By Mudra Apr. 19, 2020
The lockdown has a few silver linings. First, Insta is a level-playing field and I find that the people who celebrated birthdays at Aer are just as basic as I am. Then, I no longer have to wax my armpits, and I have nothing left to prove.
Here, you heard it first: Lockdown sucks. No two ways about it. It’s hard for someone like me, and I hate people in general and don’t ever want to go out. So I can’t even comprehend the mental toll it’s taking on extroverts. It’s particularly bad for those who’re locked down with family – a group of people with whom you haven’t had to spend 48 continuous hours in a Bombay-size apartment in years now.
Still, I am a positive sort. I believe there are a few silver linings, even for those of us wracked by anxiety. (Positive sunshine-and-rainbows people who think “less pollution” and “being closer to family” are the silver linings, please stop reading immediately.) First of all, social media is suddenly a level-playing field. Until this lockdown began, for years, my Insta feed was filled with people way cooler than me. They were travelling through Capri or Norway, drinking local wine and getting tans. They were celebrating their birthdays at Aer, attending ₹4,000 cooking classes, and doing weekday brunches in Bombay. Meanwhile, I was telling myself that I’m “living vicariously” through them when I was actually just miserable about eating khichdi for the second time this week.
Now, however, you’re on my turf, bitches. And you’re all *just as basic* as I am. You have the same social media tools: sunsets from your window, being able to cook a fancy meal once a week (sweating profusely while you do so), and exactly one marketable hobby. You’re going to use Instagram to make “relatable staying-at-home content” suddenly? Well, well, well, how the turntables…
The coolest and hottest among us are now sans makeup, sans bodycon dresses, doing yoga on a mat at home and eating dal-rice because in a pandemic there’s no galangal and kaffir lime to make traditional Tom Yum soup. Game, set, match. Now there is no way for anyone to be jealous of anyone, because everyone is being pushed by their moms to clean their closets. Oh wow you have a walk-in closet? Joke’s on you, boss, cuz that’s gonna take longer.
Secondly, in this atmosphere of general world-weariness and with nothing left to prove, I’m able to let myself go. Until now, if there was ever a whole month when I didn’t wax my armpits, work out, or wear decent clothes, I’d have to take a hard look at myself and consider whether I need a therapist.
Now my gym is closed, I have no social plans and I only leave the house to buy vegetables. And why would I wax my armpits if no one’s looking at them and judging me, anyway? The mental stress of a pandemic means that I can lean in to every self-indulgent impulse I have, whether it’s eating two bags of chips in one sitting, buying makeup that I already know I’ll never wear, or waking up at noon only because I want to eat.
If you want to consider what your life would be like, stripped of all social and economic rules, this is it. Always wondered if you could someday pack up and move to a cabin in the hills and never come back? Now’s your chance to find out.
As we take a step back from grooming, our workplaces are finally taking a breather as well. Until now, every organisation has had a “work from home policy” but this policy is as theoretical as their prevention of sexual harassment policy: which is to say that it sounds great on paper but it doesn’t work, and the reason it doesn’t work is usually because of… Senior Management.
The mental stress of a pandemic means that I can lean in to every self-indulgent impulse I have.
Senior Management, who are in their fifties and sixties now, believe that if you’re at home, you can’t possibly be working. So on the odd occasion that you’d choose to work from home, they’d call you six times a day to check in on whether they can hear you partying or not. God forbid if they call you on a WFH day when you’ve stepped out to buy yourself a coffee from under your building or a bag of potatoes from the corner store. The Senior Management Boomer’s first assumption is, “You’re in Lonavala, aren’t you?” Thanks to all offices being closed, they’re discovering that a one-hour meeting is actually a 15-minute call. Shocking, I’m sure.
And then there are the pandemic’s bragging rights.
As they never tire of telling us, our parents started out with nothing, studied under a street light, crossed a river and wrestled tigers to get to school, built careers, purchased homes, raised families by the time they were our age. Well, finally you have something to use as leverage over your kids.
In 2035, when your teenager is being a completely ungrateful little shit, you can let loose with the whole spiel (and embellish as you wish). “We lived through a global pandemic in 2020, Siyona, what have you done?” “Everything is handed to you on a platter, Kiara, mum and dad survived for a month on nothing except dal and boiled rice.” “Stop complaining about career opportunities Arhaan, you haven’t lived through two recessions, have you?” (I know the jury is out on whether we live through this to have children, but we’re being positive here.)
And finally, as everyone pauses work a few times a day to chop vegetables, take out the trash or do jhadoo-pocha in their homes, a new entertaining subculture has presented itself: Privileged Bombay-Delhi folks finding it hilarious that they’re actually having to do their own housework. All of their Insta stories are accompanied by a caption which roughly translates to, “Hahaha look at me failing at <insert chore> lololol”, a fascinating insight into exactly how exceptional they think it is to be doing things around your own house.
The great thing about doing your own laundry, ironing, groceries, cleaning, cooking and dusting is that I’m hoping it changes us privileged mofos in some small way. If you’re forced to wait 20 minutes in the Nature’s Basket queue just to battle it out with another 30 connoisseurs of imported Norwegian salmon, maybe you’ll just buy chicken from the local store. Once you realise that the amount of bartan generated by your six-course “Lebanese night” is off the charts, you’ll swiftly see the many, many benefits of a sandwich. And maybe, just maybe, it will mean more respect for those who do all this work for you, so you can, I dunno, holiday in Capri. And that isn’t such a bad thing.
Mudra is in her late twenties, works in finance (unenthusiastically), binge-watches TV shows and tries to be ironic in her free time. Basically, Mudra is a millennial.