Covid survey results – Part 2

Welcome to part 2 of the survey analysis!

Yesterday’s post covered the overall EQ aspects of the survey. Today, let’s discuss some of the other issues that the lockdown forced us to think about and do.

Chores! On good days, these were bothersome. I have always believed that we can do anything, so long as we don’t HAVE to do it! So I love to cook, but if I have to cook every meal, every day, with no option of takeout or dineout, then it’s something that would bother me! Same for cleaning – I am obsessed about a clean home (or used to be!). But if that means doing all of the cleaning everyday then I’ll soon settle for a few specks over a spotless home. So in the lockdown, when we were already coping with the myriad changes to our daily habits, throwing in chores to the conundrum just took the annoyance quotient a tad higher!

Like me, most of you agreed that not having our ‘bais’ and consequently having to manage chores made getting through the lockdown harder. Of course, superheroes are everywhere and amidst us were folks who did not have help even before the pandemic and were anyway doing everything themselves. I was honestly quite surprised by how many of you did not in fact have house help before the pandemic. And then I had to remind myself that my respondents were spread out across various parts of the world and it isn’t as commonplace elsewhere as it is in India!

So here’s a comparative of the various chores at home that you had help for before the pandemic/lockdown and in their absence, how many of the chores you had to do by yourself instead.

Chores househelp

Sweeping/mopping, washing vessels (Bartan, jhadu, pocha or BJP for short – as has been trending on social media) and dusting were jobs for which the maximum of you had help earlier but ended up doing by yourselves or had a family member / flatmate do as a consequence of the lockdown.

Laundry seems to have picked favour with a lot of people during the lockdown – probably since it involves lesser physical effort and is less disgusting compared to BJP or cleaning the washrooms – given that the washing machine does most of the work! Prepping for cooking also followed the “kuch karna hi hai toh let me do this” trend!! These are the tasks that require a moderate amount of skill and you can’t really go wrong! I am not undermining them in any way – just observing that they seem the lesser irksome chores of the lot!

Which brings us to our next segment – where I had asked you rank the chores from 1 to 10 where 1 represents chores you hate the most and 10 represents those that you don’t dislike as much.

Chores ranking

Dusting, washing vessels and cleaning the washrooms take the coveted spots in this ranking as the most hated chores – having been ranked between 1-3 by most people! Sweeping/mopping and laundry hovered somewhere in the middle for the most part – probably eased by the existence of vacuum cleaners, mops (as opposed to the fabric pocha done by going down on all fours) and washing machines! Prepping for cooking was clearly seen as more irksome than cooking itself. This echoes my views as well – if all the veggies are chopped and the dough is kneaded, the I would be more than happy to make roti-subji but if I have to do all of it myself (everyday, mind you!), I’ll probably end up making maggi or khichdi.

Doing these as a one-off is way more gratifying than having to do them everyday. As one of the WhatsApp forwards rightly said – on day 1 of doing jhadu pocha, I took so much extra effort trying to reach all the difficult corners in my home. Day 10 of jhadu pocha and I now understand my bai better! So how frequently did we end up doing all those things that we don’t like?

Chores frequency

Unfortunately, one metric stands out like no other – Washing vessels, that was the most hated chore by common consensus, was also the chore that needed to be done everyday. My survey did not have the option of “multiple times in a day” else I am sure you would have picked that! I think when we had help for washing vessels earlier, we would leave them in the sink and they would only get washed once or twice a day. But when you have to do them yourself, you don’t want to come back to stare at a huge pile of dishes waiting to be done so you tend to do them more frequently – which on some days translates to all the time because in lockdown, when you can’t go out, you also consequently end up snacking more!

Understandably, all of the chores that ranked high on frequency were related to food or ‘pet’ pooja! – Washing vessels, prepping for cooking and cooking itself. Cleaning chores typically clustered around 3-4 times a week on an average – considering sweeping/mopping, dusting and cleaning the washrooms.

I am not stressing on the remaining three chores of cleaning the vehicles, walking the pet and mowing the lawn since most of us did not have to do these even once throughout the lockdown. (Side note: If you have a lawn in India, and more specifically in Mumbai, then I’d be surprised that you don’t have a butler, a cook and/or gardener at your beck and call – the only people who can afford a lawn in Mumbai are the ones that don’t have to tend to it themselves)

Those were the harrowing parts of the lockdown. Time now to talk about what we all missed the most from a fun and recreation perspective and what helped us cope better.

Let’s start by looking at all of the outdoor options that we missed the most. I asked you to rank these places in the order of what you missed the most (rank 1) to what you missed the least or nor at all (rank 11)

Recreation outside
The reason some of these categories don’t add up to 100% was because many of you didn’t rank them at all, which I interpreted as not having missed them at all!

By a massive margin, it was restaurants and cafes that were missed the most (and if you combine the results of pubs and breweries with this segment, the margin is even larger)! Malls, gyms, and movie theatres – all places that many of us frequented before the lockdown were also ranked high. Religious centers and places of worship also had about 50% people putting it in the upper half of places that they missed – Honestly, I wasn’t expecting this and it’s a welcome revelation – It also probably meant that a lot of us were relying on divine intervention to get us through this trying time.

Some of you ranked airports pretty high – I realised this was largely people who were separated (or staying away) from their family during the lockdown and expectedly wishing they could have travelled home to be with their loved ones in this time.

I thought salons/spas would have ranked higher (given how many men that I know either went bald or ponytail during the lockdown), but it seems good food makes more of us happier than good looks!

To cope with the inability to venture out, here are some of the indoor activities that kept us engaged.

Recreation inside

On-demand television was the greatest saviour in the lockdown. The situation was further helped by lot of movies and shows opting for an OTT release which meant movie theatres didn’t matter so much anymore.

Collectively, you were all cooking, baking and reading more but exercising much less (including meditation and yoga). It was good to see that despite the stresses of the lockdown, most of you were eating and sleeping pretty much the same. (I was definitely doing more of both at the start of the lockdown but have now gotten more disciplined.)

skills

One of the sections of the survey that I was looking forward to the most was knowing if any of you acquired any new skills or expanded on any existing skills in all the extra time saved from daily commute and other outdoor activities. It was soooo good to see a long list of these when I sat down with the responses! 24 of you said you learnt a new skill and 25 of you honed an existing one! Pat yourselves on the back from me!

