Thursday, May 7, 2020

Living in the time of a pandemic

It's 10 a.m. on a Monday. The once elusive Dutch Sun seems to have found its way through my windows on to my bed. Not only are the sheets dappled in parts with the bright and cheery Sun but a part of my face is enveloped in it too. My head hurts and I definitely don't want to open my eyes. The birds seem to go about their business as usual I can tell. Either they know that the human race across the world has shut shop and returned home and they rejoice or they are oblivious and they rejoice. Either way, I am not really ready to start looking at the silver lining of this lockdown just yet. Is this what a Covid 19 ridden world is going to feel like, every damn day? I try to think of what I was going to eat for breakfast, that always manages to distract me.

An hour later my partner manages to lure me out of bed with some really fine coffee. While the coffee starts to kick in I realise that there will be no runs to my favourite roastery for my daily dose of flat white(s) anymore. This new world is strange. Any freelancer worth their weight will tell you that a daily coffee and cinnamon bun run is an 'essential service'.

After an hour of wallowing in this extremely selfishly constructed pond of misery, I begin scrolling the news obsessively to follow all updates on the virus that seems to have subverted all economies alike; Covid 19. My mind immediately darts back to the headache that still exists and seems to be wearing me down. "The most common symptoms of the Corona virus..", and the article goes on to state that headaches were noted to be common amongst almost all patients. Figures. I must have it. Scroll scroll scroll. At this point I'm in so deep that the heart ache and fatigue are real. People are dying. Yes, a lot more than usual. And this virus is choosing to effectively not discriminate amongst who it knocks dead. By then my emotionally fragile state has turned over into anger. I was supposed to be in India safely ensconced between my parents at this point but of course I chose to cancel my tickets even before The Netherlands and India closed their borders because there was absolutely no way I was risking taking back an infection so lethal to my parents and grandmother. Many a moments were spent cursing people still choosing to congregate in large groups, despite...well everything! Social distancing, who?

I had never meditated before in my life but the beginning of a new world where this fear, abject distance from all your loved ones and uncertainty were going to be the norm seemed to call for it. I try to be mindful but my mind drifts back to that nagging headache. I have now gone back to the article with the symptoms and I'm trying hard to remember all of them while simultaneously trying to figure out if I have them. As the woman's voice in the guided meditation draws me back to calm my nerves I get transported to a babbling brook and imagine myself in the middle of a forest doing this. Good job on the sounds, Calm. As I wind up, I begin to remind myself this will probably require a lot more work and patience and that is okay.
I don't forget to eat. Sure we are in a state of lockdown but maybe I could take that time to try out a few things in the kitchen that I have been meaning to? I get lazy and and forego the cooking for binge watching something on TV. It helps that my partner loves to cook for us and feed me incessantly. Did I forget to mention that by this point I have already washed my hands enough number of times to have a soaked towel in the bathroom and cleaned most used surfaces with a combination of germicidal wipes and an all purpose cleaner?
I take a moment to call up all my friends and family. I hate that all our conversations now begin and end with the current state of affairs. I love that my fears get assuaged every time I hear that everyone is doing fine and staying healthy. It's a scary be alive? I watch some 'Sex and The City' as a I sit on my balcony while watching cherry blossom trees from behind our house, creep up into our yard. I'm still thinking of my headache, I am aware. But by this point I have also mentally whacked myself to get a grip on my emotions. The point is, human life has never felt more fickle than now, businesses haven't taken tumbles as huge as this since forever, healthcare hasn't seen a crisis like this in many many years but in this one war, almost everyone will have a huge role to play. At this point when the cases testing positive are beginning to spike at an alarming rate here in the Netherlands and almost everywhere else, staying home does not feel optional.

As I sit down mulling over how my day just whizzed past and trying to list down what exactly did I 'get done', I have to remind myself to not be so hard on myself. My mind numbing hours on social media did remind me of one good thing; this was going to be a marathon, don't treat it like a sprint. I am fiddling with my hands as I remind myself to breathe in all the optimism I can muster and breathe out all the best vibes I can find to the world which is currently healing. 

Click. As I switch off my bedside lamp, my head is still swimming with a million thoughts. The good ones seem to finally be darting across and eating the bad ones, much like a game of Pacman. I could live with that. I put on some Night time calming sounds and crawl under my blanket filled with a small part of dread but a large part of emotional strength (of which I have aplenty). Day one of living through a pandemic in a lockdown- survived.

The one where she steals the boy's clothes
In the last 54 days of lockdown alongside following every rule that the Government has outlined in the Netherlands, I have managed to pack in a lot of content that makes me extremely proud of little 'ol me. (You feel the same hopefully?) Everything post the first day feels like a (at the risk of sounding cliche), a mixed bag of emotions but I think I tided over with more happy and exciting days than low, thankfully. (We even celebrated a birthday and a love anniversary in quarantine and threw ourselves parties for two, Studio 54 would be proud of)
As the lockdown restrictions begin to be lifted, little by little and we gear up to be a part of a (definitely mindful?) new world, here is a fun, little recap of my work from quarantine. I've tried to name each piece like an episode from a trashy (you say trashy, I say fun!) TV show to ensure them laughs. Nothing like ending on a positive note, after all.

The one where she tried to make 'Fetch' happen

The one where she was Malibu barbie

The one where more was more and less was a bore
When she tried to do a pop cover of 'Roman Holiday'
The one where she flips open the next chapter



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