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Meditations in an emergency

This forced disruption in the way we live and work, is bound to change the way we rethink certain areas of our life. What is your post-pandemic resolution

In this episode of ‘Mad Men’ set amidst the Cuban missile crisis of 1962, characters make desperate resolves fearing a nuclear strike.
In this episode of ‘Mad Men’ set amidst the Cuban missile crisis of 1962, characters make desperate resolves fearing a nuclear strike.

I have been rewatching Mad Men in these long-drawn pandemic days. I have decided it’s the best, most polished TV drama ever made. We might change but its lead, Don Draper, remains the same lovable narcissist. I am aware this is a hasty conclusion but there are so many hasty conclusions floating around these days. Things we are going to do differently in the post-pandemic era: Grow our own herbs in the kitchen garden; meet our friends more often; learn how to drive; give up smoking, and that addiction to so-and-so coffee ground daily at so-and-so place.

Top of the list, among my single friends, is to live with someone who can cook well. And more importantly, do their part with the dishes, if the need should arise. About a decade ago, I had briefly dated someone who told me he “loved doing dishes". It was de-stressing, apparently. Both of us lived in India and never needed to do dishes if we were being honest. It seemed pretentious; I thought he was trying too hard. But I have been thinking about him these days. He must be so wonderfully de-stressed.

This lockdown, this forced disruption in the way we live and work, is bound to change the way we think about the big stuff: the way our homes are set up, relationships, parenting, schooling, travel, insurance, work culture, our reliance on digital media, personal fitness. Some industries, such as travel, are already gearing up for that change: more domestic travel, more heritage tours of our own cities.

As someone who has never enjoyed gyms, I have been watching the frustrated gym rats with amusement as they do step-ups in the building compound. Yoga apps are practical but I miss the energy of a group class. As the perfect middle ground, one of my yoga teachers is now hosting regular classes on Zoom. I daresay this trend of working out online might continue post pandemic. Just last week, we carried a piece on Les Mills, the world’s largest group fitness company, which has a range of online exercise packages to help you stay fit during the pandemic.

“If you can’t go outside, go inside," my yoga teacher texted. He’s also doing guided Yoga Nidra meditations over Zoom. I highly recommend the practice, a kind of dynamic sleep which lulls you to sleep while daring you not to. The prime minister endorsing it might be my favourite of all his covid-time communications, though I started a few months ago. You will find several guided meditations on YouTube or SoundCloud.

I have been a staunch opponent of the idea of work from home—I thought it was the bastion of the lazy or the socially inept—but it has been working so well for Team Lounge. This is the second issue entirely produced with all of us working from home and meeting twice a week on Google Hangouts or Jitsi Meet.

If you are like most people I know and have ageing parents you don’t live with any more, you have probably been thinking about how to set things up better for them. Maybe move closer? Maybe hire full-time help? Perhaps the idea of an assisted living facility might not sound so terrible any more.

The fantastic season 2 finale of Mad Men is titled Meditations In An Emergency, after the Frank O’Hara book of poetry by the same name; Don Draper is introduced to the book by a stranger in a bar. Set amidst the Cuban missile crisis of 1962, it shows how people make desperate resolves under extenuating circumstances. One character, fearing a nuclear attack, leaves New York with her silver, but not her husband. A priest tells another, in a bid to make her come to church: “Don’t you understand that this could be the end of the world, and you could go to hell?"

Many of us have individual moments of reckoning in our lives. But we are now in the midst of a collective reckoning that is set to change the world we live in. At a very personal level, it is a time to set our priorities straight. To question what we really need to live well, to share with those less fortunate than us, to love and express that love more generously. What is your post-pandemic resolution? I am certain you have one – even if it is something as seemingly insignificant as buying a dishwasher.

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