Below is a compilation of all the skills learnt and honed in this period by all of you! Thank you so much for taking the trouble of responding in detail to this open-ended question! To capture all the individual responses, I have intentionally not edited the responses and have let repetitions stay on the list.

skills list

So as you can see, some really interesting, unique and creative ideas there. I know I am going to reach out to many of you for some knowledge transfer – especially on ayurveda, mindfulness and poker! It gives me so much happiness that I have as part of my circle, people with so many diverse talents and interests!

Learning a musical instrument was hot – we have guitar, piano, harmonium, ukulele there on the list. Similarly, art was in the spotlight for many of you – mandala artworks, canvas painting, art and craft work also featured prominently on the list. The third category that had a common thread running among many of you was cooking, baking, bread-making (better at making roti had cracked me up by the way!). Lastly, some of us used this time well to upskill professionally through LinkedIn learnings and educational courses, improving excel skills and even personal wealth management through value investing and money management.

It’s so heartening to see that we have all fallen back on things that make us happy and keep our spirits high during this period. Undoubtedly, this is what has helped us get through this phase, apart from of course taking one day at a time and relying on technology to keep us connected with other human beings in our personal and professional life.

Wrapping up the survey was a question on how you see yourself moving about once the lockdown ends. Given that the strict lockdown has ended in most parts of India, some of you may already be living this reality.

post covid pie

Below were the four options to your views on the post-Covid world:

  1. I can’t wait to get out and about; What’s with these masks? They’re so uncomfortable?!
  2. I am looking forward to going out once the lockdown ends but I am happy to wait for it to happen in phases and when it does, I will exercise all caution by using the appropriate protective gear – I am kind of getting used to this life!
  3. I am happy staying indoors and venturing out only for essentials until a vaccine is developed and there is no threat of falling sick
  4. I will be wearing masks and gloves whenever I step out of home for the rest of my life!

I want to spare couple of minutes to talk about how I came up with these options. The options were largely drawn from the views of people I was regularly interacting with. While the first and last options were at extreme ends of the spectrum – first one being callous and the last one being paranoid – the middle two were workarounds……just accepting the situation and moving on.

In the past when epidemics such as SARS (2003) and swine flu (2009) had occurred, wearing masks and gloves had become a way of life for many and in a lot of the affected countries, these habits continue till date, long after the epidemic died out.

Unsurprisingly, not even one of the respondents picked option 4! This is actually quite gladdening because it implies that we believe that this situation can be tided over and that “this too shall pass”. While the peril lasts, many of us are happy to follow all the safety measures when we step out. A lot of us are further okay to even stay indoors and venture out only for essentials till a vaccine is devised.

Below is a further split of the response analysis –

post covid

The sentiment is more or less evenly distributed between options 2 and 3 with more men favouring option 2 than women. The trends were similar across age groups, employment categories and locations. This shows that by and large, we are determined to stay safe during the pandemic and do all it takes to safeguard ourselves and our loved ones.

As for me – I am definitely more than happy being indoors till the risk of infection is so low that I can play on probabilities!

Do let me know if you want any more in-depth insights from my Covid survey (or indeed, if you want to call and chat with me in detail about the findings!). I’d be more than thrilled to humour you!

Covid survey results – Part 1

Am finally here with the results of the Covid survey that concluded on 25th June 2020. I was a bit irregular with my blogging through July and I just wanted to clarify that I didn’t actually take a month and a half to analyse the responses!!

It was really interesting to go through the responses and get a sense of what people were going through in the lockdown. While in most places, the lockdown is significantly relaxed as compared to the period when the survey was responded to, I believe the survey outcomes, directional change in mindsets and the medium-term impact of the lockdown by and large still hold true.

To begin with, I’d like to thank all these wonderful people who took the time to complete the survey – some of you who even wrote back to me about some initial glitches or your views on the questionnaire. Thanks (much belated) for that feedback!

Thank you!
Thanks are in equal measure to all of you! Size of the names in the word-cloud are randomized – just saying!

I received 43 completed responses in total. These constituted a decent mix of respondents. I was happy to have representation across all age, gender and employment categories as well as from different parts of the world.

Basic details

Location

In the first part of the survey results post today, I’ll be focusing on the impact that Covid-19 and the consequent lockdown has had on our lives and our emotional well-being (EW or EQ – emotional quotient – used interchangeably throughout this article).

What is emotional well-being? It is how we feel and relate to ourselves. It is not restricted to being cheerful and happy but also ties in with our levels of self-esteem and how we engage with our surroundings, environment and the people around us. Recent research has shown a direct and definitive connection between physical health and emotional or mental well-being.

This is probably the first time in our lives that all of us have been confined within our homes (or heavily restricted from moving out, depending on where in the world you are) for such a long period of time. All of us are wired differently and while the lockdown may have given some of us the opportunity to pursue hobbies and interests that were crushed under the excuse of “I don’t have time” since ages, for others it meant such a realignment of priorities and chores that they ended up with no time for themselves.

Overall, the lockdown seems to have resulted in a deterioration of emotional health. Nearly 54% of respondents acceded to this. While ~14% said that their emotional well-being remained unaffected through the lockdown, the remaining claimed that it had actually improved.

EH

I had asked you to grade your EQ before the lockdown started and again at the time of taking the survey (which was about 3months into the lockdown). Surprisingly, the degree by which the EQ had moved was more or less the same for increase as well as decrease responses – the average decrease in EQ was ~60% whereas the average increase was ~57%.

I also analysed these results by gender, age-group, occupation and location. Below are the results.

EW category

More women felt that their EW had increased or remained the same as compared to men. It seems more women felt there were not doing significantly more than they were already doing and were happy to have help around home!

Maximum increase in EQ was observed in the age group 25-44 – it is likely that the lockdown gave a much-needed breather to the people in this age group to do something other than run the rat race!

In terms of employment – those in technology related occupations saw the maximum increase in EQ possibly because they were already comfortable with the remote working situation. Those in finance and management (combined) decidedly felt the brunt of the lockdown and experienced a decline in their EQ as also those who aren’t working.

Coming to the specific impacts that the lockdown had on personal professional and student life, below are the results.

Personal life

A clear winner that has emerged out of the lockdown has been the time that many of us have got with our immediate family. Conscious that some of us have been stuck away from our loved ones as well but for those who are with their family, this time has been a blessing in disguise.

