By Invitation

Mere pyare dishwashiyon, Namaste, Adaab, Sat Sri Akal

People discovering latent talents, rekindling old hobbies, spending time with their family and working from home are some of the positives to emerge out of these dark times

Mere pyare dishwashiyon, Namaste, Adaab, Sat Sri Akal

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SY Quraishi

The coronavirus pandemic that has caused unprecedented upheaval around the world has not been without its benefits. It is clear that life will not be the same again. In some ways, it may even be better. What follows is serious stuff, albeit in a lighter vein.

1. The pandemic has done immense good to our sanskars. Namaste, Adaab or Sat Sri Akal shall be the only acceptable ways of greeting. Forget about handshake, not to mention the bear hugs. I shudder to think how PM Narendra Modi will cope with this when meeting his international counterparts. Could it be a US or Chinese conspiracy to kill the trademark expression of his affection?

2. We have discovered that TV has a lot more than shouting marathons or political sycophants masquerading as journalists doing public colonoscopy of unsuspecting guests. It also has interesting films of all genres, from all periods, soap operas, soulful music... We rediscovered Sherlock Holmes, Hercule Poirot, Yes Minister, and what not.

3. We have found out that home is not just a place for the family to sleep in. It emerged that various individuals who slept under the same roof were, in fact, a family. I discovered that I actually have a son who lives in the same house. There are so many things we could do together.

4. We also rediscovered some long-forgotten hobbies. Singing was at the top of the list. We discovered that we could still play guitar, piano or tabla we had learnt in our younger days. Girls have found a new touch to their dancing feet. Everyone has become a gardener. A cook. A dishwasher. Jokes abound but the one that takes the cake is the wives addressing their helpful husbands as “Mere pyare dishwashiyon!”

5. Online is the future of shopping. At the same time, colony hawkers are our best bet. We need to cultivate them (irrespective of their religion!).

6. Cashless transactions are catching on faster than what the government tried post demonetisation.

7. We can survive without liquor or without ‘hanging out’ just as we can sans restaurants.

8. Distance learning and online classes will replace classrooms. Many small educational institutions may even shut down. Conferences and seminars have already given way to webinars.

9. We discovered many dormant talents. It was nice to know that I could actually make good tea. Even nicer was the discovery that my wife could easily replace my barber. I saved Rs500 that the salon normally charges, but Rs5,000 tip tilted the balance. And never mind if I now look more like Kim Jong Un! A great reminder of our centuries old kinship when a princess of Ayodhya became the queen of Korea.

10. Work from home will become the new norm as it has many benefits for the employees and employers alike. It will cut down one to four hours of commute time, which will add to productivity. There will be enormous saving of fuel, which will lead to a cleaner environment while saving foreign exchange. The employers will save on transport allowance. They will also save on exorbitant rents of office spaces. Real estate owners are in for a tough time. They will lose many tenants with no new ones coming in.

11. Work from home will particularly benefit working women with small kids. No more rushed dropping off and picking up from crèches. No more anxiety about the housemaids maltreating the kids in their care while indulging in their romantic pursuits with neighbourhood Romeos.

12. While video conferencing was already catching on, meetings on Zoom and other such apps are here to stay. Since everyone, except the person speaking, has to mute the microphone, people will relearn the etiquette of not speaking out of turn. If the same principle was to apply to TV debates, many channels will have to shut shop.

Let’s learn to be optimistic. Remember, stars can’t shine without darkness!

The writer is author of ‘An Undocumented Wonder — The Making of the Great Indian Election’

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