Divya Mittal, a clinical nutritionist at Tesla Diagnostics Clinic, has been exercising and meditating ever since the lockdown started. And this is something she plans to continue even after the lockdown is over and fears of the COVID-19 pandemic starts to wan.
“Before the lockdown, I always came up with one reason or the other to not exercise. I’d rather binge on a series or do something else. But now that I have lots of free time so I’m religiously doing both and the positive energy that I’ve been getting from it is transformational,” she says.
Ever since the government imposed a strict lockdown from March 24, the majority of Nepalis have had to stay at home, restrict travels and change their lifestyle to a large extent. This lockdown period has allowed a lot of people to explore their creative side, give time to their families and pursue hobbies, which many plans to continue doing once the lockdown is over.
Roshan Nepal, a student, recently found out that he has a thing for slam poetry. “I’ve liked writing since childhood but sadly it’s only now that I’ve have been able to really give poetry a try,” he says.
Safe to say, the lockdown has given several people opportunities to try new things as well as foster habits that can be extended to daily life even after the pandemic is over. Along with exploring their creative side, most of the people this scribe talked to said that they have finally had the time to really connect with their family members which they say wasn’t really possible when they were going to work or school from nine to five every single day.
“The environment in my home and my relationship with family members has improved greatly ever since the lockdown,” says Abhusan Gautam who is a communications focal at UNDPCDRMP. He reveals that during the lockdown he realized that he had never given quality time to his family ever since he started working. Now, however, he senses that the distant feeling among his family members is finally narrowing after a long time. “I’ve been really happy now that I’m connecting with those dear to me. And so, I’ve made a commitment to truly make an effort to spend time with family from now on,” he says.
Mansi Oli, BBA student at Ace College, agrees with Gautam when it comes to the idea that this lockdown has made her closer to her family. And like Gautam, in the future, she’s going to make it a point to spend some quality time with her family no matter how busy her schedule is. “During the lockdown, I was able to care for my mother and father. Before lockdown, I was so focused on school work or eating out that I never really noticed how my parents were doing and what problems they were dealing with,” she says adding that she’s found a new sense of responsibility when it comes to checking up on her parents and she plans to continue it in the years to come.
Similarly, something people plan to take away from this lockdown is their newfound respect for family members who do household chores. “Household chores are no joke. Usually, we think stay-at-home moms have it easy, but in reality, doing the many, many chores around the house can be as tiring as working at a factory, if not more,” says Oli adding that she was filled with gratitude towards her mother for doing these demanding chores every day. “Now that I’ve experienced what it’s like to do these chores, I plan to make sure I chip in and do my part every day without any fuss whatsoever.”
It’s also no secret that the coronavirus pandemic and the subsequent lockdown have also changed the way people view school and office work. “This pandemic showed us that with the help of the technology that we have it’s possible for workplaces to minimize direct interaction and take some portion of the work online. What I’m trying to say is, if some meetings were to be held online, people can use that time to be with their family or be productive in other ways,” says Gautam.
Another important “life lesson” has been to learn to accept things as they are and not crave for something more all the time. For Bibha Sharma, who is self-employed, it means looking at the positive side of things and being content with all that she has. “This pandemic has taught me to try and live with less. Turns out, we don’t need so many things to be happy,” she says.
Moreover, the coronavirus pandemic has also made not just people in Nepal but humanity in general to rethink hygiene. All the people The Week talked to admitted that the main thing they would continue after all this was over was maintaining social distancing and hygiene not just for pandemics but for regular issues like the common cold or seasonal cases of flu.
Mittal says that, besides washing her vegetables thoroughly, she will wear face masks whenever she travels or has a mild flu and will advise people around her to do the same as well. “In Kathmandu, face masks were a must to combat pollution but now we have one more reason to wear them whenever we go out. We have finally realized just how dangerous air-borne diseases can be,” she says.
Rama Bhattarai, director at the Social Security Fund, says she plans to ingrain the habit of using sanitizers and washing one’s hand and feet before entering houses in her family and those around her. “In the past, when we were children, we were always told to wash our hands and feet thoroughly before entering the house. This habit was dying down in the recent times but the pandemic has reminded us just how important these little things are,” she says.
But perhaps the most important lesson that people seemed to have learnt is one on gratitude. Many people The Week spoke to said they would be more conscious of and grateful for all that they have and get to do instead of taking it for granted, be it family, the freedom to go out, and the money to be able to do so, like they did in their previous life—the one before the pandemic.