoping for a better tomorrow.
Priyanka Chigurupati, Executive Director of Granules India & Granules Pharmaceuticals
Priyanka has not stopped working because of the pandemic. Even when the first wave of Covid-19 was at its peak in 2020, she traveled to the US on official work. “I have already visited the US four times during the first and second wave. My job requires me to travel between the US and India so these are not pleasure trips by any means. The only sense of relaxation there was that I could return home from work and sleep. In India, I would come back home and get on calls with those in the US. The other breather was just being able to go to a restaurant in the US, go grocery shopping was such a luxury.
India back then was still in lockdown,” she says. Holding such as high post comes with responsibilities and the second-generation entrepreneur has had to face immense business pressures in the last one year. “It is an incorrect assumption that all pharma companies have been enjoying phenomenal numbers and growth during the pandemic. We’ve had a ridiculously difficult year and things seem to be getting worse. That said, I believe having being able to run the facilities at close to full capacity was an achievement by the team,” says Priyanka.
The second wave, which seems more intense as compared to its successor, has shocked Priyanka, who never imagined she’d witness such a scenario in her lifetime. “This is worse than war and our country seems to have done nothing to improve the healthcare infrastructure after what it went through in 2020. To see people fall one after another is heart wrenching,” she says. But everybody needs to have a fire on the inside to keep moving. If there is no fire, there’s very little one can do to be motivated.
Gaurang Shah, fashion designer
The pandemic had dealt a massive blow to the city-based fashion designer. He had to shut his brick-and-mortar business across the country during the 2020 lockdown, but Gaurang did not lose heart. “The new normal has taught me to focus on digital platforms and it has been a successful experience so far,” Gaurang, who specialises in Jamdani weaves, says. The biggest challenge staring at him was keeping his weavers motivated during the pandemic.
“I made several trips to meet them. Also, I wasn’t a believer of digital platforms, but the pandemic has taught me to embark into newer digital strategies to stay connected with my clientele. I launched my e-stores and by-invite digital stores for brides and bridegrooms, which is a big hit now,” he says. But Gaurang misses exploring arts, architecture, temples and heritage sites, which inspire his designs.
A few months ago when the curve was flattening, the designer was hoping to resume his travels. But the sudden surge of new variants has again put immense pressure on his businesses and client interfaces. ‘‘This too shall pass. I urge everyone to wear a mask, because if we are protected, everyone is protected. Let’s stay strong and conquer this pandemic,’’ he signs off.
Chaitanya Muppala, CEO, Almond House
Chaitanya, another young entrepreneur, believes in action over lip service. Right from scheduling doctor consultations for his staff to ensuring that they keep in touch with their families, he says ‘if we don’t do it, who will?’ ‘‘Traveling today is a death sentence. And some of my employees’ families live in far off villages. We’ve taught them all, even our watchmen, how to use Zoom so that they can connect with their families on a daily basis.
We will also see to it that they are all vaccinated in the first week of May,” he says, adding that he is blessed to have such committed people as his employees. The pandemic has failed to stop Chaitanya and his around 500 employees, who have seen less than one per cent infection rate. According to him, the battle in Hyderabad is just beginning and the people have to act collectively to ensure that the pandemic does not win over them.
— Himabindu Reddy
himabindugopinath@ newindianexpress.com @himureddy