It was unbelievable for anyone when Lockdown was announced for the first time in the third week of Mar 2020.
How can it be? Will they close all offices?
We are supposed to provide 24 x 7 service to our client. No way. We can’t close operations.
Public Exams are not yet over even for 12th students. How can schools be closed now?
What is this Curfew 144?
I think milk will be available?
How about Vegetables?
I don’t have rice for tomorrow.
It certainly took a few days for the fact of life to sink in. A few ventured outside ‘just to see what’s going on really’. And Police respectfully turned them back.
It is now many weeks since the lockdown was announced across the country. Many interesting things happened during this time.
All educational institutions were shut. But the amount of ‘learning’ has gone over the roof. At home many ‘otherwise busy’ husbands gained the knowledge on the amount of domestic work and why the wife got so upset when the maid did not turn up for a day. It was all new learning. After all now there is no maid and as a sincere WFH husband, many are sharing those chores as well.
Some learnt ‘what it really means’ to go out and shop vegetables, particularly when shops were not having any. Some even learnt names of a few vegetables and cereals for the first time and teaching the kids at home as well.
On the skills front there had been a plenty of learning as well. Be it mopping the floor, preparing noodles, making kids eat and getting the kids ready for the online classes, cleaning kitchen vessels, how to set the washing machine for different clothes and drying the clothes on the terrace..and the list goes on.
Some learnt cooking for the first time and discovered how nicely they could cook hot water or boil milk or making rotis or getting a dosai that is not rectangle or square in shape.
Parents learnt how boring it could be for the not-so-tech-savvy teachers to teach online. Some parents lamented ‘why my child is learning things that are not going to be of any use, for ever. Poor child!.
For WFH people, office started to look like heaven and the place to be. All the time in their life they were always yearning to spend more time at home. They used to feel so jealous on the Japanese Microsoft people when WhatsApp News circulated that their working days were made to 4 days a week. Now the same guys say “Hell with that idea”. When I go back to work from office, No more Monday morning blues, I swear. How difficult it was to motivate employees to come to office on a Monday morning with a lot of energy and enthusiasm. This is no more needed. This learning is truly transformational.
The very idea of Work-Life balance has tilted upside down. Employed people want to have “work, work and work” and all only from office.
There has been a plenty of learning happening online as well. To my knowledge, there has been so many webinar announcements that you will be left in total confusion as to which one you would choose. And 99.9999% of these webinars are offered FREE of cost. Zoom’s valuation and Udemy-like platform bookings will stand proof to this. People learn things that they never dreamt of. They are 100% sure that these courses are of no use to them any day. Still learn!
Some lucky ones learnt ‘plumbing’ without proper tool and saved a few hundred bucks. A friend of mine had one of the ceiling fans running slow. He called up an electrician who lived on the adjacent street. The electrician’s wife did not allow him ‘for safety reasons’. My friend decided that he would do it himself (he had done his Electrical Engineering 25 years back!) with the on-call support from the electrician. He brought the ceiling fan down, opened the cover only to find that the condenser needed replacement. He could not get a new condenser from anywhere and the electrician also had left his tool-kit and spares bag with his assistant. Now the hall is without a fan. ‘I should have been happy with slow speed’ was his comment.
Another neighbour, on our way to get milk, told about a similar problem he faced. “One thing I am relieved now. Our guest bedroom a/c is not cooling. I don’t have anyone to sleep there but still my wife would have never let me off even a for a few hours if I had not brought the A/c mechanic to get it serviced. Surprisingly, my wife has not opened her mouth. In fact she said what I used to say. ‘Anyway there is no one that is going to use it. So let it be’. Thank God sorry Lockdown”.
A great amount of learning has happened on this front as well. Not including testing positive or having some symptoms near to what WhatsApp University has circulated.
Some families learnt and became exemplary examples of our tradition “Adithi Devo Bhava”. I know a family that had a casual visitor, an elderly woman, who entered their house on 23rd March. It was supposed to be a two-day visit and from there she was to fly back to her home in Mumbai. This lady got stuck at this house and she was ‘advised’ not to venture anywhere outside. This family is hosting her for the past so many weeks and they do not know when they would ‘safely’ send her back home.
The hosts in this case have never had guests staying for more than two days. The kids in the house started asking the aunty ‘When will you go to your house? You don’t have a house of your own?’
On the other side, a couple known to me visited a not-so-close relative just for an overnight stay. And the hosts ‘enjoyed’ their company so much that they were asked to extend the stay for one more day. The couple is at odds to continue their stay. But they are prohibited from leaving. This couple have turned adventurous and teaching the hosts what all they had learnt in their lifetime. From ‘how not to cook and still have enough food’ to ‘Five minute-Biriyani making’. In this process they feel that they are also contributing for the unwelcome overstay!
You must have gone through a lot of learning. Haven’t you?
Please do share your experiences of learning during this #Lockdown.