CORONICLES: How the lockdown taught me to be more considerate towards colleagues
When the Canadian government announced the lockdown, I was alone in a new country.
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When the coronavirus scare began, I was living unmindful of its severity in Canada, away from my parents, in-laws and also my husband, who was is in the US. I thought, it was just another SARS-like virus scare that surfaced in the early 2000s, killed many people, but never quite reached us.
Barely a month of this careless living and the truth struck us as countries began locking down citizens. I had moved to Ontario in Canada, from the US, just months before the coronavirus pandemic took over the globe, and was only beginning to settle in the new country and the new job. My husband was to stay in the US for a couple of months before joining me in Canada.
So, when the Canadian government announced the lockdown, I was alone in a new country. To be alone, away from your loved ones, is never easy. It is even more difficult in times of uncertainty. This pandemic is one such time.
The situation in Canada is not as bad as in other countries. But what worries me more than my risk of contracting the virus is the safety and well-being of my family - my old parents and siblings in India and my husband in the US.
Only essestial services are allowed to function in Canada currently. (Photo: Reuters)
Canada took timely actions and why not, the pandemic hit the Prime Minister's house in the initial days. Sophie Grégoire, Justin Trudeau’s wife, tested positive on March 12.
Canada gave the crisis its due seriousness with Justin Trudeau taking bold and decisive measures to halt the spread of the disease. He issued a strict warning, “Go home and stay home.” I, like scores of other people living in the country, are being sent constant messages and alerts to stay home. Those left out on the streets are also being taken care of.
Travellers are being asked to self-quarantine for 14 days. Those who flout the norms on quarantine and isolation are being issued fines and subjected to legal consequences.
The government administration in Ontario is working in collaboration with local businesses to ensure a steady supply of hygiene kits, free meals and accommodations for the homeless. The people who have lost jobs are receiving monetary support from the government.
One can step out only to buy essentials. Stores selling them are taking all precautions to prevent infections. The food industry is still allowing takeaway meals. They too are maintaining the highest hygiene requirements.
There are dedicated helpline numbers for information related to Covid-19 to ensure panic-stricken people have help at hand. People in the country have been requested to report symptoms or inform helplines about people nearby who may have symptoms. These calls are being responded to promptly, with health workers reaching such places and conducting tests. Where required, people are being kept in isolation or quarantine to break the chain of the spread.
For me, like millions across the world, the nights are particularly gloomy. Sleep eludes me on the nights that are noisy and quiet in the same go with the rustling of leaves. The surroundings are so gloomy that the twinkling of the stars and brightness of the moon fail to lift my spirits.
From my window, I can even see public buses pass by, though at a lower frequency. Each sighting of the bus makes me wonder about the dilemma, pain, insecurity, fear of all the people who have to set out of their houses and face this new world for work. Essential services in Canada are being provided to people uninterrupted, which means some people have to work amid the corona scare to ensure the services continue.
I am more empathetic to them, and my own worries and grievances appear less painful when I look at them.
I have a job that provides me the luxury of working from home. However much I grumble about the problems of my home office, it still puts me at a better spot than the essential service providers and healthcare professionals, and also better than the ones who are struggling for their livelihood because of this pandemic.
I have cribbed numerous times about not being able to eat out, but I sometimes wonder how difficult it is for some to feed themselves even once in a day.
The pandemic in some ways has changed me for good. In the initial days, I struggled to find a balance, what with social media going berserk with posts of how people are making the best of their time by creating moments with their special ones. I am stranded here alone, but then I realised it is okay to feel sad, scared, petrified, angry. The important part is to vent your emotions and understand that the adversities shape you into a better person. Though this unfortunate situation is unlike anything anyone would ever have dreamt about, we all have to accept it as the present reality and make the needed changes happily and hopefully.
I know now what matters more to me. We all know that life has come to a standstill, and we should all come out of our problems and prepare for a better tomorrow. Every week, I set a goal to achieve, appreciate everyone, from call centre employees to security guards for all they are doing in these troublesome times. I seek to indulge in things I have always wanted to devote time to, cultivate a positive attitude and do video calls with family, friends and colleagues.
One important realisation I made is that while we are all good and nice to our friends and family, we also need to be empathetic to our teammates. We need to dedicate time for them too, understand their fears and be considerate of their feelings. We should take time to make a phone call or send a message because this is the time to show that we really care.
To sum it up, there is no doubt this too shall pass like all good and bad things always do. There is not much we can do about this pandemic, but let’s be extra-compassionate, extra-thoughtful, extra-loving, and extra-helpful.
Contribute where you can spread smiles, spread happiness, have faith and stay home, stay safe.