By Vidhya Subramanian
We are all learning a new vocabulary – “Covid-19,” “Pandemic,” “Social isolation,” “Self-quarantine” in the face of this unprecedented event unfolding around us. History is in the making as we are riding the emotional roller-coaster of anxiety, worry, uncertainty and glimpses of hope. Covid-19 has shown us humans once again who is really the dominant species on this planet and how fragile our life is. And that no amount of technology and science can prepare us for everything nature has to throw at us.
Let me start though by acknowledging that it is a truly challenging situation for all of humanity, especially the ones that are directly impacted by this virus. Let us send love and prayers to families that have lost a member or have a loved one struggling to recover from this infection they have contracted for no fault of theirs. Let me also express my heartfelt gratitude to the many medical professionals and front-line emergency workers who have jumped in to help their fellow humans without a sliver of hesitation. A big salute to you. My family and I are in the lucky majority, whose biggest inconvenience at least right now is not being able to go out (“business as usual”) and having to work remotely, while kids are home due to school closures.
One of the most thought-provoking outcomes for working professionals is this scenario where everyone is home, all the time. If you are like me with high-school level, active teenage kids, and a dual career household, you will appreciate how rare this is. The more we have advanced as a civilization, we have fastidiously locked ourselves into this frenzy of activities and content consumption. (Binge watching anyone?) We often have extensive commutes, long workdays, multiple interests and activities and so many ways to satiate those interests. My family is tech-savvy and of course we each have our own set of gadgets. We even have a “Family” WhatsApp group, and any key update of interest will be shared there promptly. It is also the forum we use to track each other, in case none of us are home yet due to our activities. We are a very tight family in general and take pride in having most of our dinners together.
Then came Covid-19 and hit us like a tsunami in the most unexpected way. For the past week we are all home. There isn’t that morning urgency of all of us running out of the house early to face our weekdays. The white magnetic board on the fridge which usually lists our upcoming activities is empty for the first time since we bought it. The phone has stopped chiming the many reminders in our active calendars. All because we cannot travel, we cannot go to schools, work, gym, movies, restaurants or even the mundane grocery shopping. And for the first time, we are eating both lunch and dinner together at the table, and overall spending more time with each other. I am enjoying cooking and other chores because I am not exhausted beyond words from my long workday and commute. I am not negotiating with my spouse every day on who is in charge of dinner, since we both are home and just naturally end up tag-teaming to cook.
This past Sunday my older daughter turned 18. For her special birthday, just her and I had planned a trip to South Korea. Which of course we had to subsequently cancel due to the outbreak in that country a few weeks ago. Until last week, I had envisioned at least the traditional dinner outing with something fun to precede it to mark her birthday. We couldn’t go forward with anything, and the day ended up being wide open.
However, it turned out to be quite alright. I cooked an elaborate lunch for the family, my husband baked a brownie cake. We filled ourselves with a sumptuous home-cooked food (with tons of turmeric and other Indian spices to keep our immunity up), followed by a cake-cutting and a goofy happy birthday song. We then sat around the table and talked for 2 hours! There was so much laughter and sharing, and it turned out to be quite fun. We then relaxed a bit because it was still only 2.30pm in the afternoon. The kids decided to go for a drive to the beach given the mild weather, with a promise to not get out of the car and not interact with others. They watched the sunset and took some beautiful pictures for their Instagram and came back home. My husband and I went for a long stroll in the park, did some bird watching and came home. We then decided to cook something fun for dinner and made some bibimbaps from our meal-kit (which surprisingly still got delivered). The kids came back just in time and we all had a delicious, hot, fresh dinner again with some amazing conversation. We then proceeded to watch TV for a bit, with no pressure of the next day’s commute or thought of an early start to the day aka the “Sunday blues”.
While we all are at risk, while there is so much uncertainty and don’t know what future brings, there are also these bright spots we can cherish. Covid-19 will impact every single one of us in some way, that’s the only certainty right now. However, the time it has given us to take a step back and reassess our lifestyles and priorities is a gift we simply cannot ignore. We need to be grateful for this perspective, and the many conveniences we do have today that enable us to fight this pandemic more effectively. While we do that, let’s not forget who we are working hard for and what our true priorities are. If spending more time with our families while we are in isolation can bring us all closer to our loved ones, let’s be grateful for that and embrace it.
Stay safe; Follow instructions from the authorities; “Meditate and Exercise at Home;” Help others where you can; But be thankful especially if your biggest inconvenience is your gym being closed or your Amazon Prime orders running late. Let there be a few silver linings coming out of this very dark period. After all, the entire humanity is now taking it one day at a time.
Vidhya Subramanian is an executive leader who has spent most of her career at the crossroads of technology and business. For more than two decades, she has delivered innovative technology solutions to enhance business value, while managing large global teams. She has held senior roles in top organizations such as Goldman Sachs, Target, and JPMorgan Chase. Her last role at JPMorgan Chase was the CTO of a global business, where she drove transformation and enabled business growth through product strategy. In addition to being a diversity champion, she is also passionate about sustainability and wellbeing as social causes. Vidhya launched Zymmo with a goal to change the way people enjoy food. Vidhya holds a Masters in Engineering from The University of Texas at Austin, and an MBA from New York University.
Zymmo a marketplace that brings together chefs, foodies and venues to share their ideas, experiences and passions.