Lockdown Experience and Lessons

Article by: Vanishree Deepak, Learning & Development Head for a Fashion House

The last five months have been an unprecedented time in the history of our generation. Needless to say, it has been laden with a ton of realizations and learnings. A health scare went straight from occupying the pages of our newspaper to maneuvering our lives. Every aspect of our daily routines began to unravel their complexities and flaws to us. We simply had too much time on our hands to dismantle every action and learned habit. Whether or not you checked for your wallet and keys before heading out, you definitely checked for your masks and sanitizers. The world had grown habits overnight.

What the pandemic has primarily made me realize is that we as a race need to unlearn so many things. We have normalized our blatant disregard for everything until it comes knocking at our doors. We routinely turn a blind eye to this wonderful symphony of biotic and abiotic beings that we harmoniously live with. We are entitled creators of God. We do not so much as look beyond the comfortable bubble that we live in. Guess what? That bubble has burst.

The exposure of the virus doesn’t understand the hidden terms of your entitlement. Your material possessions cannot buy its interference. It has made this society equitably at risk. And people are now forced to bend. 

To bend- to the wrath of nature, to the unknowns, to the callousness of their own kind and to destiny. As most of us scramble through each day trying to keep ourselves sane and safe, let us at least now come to terms with our insignificance. We are but a hair’s breadth in this universe’s play and there is a galaxy of experiences that shall unfold itself onto us. The only surety in this dynamic world, is that we are all in it together!

To sum up, the pandemic taught us a few good lessons to guide us in going forward:

  • We really don’t need much to live.
  • A satisfying life is the one that is lived mindfully.
  • We now know the heightened importance of being resilient.
  • Our individual actions matter.
  • The virus doesn’t discriminate.
  • We coexist with nature.

Stay safe, this too shall pass.

Till then we need to redefine our priorities and bring us closer to ourselves.


MLM: Musings of a Locked-up Mother

Article by: Lakshmi Vijaykumar, Senior Manager, Media & Public Relations

It has been more than four months that all of us are settling down in the new normal. Wait, have we settled in the real sense?

For starters, let’s define the new normal.

Normal (n): The usual typical unexpected state of a house where nothing is in order and one has to walk on landmines (read: toys, pencils, erasers, newspapers, towels et al).

The Coronavirus Pandemic has ensured that all of us stay cooped up in our respective homes with our “loved” ones. The days or even the nights have been blurred into one. Don’t even get me started on my attempts to leave my loved ones at my house to disappear in an atmosphere called “The office”! An office that was a platform for “me-time”, conversations both meaningful and casual with real people in the real world, and much more!

The new “normal” has ushered in an era for working moms where social distancing is practised externally, but inside the houses, children are yet to discover the meaning of the phrase. They are in constant touch with us and we cannot report to the authorities. By the way, my 8-year old daughter popped in some 10 times as I completed the first three paragraphs of this article. That’s the first layer of MLM – Musings of a locked-up Mother!

The new “normal” has ensured that there is no morning rush to pack multiple dabbas. But the working mothers have learnt to feed their children three meals and some 500 snacks in a day! We have even got innovative with our culinary expertise. We serve “red kidney beans cooked in rich tomato gravy with exotic spices on a flat bread”. And, there is tamarind infused hot & sour sauce boiled in home-ground spices served with fried chips as entrée. We cook a large quantity of something hoping that it lasts for the next meal only to find the pot empty in one meal. Is this what they call, One Pot One Shot cooking?

The other layer of lockdown days is discovering the Savage mom in me. In the first quarantine month, my family comprising two kids and a husband had what I called as “choice day”. So, each of them savoured their favourite dish every day. In the fourth Quarantine month, they still are provided with choices. This time it is simple – Take it or Leave it!

Yes, this is that layer of Covid-19 that no one is talking about! Scheduling grocery delivery for the next day on an online store feels like a celebration now. Not to mention that the delivery man is the most anticipated guest in our house.

They say, necessity is the mother of all inventions or termed the “Jugaad” in this part of the world. So, making use of the “social distancing” era, I tried a few jugaads too on inventing home-made anti-corona medicines, thanks to the Whatsapp university. But none of my inventions could go pass the first phase of trials, as my human guinea pigs ghosted me on those critical trial days.