Speaking for myself, I can say that I never would have got this golden opportunity to watch my little boy grow and witness all of his milestones if not for the movement restrictions. Being physically at home, even if it means being holed up in my home-office (a 2ft x 2ft spot in my house!), has meant that I have had endless flexibility in how I manage my workday and still be present for his mealtimes, diaper changes, bath time and play times! My husband and I also probably never spent so much time together before the lockdown as we have done in the past few months! I have been lucky to have my parents with me during this period and again, this is maximum time I have spent with them post marriage!

On the other hand, my in-laws and our extended family have missed some of the fun moments of watching our baby grow because of the lockdown. Some of you have been away from your families for a major part or the entire duration of the lockdown – I can imagine how painful this must feel.

Thanks to the advancements in technology, at least we have video calls that enable us to see each other and participate in special moments. Using this time to connect with family and friends, checking on each other’s well being has been another highlight of this period.

Can’t ignore some of the healthy habits that the lockdown has forced upon us – this is the longest we have gone without eating out. The frequent washing of hands, wearing the mask, avoiding stepping out unless necessary has meant that there is less pollution and lesser spread of any disease, not just Covid. Further, at least in India, the access to essential supplies was maintained through and through which meant that most people were indifferent to this aspect.

I imagined that the lockdown would have given us a lot more personal time to pursue our hobbies and skills but surprisingly, the responses on this category were quite spread out. Some of our respondents have gone all out with pursuing new interests and expanding existing ones which is really inspiring. We have among us a talented singer/dancer who also plays the harmonium and learnt to play the ukulele during this period. Phew! Here I am, happy blogging once a fortnight!

Some of the areas that clearly took a beating were physical fitness, household chores, in-person time with friends/family/loved ones and the inability to travel. Additionally, one of the respondents highlighted that she had a baby during the lockdown (which was an experience in itself, I’m sure!) and had quite a tough time finding stuff / shopping for her newborn.

Professional life

Given the massive lifestyle change of forced work-from-home that the lockdown imposed on us, the entire professional setup took a beating. In my survey, I was only looking at the issue from an individual point of view and not from the business’ point of view. There were so many parameters that were crucial to analyse this aspect.

The change in professional setup has resulted in a very thin line between work and non-work hours. This has adversely affected working hours since, with everyone working flexibly as per their own convenience, the time when everyone is at work “together” is not a consistent window. This creates a very superfluous work day where calls get scheduled anywhere between 8am to 11pm, because “waise bhi ghar pe hi ho”! I have been fortunate to evade / avoid such circumstances but I know several people who have not. Having said that, work-life balance as well as productivity have seemingly either improved or stayed the same for the majority of us.

Efficient online meeting solutions such as MS-Teams, Zoom, Webex have really made life simpler for all of us. It makes the virtual meeting as inclusive and seamless as feasible in the current circumstances. Not even one respondent responded negatively to these. Also, the inability to work from office only impacted a few people – possibly because of laptop or technology issues, or cases where in-person interaction is a major part of one’s work. As one of them separately told me, I don’t think I ever want to wear full pants to work again!

Here, I would like to make a mention of certain jobs that simply cannot happen remotely to the same degree as they would otherwise – actors and artists, restauranteurs, community workers and certain media personnel. Their work has definitely been significantly affected. But there are silver linings everywhere – here too, innovation has been at the forefront and some of you talented people have done so well to keep working through the lockdown despite these challenges. Remote shoots, video recordings, catering, organising community service campaigns – it’s been very interesting to see all these emerge. A shout out to healthcare professionals here who have marched through this storm with their heads held high and their spirits undeterred as they stare the virus in its eyes day after day.

On a different note, it was heartening to see that despite some adverse impact on overall pay scales and some delays in annual appraisals, the sentiment around job security and business continuity remained more or less neutral.

As expected, the interaction with team members senior and junior to oneself were adversely affected only mildly but the impact of interaction between the peer group was far more pronounced. Clearly, it’s the informal communication that we are missing more than the formal – probably because formal / hierarchical or work-related interaction happens in the normal course anyway! A very interesting piece of feedback here from one of you was that this was actually good time away from negative people at work with the privilege to choose the medium to speak with people.

Student life

Coming to the student community – I only had 2 conventional student respondents but one of the respondents was working and studying at the same time and therefore responded to both sections – so it seemed reasonable to include her responses too in this analysis.

Other than networking with friends and colleagues, collaborating on assignments and some time-zone issues, student life didn’t appear to be too badly impacted by the lockdown. Classes were either conducted online or colleges shut altogether. Neither seemed to bother students too much. Based on feedback, more than the academic aspect, it was the lack of university events, sports and socials that were missed. The advantage of having access to their preferred college/education from the comfort of their home (and thereby avoiding crappy mess food or the ordeal of cooking) was a perk, no doubt.

Lastly, I had asked you to pick the top 5 issues arising out of Covid that you found the most disturbing during this period. The verdict is out:

Disturbing issues

100% of respondents selected either “the lockdown itself” or “the pandemic itself” as one of their top problematic issues. Understandably, between the two, the pandemic was more disturbing than the lockdown. One of our respondents hit the nail on the head saying that the lack of necessary medical infrastructure and support is alarming.

Other than that, it was by far, the plight of health workers and the plight of migrant workers that were the most disturbing for most of us. Closely on the heels of that are the issues of (a) deliberate negligence by some people choosing to break rules and move around without proper protective gear and (b) the class divide. These emerged as the top issues collectively, contributing to our overall state of mind during this period.

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Hitting the pause button for now. Stay tuned for the remaining segments of the survey results – coming soon right here!

Somewhere a little birdie cooed

When the world came to a standstill;
And a virus sent all-round chills; (pun intended)
When the entire healthcare system was threatened;
And social distancing, the only weapon;
Somewhere a little birdie cooed;
Is this not a good time to reboot?

From hanging out to hanging in;
Quiet time with self and kin;
Realising to your great chagrin;
So much more that 24 hours can fit in;
Somewhere a little birdie cooed;
Do you realise now, all that you were earlier missing?

Capitalism is out, minimalism is in;
Instead of travelling out, travel within;
Meditating more, thinking and dreaming;
Thanking your stars, counting your blessings;
Somewhere a little birdie cooed;
Isn’t this a story you’d enjoy retelling?

—————-

Sorry for the extended silence! Life happened!

