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Anecdote/Opinion

The Quarantine Post: A Note on The New Normal

The world is reeling from the COVID-19 pandemic. Almost half of its population has been under some kind of quarantine or lockdown for about a month.

[And I have been diligently cleaning, cooking, reading, writing, watching Netflix and occasionally painting coasters. Hey, whatever keeps us sane these days, right?]

The anxieties of these times are difficult to describe. Firstly, we don’t know which friend or acquaintance is going to kick the bucket. It is probable that some people we know will get diagnosed with the coronavirus and will, most probably, recover. Most of us will get through unscathed to the other side.

But what waits on the other side?

The “new normal” they’re calling it. The coming year or two will be challenging. A worldwide economic recession is guaranteed. The world on the other side of this pandemic, might look very different… There might be changes in laws, in social conduct. Governments could easily impose restrictions that help ensure minimal chances of another epidemic. There might be a surge in the number of people who prefer WFH. There might be new and improved protocols for health emergencies and more interaction between AI and the health sector to increase chances of identifying threats to public health in the future.

These are, of course, the possible good outcomes.

The bad outcomes range from bioterrorism to an extended economic crisis that ensures this generation and the next work until 65 years of age to rebuild the global economy.

Let’s hope it doesn’t go there.

Here’s what I’ve specifically been doing to keep my sanity.

1. Petting Thomas. Thomas, our pet cat, has been a reliable care animal. As long as he gets his crunchies and water, he’s super cuddly to be around.

2. Cooking new dishes from minimal ingredients. This is fun, because it’s sort of like preparing for doomsday. Or, being in a really stingy MasterChef finale.

3. Keeping news intake to once a day. I’ve been guilty of bingeing on news throughout the day. This means that I’ve opened the News apps on my phone more than thrice a day in the past. This induced panic attacks and a heightened sense of anxiety that I strictly restricted the time I spent online worrying about things I can’t control.

4. Gardening. I grew sprouts, planted a carom plant, tended to my beautiful jade plant and managed to kill the mint plant. There’s something uniquely refreshing about aiding growth when there’s so much news of death. It’s the most fulfilling thing I’ve done during the lockdown.

Proud Herb Garden Mama ❤️ also, sustainability FTW

5. Reading. I was reading Educated by Tara Westover when the lockdown was declared. It’s one of the best books I’ve read recently, and perhaps, ever. Since then, I’ve read short stories on Granta, scoured through comics, finished a book on the pandemic by Zizek, finished another book Less by Andrew Sean Greer and began reading A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Fowles. I shouldn’t be saying this, but reading-wise, I think I’m making the most out of this pandemic.

The end to this is not near. There might be a new wave of coronavirus in the winter, they say. There might also be a locust attack on farms in the summer, they say.

We don’t know what the future holds. But whatever it is, at least we now know collective action works. We really are in this together.

By Athira Unni

ATHIRA UNNI writes, among other things, such as pursuing the perfect amount of sugar to put in her tea. . Her poetry has been published by NAME, Generation Magazine, Brev Spread, Madras Courier, The Sunflower Collective, The Little Rose Magazine, Sheila-Na-Gig Under 30 and Delhi Poetry Slam.

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