To panic or not to panic – life in the time of Corona

A friend invited us over to their place last week, and when I asked her what to bring, she said    ” Just come over, don’t worry about the food. And by the way, maybe bring a few rolls of toilet paper if you have spare ones at home”.

I thought it was funny but spending a fair bit of my time in queues over the next few days in a variety of grocery stores looking for toilet tissue, I realized that the fun element in it is long lost. And that is exactly why i could not laugh when another friend said to me that all she could find in the meat section was kangaroo meat which their family had to settle in for dinner.

Well, it really didn’t take long before all these seemingly far-fetched jokes became reality. As live telecasts of Prime Minister’s and Premier’s updates on Corona became a norm, and our social media news feeds got clogged up with Corona related news – some of them genuine, and some of them opportunistic – one thing was obvious: the crisis is here, now.

As the pandemic unfolded, more than the Covid-19 itself, the domino effect took over. Health sector got challenged. Tourism, hospitality and events industries started feeling the crunch. Small businesses struggled, and employees are stood down. A new set of words creeped into our vocabulary. Self-isolation, social distancing, flattening the curve, quarantine, herd immunity and so forth.

And the fact is, the Australian Government has clearly given us the number, as to how long this might go on for – an approximate 6 months. The focus is bound to change there. What matters now is, all these measures we take to keep ourselves from contracting Covid-19, and help prevent its spread, need to be sustainable.

There are two options.

a. Be driven by panic and go on an exponential rate.

b. Be calm, work on it believing that ‘this too shall pass’.

Do we really have a choice? Well, I don’t. I need to stay calm to get through this.

The logic is simple. You can’t panic for 6 months straight.

So, the next step in the flow chart is, what do I need to make it happen? It certainly pays to listen to the basic advice to wash our hands, stay home if sick and not to engage in mass gatherings to flatten the curve. Social distancing only needs to be physical distancing, nurturing of our social connections can still happen. Let’s make use of our phones to keep in touch. How about an old-world style phone call or a text message (of course after wiping down the phone with an antibacterial wipe) to check on each other? How about paying attention to our neighborhood to see if the neighbour is under self-isolation, and check if they need to buy some food or medicines, or maybe some toilet paper? And going for other commonsensical actions like – go with some reserves for grocery and essential medicines, but shop as ‘normal shoppers’ maybe, instead of being the proud owners of supermarket aisles? And be a little bit kinder to the salespeople at grocery shops during their trying times? Or make good use of our downtime at homes – reading that book that you have been wanting to, for ages? Repotting a plant that has overgrown its pot?

And have faith that the silver lining on the cloud is promising. Once we are on the other side of the Corona times, we may never underestimate the privilege of being able to greet someone with a handshake, attend a friend’s birthday party at their home, the rush in the public transport, or a simple night out where you don’t need to be worried about needing 4 m2 for 1 person. We will certainly have a better concept of personal hygiene. Boring daytimes will be highly treasured; with no breaking news and constant updates to watch out for. And if we try hard, at the end of the day, we may emerge as better people too who genuinely appreciate living an ordinary routine life.

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