So this poem summarises my thoughts on this hugely eventful period of our life – in spite of all the negativity, fear and paranoia surrounding the lockdown, this period has given me a lot of moments that I will cherish for life and definitely enjoy narrating about to my son! While this may not have been the best way for us to discover and spend time with ourselves, I am glad for the opportunity it presented us to have a rethink about our priorities and the way we are leading our life. So, I ain’t complaining!!

Survey results coming up in the next few posts. So stay tuned!!

Meditation

The retribution perspective…

Many theories and myths have been attributed to the Covid-19 spread.

China ‘planted’ the virus.

Humans got it from bat soup.

The virus is a biological weapon.

The virus doesn’t thrive in hot climates so India may be spared its wrath. (Haha!)

The virus was ‘created’ by Bill Gates.

The virus is a ‘tactic’ for pharma companies to make money off the vaccine.

Covid and the BLM movement in the US are interlinked. (the latest one – read about it here)

…..and many many more (check out these links – this and this).

These are all a consequence of social media and the WhatsApp university going into overdrive.

There can be many reasons and theories for why the virus has attacked now, how it came into being, how does it affect some more than others, so on and so forth. We won’t have conclusive answers to these – possibly ever.

But there’s one perspective that I have been reading and discussing a lot lately – what I like to call the ‘Retribution perspective’. This is payback time and Mother Nature’s way of getting back at us for abusing her endlessly over the years. This is our own collective karma that’s come back to haunt us.

Clean up yoru mess

There is a theory that everything in the universe is somehow connected – The butterfly effect.

That’s how one person contracting a virus in a small city in one part of the world can bring the entire world to its knees in a matter of weeks.

That’s how our abuse of nature and the animal kingdom for food and industry can result in the creation of a disease so widespread and lethal.

That’s how the abuse of wealth and power by those who have it can cause the suffering of those who don’t.

Over the 20th century, the global population more than quadrupled. In nature, no individual large species’ population has ever quadrupled in a century. But the human race has managed this by manipulating agriculture through use of artifical nitrogen fertilisers and ingenious chemistry knowledge and skills.

There are widely differing reports on extinction of species but as per experts, 0.01%-0.1% of all species become extinct each year. So if there are 2 million different species, potentially 200-2000 species become extinct each year (as per WWF – World Wide Fund for Nature – formerly World Wildlife Fund). More recently, scientists at the U.N. Convention on Biological Diversity concluded that upto 150 species become extinct every day – i.e. about 10% of all species per decade. As per the National Geographic, species extinctions are happening about 1000 times faster due to humans.

Our burning of fossil fuels and complete disregard of the combined issues of climate change and global warming is causing Earth to become an increasingly unsafe place for the human race year after year, day after day.

Our obsession with technological advancement cannot come at a cost to the planet. This is something we have not hitherto acknowledged entirely. With a planet that is bursting at its seams, where will all this economic and industrial growth eventually lead us? It can only be off the planet! Where to – no one can answer that.

This is evolution coming full circle causing us to question the tenets of our very existence.

During this pandemic, I have not had access to so many things that I believed were necessary for a happy life. And I have cherished so much more of what I otherwise would have never realised the true worth of. I have appreciated minimalist living more than ever and I really don’t think I want to ever go back to the selfish, environmentally unsustainable life that I was leading earlier.

In fact, I am reminded of the brilliant Disney movie Moana – the movie is about a young girl’s belief in her higher purpose and her courage to go forth and fulfill it. The movie has a lot of sub-plots but the main story is about a goddess named Te-Fiti who had a precious magical stone as her heart bestowed on her by the Ocean. When her heart (the stone) was stolen by the demigod Maui she is replaced by a volcanic demon god Te-Ka who spews fire all around. Moana’s destiny is to return Te-Fiti’s heart to her but in her quest, she discovers Te-Fiti has never been seen since heart was stolen and legend had it that she was lost. In the end, she realises that Te-Ka is nothing but Te-Fiti, corrupted without her heart and when she restores the heart, the goddess comes to life again in her full glory. The movie is beautiful tale about how nature nurtures and heals but when abused, can also wreak havoc.

When I did a 30-days blogathon back in Dec2019-Jan2020, I did a post on Thanking Mother Nature. Do read it if you have time. In the post, I had also linked up an ad campaign by Tata Steel called #DoorwaytoGreen which is one of my favourite ad campaigns ever. If you haven’t seen it, I urge you to – Now may be the best time to see it and absorb the hard truth that it conveys. I have seen this videoso many times and it never, never fails to give me goosebumps.

If there is anything we can learn from the pandemic it’s this – what goes around comes around. I have a son and I definitely want to leave behind for him a planet that’s nurturing and kind – not one where we need to think before putting out our hand for a shake.

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On a separate note – the Covid surey is now closed for responses. Huge thanks to all of you who took out the time to respond to it. I understand that it was quite a long questionnaire and I really appreciate your earnest and honest participation!

I am currently analysing the results and in my future posts, I’ll start sharing them with you – bit by bit! Stay with me on my pet project – #Covidsurvey!

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P.S. In researching some material for today’s post, I came across these three brilliant articles that I thought you may be interested in reading!

https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/blog/2019/05/nature-decline-unprecedented-report/

https://www.bostonglobe.com/2020/04/22/magazine/is-coronavirus-pandemic-mother-natures-revenge/

https://www.magzter.com/article/Health/Life-Positive/COVID-19-Mother-Natures-Messenger

A journey from oblivious to conscious – an honest account and a factual timeline

#longpostalert

Oh! Wasn’t I happy and full of cheer
not knowing what I now know;
I wish I could stay that way,
and smiling, wake up to each new day;
Without a worry, without a care,
Only happiness and good news to share!

Not illness and death,
Not the fear and conspiracy theories;
How I wish, such news never touched me,
For I’m happy to be recklessly glee,
Alas! The crisis we are in the midst of,
will not afford that oblivion, ever now to me!

—————

As per the WHO timeline, the novel coronavirus was first identified in Wuhan, China in December-2019. On 11th March 2020, the WHO declared it a global pandemic – at that time, 92 territories (as per this Wikipedia link) had reported at least one case. On the world map, here’s how it looked then.

Covid - countries - 11Mar2020

India went in to lockdown around 24th March 2020 (Around the same time as many other countries – US, Singapore, Australia, UAE, UK and many more). While the degree of lockdown differed from country to country, most countries did jumpstart their response mechanism to the pandemic around this time.