I never imagined myself in a position of providing my children with their education. In the new stay-at-home days. I have mastered the art of conducting tests, finishing their classwork as well as homework (is there a difference?) and not scream at the insane hours of sitting up late to dole out school worksheets. 

And, finally I had the Mother of all Revelations. When the enforced lockdown began, I promised myself to stick to my workout routine, or the least (note this word) maintain a diet that would if not anything else help curb my weight gain. With the endless washing, cooking, chopping, stirring up a green salad is an added item in the menu. The phrase, “healthy food” has flown out of the kitchen window replacing with “Stick-to-me” type of items. It would be a “medical miracle” if I don’t weigh 10 kgs more than what I did Before Corona!   

Finally, the Pandemic has taught us an important lesson – both Mothers and Fathers are at present facing a re-organization of both work and care-giving time at home. While working mothers are actually busy integrating work and life, fathers are busy too lending their hands in their Whatsapp groups. No offence meant, there is a huge population of men out there who genuinely have begun to help their women folk at home. The Pandemic is likely to change the age old Patriarchal mindsets in Indian homes. This in the long run will (hopefully) have a positive effect on the productivity of both men and women professionals in a Post Pandemic world, if I may say so.


FIVE RITUALS THAT WOULD BE USEFUL FOR WOMEN POST COVID-19

Article by: Shobhika Ramanathan, Associate Research Analyst

There is a powerful saying by Eleanor Roosevelt which reads as, “A woman is like a tea bag – you can’t tell how strong she is until you put her in hot water”. The situation in which we are living now is exactly the HOT WATER phase for all and especially for women. It is for her to decide that whether she is going to come out as a cup of refreshing hot tea or just remain soaked.

Women are said to be stronger than men generally because of owning the ability to come out of any situation sooner. But without action words are just ‘words’. The current situation is just a testing phase for everyone. To come out of this is to leave the ‘fear’ which rests in us. It is left to us that whether we ‘compete’ against them or to ‘submerge’ in them.

Nobody would have even dreamt that the start of a new decade would be a bag of surprises – not a good one though. Due to this pandemic, there has been a terrible drop in the economy with many companies actually opting for recession. Jobs are now accompanied by a bad friend – ‘Insecurity’. All women are ‘Left and Right Handed Batsman when it comes to the game of life’. Wondering why? Compared to men, they are to manage both their life at home and life at work with equal concentration, without which a Home would just be a House. This time is hard for men but even harder for women.

 There is a ‘New Normal’ waiting for us ahead of this pandemic. Life would never be the same like before. There would be many changes in the work environment after this disaster. For men, they can adjust to their routine provided but for women, certain things can be tough. Thus, they must have a new plan for their daily work.

Let us see the new 5 rituals that will suit HER to abide by, after this COVID period subsides.

Home Is the New Office

All around the world, there are many organizations that have started to provide many policies for women i.e. flexible work from home – She can decide the time of work for the day. Already saddled with her office work, household chores, and childcare, she is already powered down. But since this situation is going to prevail for a little longer, this puzzle has to be solved soon. Better Sooner than Later! Gear Up!

Ask For Help

Do not hesitate to ask for help or even do one. Wherever possible, extend help to your family, co-workers, teams, and the community at large. The world knows that you have more burden in your shoulders. You can also share your work if it is too much to handle. Have a word with your manager/boss whenever you feel stuck. When your time is tough, remember there is always another person in your life to share it with.

Exercise to Energise

Dear ladies, it is important to first take care of yourself. Take nutritious food and try to exercise at least half an hour to be in-line with your day. Energise your fellow mates around you. Be Positive, Spread Positivity!

Resilience Is the New Mantra

Being resilient is itself a solution. It is true that no-one on earth predicted or were ready for this pandemic. Attaching to the feel of panic does not make this better. It is through these times that you can discover yourselves to be strong. Get back to your childhood! Remind yourself of your hobbies and do those while you are out of track. Be in contact with your colleagues and chit-chat to get relax you mind. It is OK to feel low… provided you BOUNCE BACK soon!                         

