On Saturday, March 14th 2020, a two week shut down was declared for most educational institutions, including mine, and public spaces like malls, in Bangalore, in light of the spread of coronavirus. I currently reside in my college hostel. As soon as the news was received by the public, students in my hostel started booking tickets to their native places, huge luggages were being packed, flights/trains/buses were being booked, calls were being made, masks and gloves were being bought, hand washing was being learned. It was a complete chaos and panic stricken sight.
People were more worried about how they’d spend their time in quarantine than they were about the virus. Friends started making a list of shows they could binge watch, books they could binge read, liquor they could stock. And that made me wonder how the whole epidemic of coronavirus had forced us stop running on the treadmill of capatilism and pause, reflect on where this treadmill is actually taking us. Are we actually getting somewhere or are we running away from ourselves, all this time?
With the boom of cellphones, most of what we subscribe to on this gadget is designed to keep us hooked, whether it is Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Youtube, Tinder or Netflix. The world’s best engineers, designers, linguists are putting their brain to keep us going on the treadmill. Our brains are addicted to being constantly fed by what’s happening around whether it is our deadline to deadline work or shopping lists or the most recent match on Tinder. We are hooked, fed and addicted. And the more we do this, the less we turn towards what’s on the inside as we slobber ourselves all over what’s on the outside.
The whole two week break, to me, now seems like a blessing in disguise wherein it serves as a good time for us to pause, sit and reflect. If not reflect, then relax and give my mind a break from all the constant processing. Maybe I will learn how to be comfortable and appreciate silences better, maybe I’ll learn how to savour both food and water better, maybe I’ll draw joy from cleaning the space I live in, maybe I’ll make more meaningful connections in this time of crisis, maybe have a more fulfilling conversation where I genuinely hear someone, and not listen for the sake of responding. There’s so much that I could do with such little tasks.
We’ve been busy filling our bowls for a while and they are overflowing now. So maybe it’s time, we emptied them, bit by bit, day by day. Now that my hostel is almost vacant, I’ll tune myself out of the crowd and into myself. In this epidemic, we have learned not only the value of life and everyday security but also the value of slowing down and looking around at what’s happening.
I understand that many of you out there currently find yourself in the same situation as me, locked inside a space. I’d love to hear what you think about the whole ordeal, in the comment section below.