Despite all international and domestic travel coming to a standstill and heavily restricted movement within the country itself, the map of Covid cases today (as per the same Wiki-link shared earlier) is somewhat like this – very few areas of the world have been spared the wrath of this deadly virus.

Covid - 22Jun2020

So what was I doing when all this was going on in the world?
Honestly, ever since I became a mom to my naughty little 11-month-old last year, he instantly became my world, so much so that for the longest time, (I’m ashamed to say) I was quite unaware of what was going on in the real world! So it was already mid January by the time I had some vague idea that there was a virus that was causing havoc in China and some other parts of the world. But I didn’t consume my mind with this, convinced as I was, that India was unaffected and it was just one of those things that the media was blowing up as they are usually wont to do.

Back in January/February, the only things we used to discuss at home were what to give my son for his next meal, what should we have for our next meal, thinking about travelling somewhere before I resumed work after my maternity break and what can we do over the weekend to break the monotony. Little did I know that the monotony that I was feeling was going to become everyone’s “new normal” for the near term. Wake up – eat – cook- clean – sleep – repeat! At least I had my son to throw in some entertainment for the day!

In January, we finally did a weekend road trip to Lonavala – every Mumbaikar’s local holiday destination. I was actually doing something different after nearly 6 months and I was quite kicked! This was also special for us because it was our first trip with the bub – and a pre-cursor to the larger holiday that I was inwardly planning for the later part of the year – which the husband didn’t know then (and it doesn’t matter now)!

Then around end of February-2020, we did a family trip to Kerala – 5 of us plus the little one. This trip was in the works for quite some time because we had wanted to visit our ancestral village, native temples and also perform the traditional “Annaprashanam” (rice ceremony) of our son in Guruvayur – a temple that holds a special place in my heart.

By this time, in all honestly, the disease was widespread enough to be in the news every day. There were also stock market jolts every other day that were pointing at “normal” being wrecked world over. And yet, I had not felt anything was amiss. Because, it still felt that whatever was happening was far from home and we were sufficiently insulated from all of it. Blame it on the “illusion of invulnerability” – the uncanny belief that misfortune can befall anyone but me! Pertinent to note that the first case in India was recorded on 30 January 2020 – in Kerala.

Yes, that’s how oblivious I was!

I’m certain I wasn’t the only one who was completely in the dark with respect to this. Most of us were probably together in this bliss bubble of ignorance. It’s strange, isn’t it? How we don’t see things as important or affecting us till they swell and balloon and stare us in the face? We returned to Mumbai on 01st March 2020 and the first Covid case was reported in Mumbai on 11 March 2020 (first in Maharashtra, being on 09th March 2020 in Pune). That was finally when it hit – because the virus had hit “home”. Note that this was also the day WHO declared the disease a pandemic.

All of sudden, it was a huge issue that could affect any of us.

I resumed work on 16th March and on the same day, it was decided that next day onwards, the team would work from home. That was also the time many other organisations were starting to think about similar arrangements. But not all of them. Some still showed remarkable optimism and continued business as usual – well not as usual really, because by then, nothing was ‘as usual’.

Over the first 3 days, I admit I went into overdrive – stocking up 3 weeks’ supply of groceries in the anticipation of shortages.

And then on 19th March, the celebrated PM address happened – where he asked his beloved countrymen to stay home as much as they could and step out only if absolutely necessary. The stocking up didn’t seem so unnecessary anymore.

In his address, the PM also announced the now famous litmus-test-to-lockdown >> a Janta curfew. And to add just that extra bit of oomph, he made the Janta curfew a memorable event – by turning it into a resounding show of solidarity. He appealed to the nation to step out onto their balconies at 5pm and make some noise for the tireless warriors who were fighting the disease from the frontlines – doctors, nurses, medical staff, government staff, sanitation workers, police personnel, media and others who were contributing to the safety and health of others whilst putting themselves at risk. And the nation did not let him down! Internet was replete with videos of people coming together for this – with their plates, conches, bells and drums. I was one among the millions who clapped and cheered and joined in the 5-minute standing ovation! I must admit it seemed silly at first instance but the vibe was electric and gave me goosebumps! I hope it also gave some strength to the Corona warriors for whom it was meant.

On the very next day, the PM announced a 21-day lockdown – lot of people saw a lockdown coming but I don’t know if anyone expected it to be for three weeks. Looking back on it now, three months later, three weeks seems rather less. But we had never been in lockdown before so the three weeks restriction seemed preposterous. What was remarkable was how diligently people followed it!

Less than a week into the lockdown, the issue of migrant workers came to the fore. With factories, construction and offices being shut owing to the lockdown, these people who were building and sustaining the posh cities that we live in by doing the lion’s share of manual labour, had no place to stay, no food, no money and no way to go home. Their plight was deplorable and their situation, completely ignored when the lockdown was planned. Without giving these poor migrants any time or chance to get home and leaving them with no facilities in their city of work, the country had somehow failed them. This will, by far, remain one of the most, disturbing outcomes of the Covid situation.

This and the increasing death toll in other parts of the world that we were now following like a hawk. Italy, Spain, US, UK, Sweden – The numbers kept coming in. Closer home, cases were rising every day and the unspoken fear in every mind was – “will we become another Italy?”

Another show of solidarity came 10 days into the pandemic on 05 April 2020, when the PM had requested the country to turn off all lights and light a lamp or flash their mobile flashlights to demonstrate that we are one against the disease. This time too, the nation did not disappoint as people got creative with their lighting. This, for me, did not have the same effect as the clapping and clanging of the Janta curfew day. This was a more subdued way of coming together though some people did go a step further and make some noise anyway. Plus, by this time, we were not ignorant anymore. In fact we were so incredibly conscious of the growing number of cases and deaths and so disturbed by the plight of the migrant workers that this symbolic act of lighting lamps didn’t feel so empowering against a tiny virus that displayed unexpected one-upmanship against all of humanity put together.

By the time 15th April arrived and lockdown 1.0 came to an end, most people had become aware of the tenacity of the disease so when lockdown 2.0 was announced till 03 May 2020, there was less resistance and shock. People were starting to resign to the fact that this is likely to continue for a while. While those of us who could work from home were definitely getting used to this, there were slight but sure signs of businesses facing recession and impending job/pay cuts.