Time Table Should Be On Table

You might have come across this – “Better three hours too soon than a minute too late.” Yes! It is important that you manage your time in the right way. Take a pen now. List all the things in 2 separate lists. Things that you want and things you need to do for the day. Sort them out and figure out a final list with timings mentioned beside it. “Stick to the plan” and start your day. It is not the time which decides your start of the day, it is you who should decide it. Anytime can be your start point. So if you are not on track now, pick up your Time Table and get set for your day!

Do not worry about the situation that you are facing now. Do your job right and every other thing will fall in its place. Another famous quote reads – “The Greatest Job Security Is Performance”. Do remember that. Let us not turn back but look forward to a better future with the help of an optimistic sight!

“She was powerful not because she wasn’t scared but because she went on so strongly, despite the fear.” – Atticus.


Covid and Stress: A three-angle view

Article by: Athira Premarajan, Research and Content Development Associate

Having a positive mentality helps. And that is what makes us enjoy the quarantine trolls and lock down day – xy cooking. It also helps us stay away from all the fear and worry the Pandemic had unleashed. Among the umpteen chapters that Covid has opened, the dangerously active one is stress. It was all a merry phase until the boredom leapt into loneliness and anxiety. And that leads to what can be called a pandemic syndrome.

One thing we all need to understand is that quarantine doesn’t mean something just for ‘you’. The entire globe has been put on hold for achieving a complete recovery. However, it is an understandable fact when someone loses their conscience when the situation goes topsy-turvy. And when you watch the events happening around, the tension tightens, making you vulnerable and unable to access a calm mind, even though you are familiar with the fact that you are not in it alone, but together with all the people around the world. This helplessness, fortunately, can be cured with some ‘social medications’.

The boss’ say:

There is never a better chance to unveil that withheld caring approach from the masquerading tough tone. Or sometimes you may be their ‘boss buddy’ already. And so, this is the perfect time to let your employees know that you are the leader who shows the way. The condition the pandemic has exposed has a predominant effect on the work one does. This overlapped by loneliness will affect their stability, in turn making them lose their mind. More screen time with less physical interaction makes them equivalent to machines. And to add on, the economic transformation that they think is going to affect them mostly. So, they think it is work their comfort bubble, which voluntarily makes them feel the need to work longer hours to hit the boredom. This not in long-term effect, but a very short span effect that can affect them adversely.

As a boss, your commitment during these testing times should be to extend your hand to relieve your employees from the social isolation paranoia. The only thing you may need to do is listen. You are dealing with an anxious person who is anticipating a doubtful career and future. Be the compassionate guide who assures only positivity. Ask them to not overwork and suggest spending time on their hobbies or likes. If they hear this from their boss’s side, there needs no other assurance for them to lean on to normalcy. On the other hand, it is also important to watch out for yourself. Engage with your counter-partners to gauge the different approaches or measures you could take. And, if you think there is a lot on your plate, it is advised to get professional help. Only prevention helps, not avoidance.

To the double-duty warriors:

You are doing a wonderful job. With schools closed and child-care facilities locked down, one can imagine the tiring weekdays of yours. Kudos! To each and every one of you.

Studies confirming psychological challenges to rise-up for working parents post Covid, it is imperative that you take certain measures to curb it before it intensifies. As the pressure on working parents is certainly huge when compared to other professionals, the first measure should be to compare your work with your own strength. It is easier to commit to extra hours when you see your counterpart doing it who has fewer responsibilities. But, take a look around before you commit to any new assignments. It is also a blessing that most of the organizations and managements understand and cope up with the pandemic struggles specially for the working parents – especially for working mothers. So, communicate your challenges, get the achievable target in hand, and commit yourself to complete that with all your potential.

Another challenging part of your routine is to handle kids. You cannot complain as they are also restless as us, as not being able to run around outside and meet their friends is an option now. So, deal with them politely and ensure to involve in game nights and movie nights at least twice a week. Activities and getting involved like how they like it will make you the star and make them happy as well.

The pro-view:

Studies have already confirmed the aftereffects of the pandemic on the mental stability of professionals. So, it becomes crucial to note the essential measures to avoid any adverse conditions that may come up – especially for working parents.

