I always thought that my generation did not witness any great calamity – no World Wars, or Emergency, or epidemic. Since my birth, there were medicines for most illnesses and the solution to every health problem was to visit a doctor and pop some pills. However, the lockdowns have raised a number of existential questions in my mind. Take for example, my career as a standup comedian.
As I watch medical professionals and policemen go about their jobs, I wonder what I was contributing to the world as a comedian. It makes my jokes seem silly, my sets irrelevant. My career as a film critic has also come to a standstill, and the encyclopaedic information about cinema that I have amassed over the decades amounts to zilch. As a humour writer, I struggle to find the funny in a world where hundreds are dying everyday without a cure.
I have generally been a cynic and a pessimist in life. If you give me a glass half-filled with water, I’ll first ask if the water is RO treated. But spending weeks at home has taught me that in times like this, we can only maintain our sanity by looking at the positive side of things.
Firstly, there is no need to attend meetings anymore. I have always wondered what was the need to attend meetings. We live in a world of 4G connectivity, and yet, every boss in the world requires you to sit in front of them during meetings. For a one-hour meeting, one has to wake up early, get dressed, brave the incessant traffic, and attend a meeting where only one person talks. Thanks to the lockdowns, organisations have suddenly discovered the joys of video conferencing. If the lockdowns go on for a few more months, it might forever change the way organisations view human resources.
The other positive is the focus on fitness. In the absence of a cure, fitness is our strongest weapon against the virus. However, the biggest obstacle to personal fitness used to be personal trainers. Every gym had Rambos and Rockys walking around flexing their inhuman biceps. With music by Honey Singh and Badshah blaring from the speakers, working out was more about blocking out the noises first. However, with the lockdowns, one could workout from home, simply by playing a YouTube video.
Perhaps, the greatest positive of the lockdowns is that we are now forced to become independent. India might not be a developed nation yet, but the dependence on domestic helps to do menial tasks like cleaning and washing is shocking. While it is tragic that many workers in the unorganised sector will remain without work, perhaps it will teach Indians that we are enough to clean our own homes.
The lockdown has also taught us to start cooking food on our own. Yours Truly has recently discovered that most Indian cooking involves the same process of adding the same masalas. Not only is it extremely de-stressing, it makes me question all the money I spent on food-delivery apps in the past.
But perhaps the greatest lesson for us all is one of humility. The lockdown has shown us our place in the world. That we are not invincible, and cannot continue using the world’s resources like play-dough. That the greatest use for our hands is by washing them and staying indoors.