It is a known fact that in India, most people have help for household chores. With the lockdown, people were forced to do their own chores in addition to regular office/client/ business work plus childcare for those with kids at home. Personally for me, the lockdown couldn’t have come at a better time. I was getting to spend so much more time with my little one and follow his every milestone. I also have my parents around with me so between us, chores have been more or less manageable throughout this period. But nearly a month into the lockdown, a lot of couples with kids staying in a nuclear setup or older people staying by themselves were starting to feel the pressure of having to do everything by themselves. Getting used to it? Maybe! Enjoying it? Hell no!

Then there was the question of whether to pay the house helps and other domestic staff even while they weren’t able to come to work because of the lockdown. While we have followed a simple rule of “they get paid as long as we get paid” so far, there’s no denying that this has been a contentious issue for many with valid arguments on either side. To be honest, the affluent and to a large extent, even the middle class have had access to all they need pretty much throughout the lockdown and have not really seen any major changes in their lifestyle (aside of not being able to go out to malls, movies, restaurants, etc). On the other hand, the poorer sections of society – families of those who work for us have had more than their fair share of difficulties. They have had to dig deep into their savings despite some of us paying them their salaries because their other family members have not been so lucky – they may be daily wage labourers who have not earned a penny since the lockdown was announced. The ever-growing class divide has never been more apparent. News articles have quoted some of the less privileged people expressing remorse over the fact that if corona does not kill them, fear or hunger will.

Lockdown 3.0 was announced till 17th May which was further extended to Lockdown 4.0 till 31st May. However, lockdown 4.0 was not as stringent as the first 3 editions with most activities being allowed for the first time since March end in areas that were not containment zones.

Lockdown 5.0 was infact christened Unlock 1.0 since it officially allowed almost all activities in areas that are not containment zones. In containment zones, the lockdown is extended till 30 June 2020.

With every increasing lockdown, the public interest in the announcement has only reduced since many of us have become so used to this new way of life. Some of my family members have not set foot outside the house since 24th March 2020 – nearly for 3 months. I have only stepped out for the weekly/fortnightly groceries/medicines purchases. With most things being digitally accessible, the need to step out of home has significantly come down – or maybe we have only realised this now when we have been pushed to it.

The sad part is that from being oblivious to the virus a few months ago, I am now maniacally aware (paranoid, even!) – what with constantly checking the Aarogya Setu app, monitoring the increase in cases and deaths, constantly reading up on precautions to be taken and playing what-ifs in my head all the time.

It’s worrying that with the increasing spread of the disease, the fear of its spread is infact reducing. At the onset of the virus in India when the rate of increase in Covid positive cases was fairly low, people were so scared to step out. But now with the cases doubling every other day, people are in such a rush to throw caution to the wind and move out. Now may be the worst time to catch the bug – with our medical infrastructure stretched to its limits. It seems that the passage of time has made people both, indifferent to the increasing numbers and impatient to letting it flatten out in terms of its spread. The misconception that it can only happen to others (the “illusion of invulnerability” that I spoke about earlier) can only spell doom for all of us – because remember, we are all in this together!

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Let me know in the comments section whether your awareness of the virus and the pandemic has followed the same trajectory as mine.

And do fill in the Covid Survey that I had introduced in my previous post. I will be rounding off this series with my analysis of the survey responses so please help me form/validate my thoughts when you have some time by filling up the survey!! I am linking it here again so you don’t have to wander looking for it on my blog!! Click Here to take the survey – it’s four pages long (sorry and thank you in advance!) so please be sure to do it right till the end!

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P.S. None of the content on this blog to be reproduced or lifted without permission

Covid survey launch

This feels like a good time to be writing about how Covid has changed our life – we have been in lockdown for 2.5+ months and are slowly, gingerly emerging out of it bit by tiny bit.

There have been umpteen Covid-related posts and forwards on social media – WhatsApp leading from the front – circulating throughout this period and there’s really nothing left that hasn’t been said already! And yet, I already announced a Covid series on my blog so I must have something new to say! Or do I?!

I thought a lot about what to cover in this series and have a few ideas! Hope you’ll stay with me and follow through the series, chipping in wherever you have your experiences, opinions or additional tidbits and fun-facts to add!

I’ve created a survey to understand the impact that Covid has had on your (my valued readers’) lives. It would greatly help me make the posts in this series more meaningful. It’s a slightly longish one and may take about 10-15 mins to complete. So do settle down into a comfortable spot and position and think about your responses as your filling them in! I hope the survey also helps you reflect on some of the larger impacts that this situation has had on your life.

Please do complete the survey before 25th June 2020 so that I can start analysing the responses and posting the results for you!

Click HERE to take the survey.

Looking forward to your responses πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

 

 

A new world – blackout poetry (and new series announcement)

Now that my mini-series on ‘My favourite poems’ is over, I thought it’s time to do something new on my blog. Given that we have been locked-down and our lives, businesses and economies the world over have all brought to their knees by the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, I thought a topical COVID series on my blog “toh banta hai”!

So, I’m kickstarting this series today – I don’t know how many posts there will be on this series. I guess I’ll just keep writing on this till I have something meaningful to say or till I find something else happening enough to blog about! So do keep watching out for a new post update!!

Today’s post is something I’ve been wanting to try out for a long time now. Finally got down to it today – Blackout poetry.

What is blackout poetry? As per Writer’s Digest, a blackout poem is when a poet takes a marker (usually black marker) to already established text–like in a newspaper–and starts redacting words until a poem is formed. The traditional name for this form of poetry is ‘Erasure’.

For my blackout poetry today, I took an article from the newspaper dated 21 March 2020 (I’ll also link up the original article below for you to read) and redacted some of the words so that the remaining words come together to form a completely new poem!

Here’s an image of my blackout poetry:

2020-05-30_062703__01

For those of you that found it difficult to read that, below is the poem that I pieced together from words in that article.
A new world

As we helplessly wonder, what next?
And pray fervently: this too shall pass.
Going about our lives, quaking, fearful.
No matter the prompt action that may have saved several lives;

Self-isolation, to my great surprise,
Never felt better,
Bathed in a gorgeous golden light,
Were all the trees, a most heartening sight!

Fewer cars on the road,
Most of the sounds clear,
We are bothered about what happens to us,
Look at how we learn!

This has been a wake-up call,
For the entire world,
Transformation at every level,
A powerful equaliser – We are all equal!

Doctors, nursing staff and all the others working selflessly,
Heroes without any expectations or rewards.
In a world being devastated by tsunami of death and disease,
People who put others before self to fight and win this terrible war!

Now go back and try to read it in the image and maybe you’ll be able to see it!