Some useful hacks:

Self-analyse your potential: Quarantine days have unleashed a ‘workaholic wave’, which was a voluntary action of many professionals to prove their potential to their managers. What one needs to know is to ensure the tasks in hand is manageable. Know that you are working the same amount, in fact, more than what you used to do while in office.

Family face-time – A must-do: Social distancing is to keep you away from the virus. A five-minute call with your family can help release a lot of stress that has been accumulated in. In the case of working parents, your children will build the special bond with their grandparents, given their limited access to interact with their class buddies and other routine games which they used to play with neighbours.

Consume healthily:  A major threat to any disease is nutritional food. If you are not aware, know that your body has a self-healing power. And the best treatment for both your physical and mental stress is to eat good homemade food.

So, that’s all folks – essential but simple hacks that could help you during this uncertain time. You are the essential part of your life and so ensure you take care of yourself. Stay healthy, stay safe.


Corona or Dalgona?

Article by: Athira Premarajan- Research and Content Development Associate

You know how it works. Fresh today and gone tomorrow. That’s the pace of social media trends. There was a time when a ‘winking beauty’ from Kerala, took over the social space of the entire world. Though it stayed for a little longer than anticipated, it was long forgotten the very next week! Now trending are the frothy Dalgonas. This will forfeit too. So will the Corona.

Rising to the challenge is not new to any human being. We have learned to survive the odds even during the hardest of times. Journeying through the most unprecedented times of the century, we are slowly regaining our world step-by-step. In this process, the role of technology in leading us is huge. It has opened the window of possibilities and opportunities – Learning from home, cooking from home, celebrating from home, invoking from home, working from home, et. al. Among this, the popularity, reach and requirement of ‘remote working’ or ‘work from home’ concept tops the list.

Though it was already in the scene, remote working had not gained limelight until recently. The social stigma that sustained with remote working was long gone within a couple of days since the outbreak. Although, it is sad that a pandemic had to teach us the vast possibilities of the different tools and products made by humankind. Anyway, better late than never! This opportunity has proved the world – both employers and employees, the availability of alternatives. This has made a huge impact in the lives of millions of women – who are trying for a job with flexibility, who has requested for flexible working hours, and for those of who wants to balance familial duties and earn, working from home. Now, just to list out the benefits, how has this window of opportunity given the women workforce a breath of fresh air? Let’s find out!

Time for Dalgonas (*wink*):

Working moms often are seen working tirelessly towards bridging the gap between her kids and her motherly duties. This unexpected vacation has given her round-the-clock chance to bond with her kids, dishing out their favourite snacks and of course, the trending Dalgonas!

Update and Upgrade:

Skill building is an essential aspect of any business. In lieu of the time spent on travelling, working moms can now focus on upgrading skills and knowledge from the vast ocean of courses, webinars and workshops available online.

Multi-tasking and Crisis management at its peak:

Going through sibling crisis is a more complicated task than even the pandemic, a mother would agree. Not saying this would give her a certification but, surely does this innate talent helps in her everyday tasks, especially in her work. Prioritising also falls under this.

Better Control of Finances:

With online services shut, travel expenses hitting zero, and complete home under control, financial matters have never been so much easier. The cognitive capability of women takes a new spin every time while planning the week, accurately listing the requirements, which again benefits them in their work to better plan and process.

In the Comfort of Home:

Productivity is never better when you work from home. Believe it or not, it is proven as well as approved! Nothing better than the comfort of one’s home to concentrate and get creative.

Women are the masters of handling situations. Be it at home or away. In the era where we are proceeding with our baby steps to incorporate AI in every field, our world is not far away in reaching the sci-fi imaginations. Women, nevertheless, we can all agree, are beyond imaginations – their strength, capability, discipline and perseverance, most of which are her innate qualities.

Though the scenarios may differ than what is mentioned above, with the lack of domestic aid and online food services, we sure can find time for doing our favorite hobbies or learning new things. Understand that no one has their day planned accurately. Pull out one hour from those lazy evenings or preferably weekends, to rejoice and explore what you loved doing or what you always wanted to do. Look at the brighter side and make use of this unexpected vacation to procure expected and productive outcomes.