Do let me know if you found that interesting! Also let me know how COVID and the lockdown has changed your life!

Till the next post, ta-da from me!!

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P.S. You can read the original article written by Shobhaa De below or on this link :

Blackout poetry1_original news article_Mumbai can never become a ghost city

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P.S. None of the content on this blog to be reproduced or lifted without permission

 

 

Things desired….– (My favourite poems mini series – instalment 6)

The last post in this mini-series is not strictly a poem; it’s a prose-poem. This poem, “Desiderata” (which is a Latin word that loosely translates as ‘something that is desired or wanted’) is touted in various poetry circles as a manual for life.

The poem is steeped in spirituality and stresses the importance of living a life based on high ideals, having faith and trust in a higher power. Though there are some myths around its origins, it is believed to have been written by Max Ehrmann in 1920. But the poem was not really known during his lifetime and only started becoming famous after his death. His widowed wife published a collection of his poems (including this one) after his death under the title “The Desiderata of Happiness: a collection of philosophical poems by Max Ehrmann” in 1948 after which Desiderata‘s use in devotional and spiritual discourses and recordings picked up rapidly because of its universal messaging.

This poem has deep meaning for me. I was acquainted to it pretty late in life and was introduced to it by a senior colleague at work. Ever since, it has been a go-to for me whenever I need some lifting up. This poem also helps me introspect on my actions and my thoughts. Different lines have given me solace at different points of time in life.

Here’s the poem for you to read!

Desiderata_max ehrmann

I really can’t choose a favourite line in this poem because as I mentioned earlier, I have related to different parts of it at different times in life!

Although this poem is written in rather colloquial terms, for today’s post, I want to break it up further to spell out my interpretation of these deeply inspiring lines that have resonated with me in so many ways. At the cost of making this a rather long-ish post, I hope you will find some value in my elaborate thoughts!

I’ve also linked up my earlier posts wherever they relate to the lines of the poem – I was surprised to find that so many posts of mine have been subconsciously influenced by a thought process so similar to the essence of the poem! Probably the reason why this one’s the last in this series – it’s one that I relate to the most in the list and ties up all the earlier poems in this series (and some more!) together in a dramatic way!

So here we go!

GO PLACIDLY amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.

Find your peace even amidst all the chaos you may be experiencing in your life. Silence is golden – You don’t have to speak only to break it.

I wrote recently in my post on Daffodils about ‘the bliss of solitude’. I truly find that when nothing else works, silence is the best therapy because in silence, you can hear and connect with your inner voice. Here’s a link to an earlier post on the ‘The bliss of silence’ that I wrote long back!

Silence – in personal and in professional interactions – can really help you perceive things differently and achieve results that many a time, words can’t!

As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons.

This one’s easy – don’t pick petty fights with people. Don’t compromise on your values in doing so, but try to be the bigger person whenever you can. You can be friendly without being friends with someone!

Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story.

Don’t be afraid of the consequences as long as you have done nothing wrong. Be honest and true to yourself.

We are all on our own life path and no matter how much we try, we can never really, completely understand another person because we’ll never go through what they are going through or experience it in exactly the same way. Being nice and showing some empathy goes a long way, as I have also written about in the posts linked here. The golden rule of ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you‘ applies here. In fact, go one step further and ‘Do unto others as they would like you to do unto them‘ – read more on this in my earlier post on the Platinum rule of relationships.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons; they are vexatious to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter, for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

This one’s a bit hard seeing as we don’t always get to choose our company! But as far as possible, keep joyful and civil company – people who bring out the best in you! This circles back to the first stanza of the poem – don’t let the noise outside of you drown out the voice inside your head!

One can’t help compare – whether its lifestyles, wealth, opportunities and/or fortune. Yet, it’s important to train the mind to not compare – To be able to be happy for others without being jealous of them.

Something I HAVE to mention here – Social media and TV today serve as constant reminders to us about the imperfect lives we are leading – imperfect only because they are stacked up against picture perfect instagram posts, travel feeds and a digital idyll that some people seem to be living in. It’s these comparisons that we need to be wary of!

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Enjoy the journey as much as the destination. Take time to make merry and soak in the joys of the present moment because you’ll never get it back! As I mentioned in an earlier post in this series, you may have miles to go before you sleep but you won’t cross this abundant forest again.

It’s interesting that the poet talks about career specifically in the midst of the other generic life advice that the poem offers because it just emphasizes how much our life really depends on it. Choose your career well and resist comparing it with others. As I mentioned in my previous post, life is a decision tree and we are defined by the choices we make. Have faith that you will have your time to shine and when you do, no one will be able to stop you. Remember that while you’re cribbing about a lost promotion, someone else is desperate for a job! So have patience and take pride in your work.

Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Don’t let the 5% of negative and treacherous people make you lose faith in the 95% of humanity that’s leading their life on the basis of goodness and strong values. Be careful but not paranoid.

Be happy for the little niceties that you see around you – that honest cabbie who returned your mobile because of his own integrity, a delivery-boy who got you your Subway amidst pouring rain because he was committed to his job, a co-worker who stayed back at work to help you finish yours because she genuinely cared – there are scores of people out there who are still being nice for no reason and with no ulterior motive. Don’t be blind to the possibility of being cheated, but don’t let your suspicion come in the way of creating valuable, positive and lasting relationships.

Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment, it is as perennial as the grass.

Don’t be apologetic for who you are! Be yourself and take pride in it. My first post in this mini-series was about ‘being YOU’ which you can read here. Another of my posts that you should go check out is this one – Being authentic. In a world that’s constantly trying to pigeonhole you into some some kind of boxed up definition, don’t lose yourself and your free spirit! And remember, part of being yourself is allowing yourself to change! So don’t stick yourself up against some past “ideal” that you set if it’s holding you back from being the best version of yourself today.

Love is all-encompassing. Love truly, widely and freely. And when you are loved, receive that gift with open arms because it’s nature’s way of telling you that you’re special and worthy and deserving of every iota of that love coming your way! But most of all, love yourself – the most – and not in a selfish way but in a caring, forgiving and accepting way!

Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.

Don’t be afraid of growing up. It’s not something you can control. Instead, enjoy the process. As you grow, a lot of things will change – the things you enjoy may not hold your attention anymore, the things you once found annoying may start becoming more bearable or even important to you. Being young in the mind does not mean not accepting the wisdom of the years. So you can still keep your spirit childlike while accepting gracefully, the changes that age brings.

Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

In simple terms, this translates as ‘hope for the best, but be prepared for the worst’. Steel yourself to fight anything that comes your way so that when misfortune strikes, you don’t cower down. But don’t let that stop you from being positive and cheerful. Don’t ever come under pressure to sell yourself out. Meditate on the good things in your life. Surround yourself with the people who matter to you, communicate effectively and try to uplift the people around you whenever you can.

Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.

Irrespective of everything, love yourself and be kind to yourself. It’s ok to make mistakes. It’s ok to falter along the way. Ask for help when you need it.

You are special and one of a kind – there’s no one else quite like you!! So own your place under the sun!

And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be. And whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

You may or may not believe in God. But know that there is a higher power that is keeping the cosmic checks and balances in order. Follow the principle – ‘Change what you can, accept and let go what you can’t and most importantly, know the difference’! Be positive, cheerful and kind, spread love and be honest to yourself. Everything will pass and what will eventually matter is not HOW you got through it, but that you DID!

No matter how broken or flawed it may seem, the world is still a beautiful place with lots to cheer about.

Focus on the sparkle in your life – The happiness you desire is within you. Allow yourself to feel it and spread it!

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Phew – I did say it was going to be a long-ish one. Maybe we can take the ‘ish’ out now!!

But if you got to the end of this post, you’ll agree with me on how this poem really covers EVERYTHING there really is to finding your sunshine!

Let me know if there’s a specific part of the poem that resonated with you the most!

That brings me to the end of this mini-series. I’ll be back with something new soon. Keep reading, keep following and keep commenting on my blog!

Take care you guys, and stay safe!

Two roads diverged in a wood – (My favourite poems mini series – instalment 5)

Hey folks, today I’m about to dissect another classic – this poem reinforces my belief in a self-coined adage – “Life is a decision tree”!

Robert Frost makes a reappearance in my mini-series – the only poet to feature twice in my top 6 poems list! This poem, “The road not taken” is another of his well-known works and one that most of us have at some point during our education, had to learn!

The road not taken - robert frost

I strongly advocate the fact that as individuals, we always have a choice. Every little thing that we do, we could have potentially not done or done in a different way. But we choose to do it a certain way for whatever reason – personal preference, societal pressure, impulse or desperation. But the key thing to remember and accept is that we CHOOSE it. Yes, things do HAPPEN to us but we CHOOSE how we react. Always!

Our life is nothing but a sum total of all the decisions we have taken and all the choices we have made.

Hence, I often say, “Life is a decision tree”!

Coming back to this poem, I can’t help but dwell on how the poet has described the dichotomy of the two paths – there’s just white and black, no grey! His thought process standing at the fork is something many of us face at every juncture in our life – black and white decisions – to or not to do, to say or not to say, to buy or not to buy, so on and so forth.

But of course, many of our life decisions are not white or black….there’s usually a grey area that many of us CHOOSE to settle down in when we are not able to decide between the white and black. For example – “I’ll do it later” or “I’ll not say anything now but maybe I’ll give it back to him some other time”!! And we keep hovering in this grey area everytime we cross it until eventually we have to make a decision – at which point we convince ourself that we don’t have a choice!! Could we really be more in denial?!

One part of the poem that really stands out for me is this –

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

These lines in the poem spell out for me, the urgency of deciding NOW because – ‘hey, here I am today and I may not have this opportunity again’!

Another implication of this para is that we’ll never really know how things would have panned out if we had chosen otherwise. And that’s why the poet spends so much time thinking and deciding his path.

Of course, I also wish that some years down the line, I could tell my kids that I had the courage to choose “the path less travelled”!

You can also read MY poem on a similar topic (the choices we make) here -> Choices. I hope you enjoy it!

Do let me know how you relate to this poem in the comments section below. Do you believe that some things are just meant to happen no matter how we choose? Or do you agree with me in that we always have a choice?

I really look forward to receiving comments on my blog because that gives me a chance to communicate and understand all of you, my dear readers, better and more importantly, make this blog more vibrant and active – an exchange rather than a monologue. So if you like my posts, please do leave a comment – a word, a para, your opinion or even just an emoji – oh wouldn’t that make my day!!

I’ll be back soon with the last post on this mini-series. I hope you are as eager to read it as I am to write it!!

Cheers!

Daffodils – (My favourite poems mini series – instalment 4)

I am yet to meet someone who has read this poem and not liked it or not related to it in some way.

This is such a happy, cheerful poem. And William Wordsworth’s brilliant selection of words brings about a vivid imagery such that one can’t help visualising a bright yellow field of blooming daffodilsΒ  when reading it. It’s really no surprise that this is one of his most famous works!

Daffodils_William Wordsworth

Yellow is such a cheerful hue, standing as it does for sunshine, hope and happiness. And to imagine this in the mind’s eye can only reap positivity and energy.

This poem has had even more meaning for me since I started practicing (occasionally) a bit of mindfulness meditation (more on that in a separate post). I find that focusing my mind on the image of a neverending field of golden daffodils the way the poet describes it helps me automatically fix my mind on the happier moments of my life!

The last six lines of the poem sum up what I feel when I read or think of this poem:

“For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.”

This para expresses so much inΒ  such succinct terms that most people who read it can relate to it! The ‘inward eye’ – or the ability to think about, visualise and focus on something that really matters to us – really does go into overdrive when we are in solitude! And to be honest, it’s so easy for that inward eye to go either way – for the cynics in us to always see the worst possible outcome (which, by the way, I am also guilty of many a time) or for the optimistic part of our mind to take control and give us strength, hope and cheer. Thinking about the daffodils gives wings to the latter part of our brain!

I would urge all of you to spare 60 seconds after reading this post to close your eyes, try to fix your mind on the visual of a field of yellow daffodils swaying in the breeze and think of all the things in life that you’re grateful for. If it helps, you can even put on some light meditation music.Β  If that does not uplift your mood, I’ll forgive you for un-following my blog!!

There is a really nice video on youtube that tells the story about how the poem was composed on 15th April 1802 when WW visited the the Glencoyne Park in Lake District, Cumbria, England. You can view it here. The video also has real footage of the swaying, dancing daffodils inspired WW,

But if for some reason, you don’t have time to view the video, you can rejoice by staring at the below gif for now!!

dancing daffodils
Two more posts left in this mini-series and then I’ll be onto something else πŸ™‚

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