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Mumbai Women Shares Their Thoughts and Experiences in Lockdown

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Mumbai Women Shares Their Thoughts and Experiences in Lockdown

Article written by: Debjani Basu Mullick

Covid -19, or commonly known as Corona virus, is a name now known to every young and old, across countries and boundaries. This deadly virus, is spreading more and more every day throughout the country and the number of positive cases and deaths increasing every now and then. This virus has made us familiar with a few terms, which we hardly used to use earlier, like lockdown, quarantine, isolation. We, Indians are now in 21 days lockdown phase of which 16 days have already passed and in Mumbai, the lockdown has started even earlier. On a survey made, Mumbai women from different sectors have expressed their opinion and shared their thoughts and experiences during this lockdown.

Sharmila
Sharmila

To start with Sharmila, the owner of a restaurant in Mumbai suburbs says
“This lockdown came to me as a shock, lockdown for 21days which we have never experienced. First thing that came to my mind is of essentials and business. I had to shut down my business temporarily. Another major problem initially I faced was absence of maid servant. But now we are in second phase of this lockdown, and I have got used to managing home front alone and I am busy with three children, house cleaning, gardening, cooking.

But the most important thing I got to realise in lockdown is our mental health. We all are terribly busy in our own life, all of a sudden these 21 days gave us to think, rebuild my relationship with my children, made me more strong.

I am praying every day for everyone’s health and safety. Seeing so many poor people on road is real trauma. I am sure when we open up we all will be more responsible as a citizen, as a person.”
On a lighter note, she added
“But positive side of it is that we have something to share with our grand children as these pandemic is a lifetime experience.”

With Sharmila’s positive thoughts in mind, I approached Mrs Sudeshna Ghoshal, Director, Retail Scan Management Services Pvt Ltd to share her experience in lockdown. Sudeshna always have an interesting way of presenting and this time it was no exception. She had an interesting story to share. She said that the first few days of lockdown, for her was mixed with a sense of guilt and euphoria at the same time. Guilt? Naturally the question came to my mind. She explained that since she was working for a long time, she never used to take leave otherwise than for going on vacation, but she always wanted some absolute free time where she can sit back relax, spend time with her kids. But when the lockdown started, she got that free time but the guilt was there in her mind, the cause for the lockdown and the effect on worlds economy. She said “Euphoria that I felt for the first 2/3 days was immense, I decided to cook what my kids love, spend some time chatting with my parents, which they always expected me to do. I wanted to do a lot of things like sorting my clothes, reading books, watching movies. So it was guilt and euphoria for the first 2/3 days. Then reality started sinking in and then came another big emotion , I.e anxiety, will we able to keep our customers happy during these long 21 days of lockdown?” She added that since SMEs do not have enough infrastructure , all junior employees are not equipped with computers and wifi at home, and so it would be difficult to meet the requirements of clients during this lockdown period and it was necessary to keep the entire team connected to avoid slackiness which eventually affects work. Finally arrangements were made and the entire team started “working from home”.

Sudeshna
Sudeshna

She continued “Working from home (WFH) is something we, the women always wanted but this was the first time that I started working from home seriously and I found that it comes with all its pros and cons. She says that no dressing up, no travelling through the maddening traffic are definitely the pros of WFH, whereas she being an early riser , she prefers finishing her part of house hold chores which is mainly cleaning the house early in the morning and then start her WFH part; whereas most of her team members have a different cycle and prefer starting late , so there arises a coordination problem, moreover she says that we have a tendency to take more snacks or tea breaks and heavy lunch at home which further results in a preference of reclining on bed and working, leading to less productivity. So given an option, will Sudeshna prefer to WFH after the lockdown is over? The answer was very clear, “I would love to go back to office, to meet the people, to be able to talk to people, get plans , projects implemented by looking at them right at their face into their eye understanding the body language and living without the anxiety.” Sudeshna concludes by saying that” This lockdown period has taught the world many things like while most of the large economies spend so much on defense, very few of them actually spend much on healthcare, it has brought to light how much pollution we generate, it is brought to light how relationships are between our family members. This is the time, we can introspect a lot and your relationships can be reviewed. So having said all these, that the lockdown has taught the world, the lockdown has taught me that ” I love my office even more than I used too”.”

But some women have a different thought process too, they always prefer working from home , one being Mrs Dipannita Banerjee, Content Editor with a financial media house. She said that ” WFH is not a new concept for me, I am doing this for the last three years, but this time it was definitely challenging. With no help around, I have to manage the cooking, cleaning, washing and then the extended login hours. ”

Dipannita Banerjee

She herself being a media person adds ” This period the media is booming and buzzing with news and reports, Covid – 19’s effect across industries, transactions and deals, so my hands are always full but what keeps me motivated and what keeps me going is that I have planned my day and have divided it into two compartments. I know exactly the hours that I will give to each work and I prefer to finish my house hold work at least one and a half hour before my shift starts and also I plan ahead, so that morning when I am up I know exactly what is to be prepared for breakfast lunch , dinner or snacks. One more thing that I never forget to do is to think of the gratitude, the privilege we can enjoy even during this lockdown, at least we have home where we can stay indoors, there are people who cannot afford to stay indoors at this hour and this is just a phase and this too shall pass.”

Poulami Neogi, employee State Bank of India, appreciates the steps , implementation and follow up of lockdown procedures in Mumbai. She says , ” whenever I go out for any grocery essentials or medicines I find that the roads are empty and the people who have come for shopping are maintaining social distancing norms and waiting with patience. ” She adds ” Being a Bank employee, which comes under essential services , I am going for work everyday. On the way I find that police are checking identity cards and letters from organizations to verify whether the movement is with purpose; even in petrol pumps petrol is given only on showing such letters and IDs.”

Poulami
Poulami

She shares that the main problem she is facing during this lockdown is as a mother of a five year old. “Restricting a five year old at home for days, who is so used to going out to play in the society, going out for other activities and schooling is so difficult. ” On a positive note she added, ” I would say, not only my child, others of his age in our society or the ones I know are cooperating beyond their capability and are maintaining all those norms that are to be maintained at this hour. Probably they are also understanding the difficult situation.

Overall, we all are going through a very bad phase, but we hope that the earth heals soon, and people learns that this earth is not only for humans, there are other living beings too and since the humans have slowed down, the other animals have got space to breathe, hope we remember this even after the lockdown is over.”

Poulami’s worries as a mother are very clear from her words, but the teachers are also similarly worried about their students. Mrs Maushami Sen, teacher Rayan group of schools shares a very shocking experience that she had just before the lockdown ,” As a Board examiner I had a very different experience this year, when I went to the examination hall, I found all 25 students wearing masks, for one minute I felt where am I? I am in hospital or examination hall ? I am really worried for all students who have appeared for Board exam this year. I am praying to God for their good future because till date few exams are on hold. All the best to my dear students. ”

Maushami Sen
Maushami Sen

Maushami along with sharing her experience as a teacher, adds “Lockdown, isolation, quarantine call it by whatever name, we have been blessed with, this is the time to rework and reassess things that we probably lost in our fast space life. I fell in love with my own house once again, the most important development is caring of my own house. This isolation made us more hygienic , more disciplined, self sufficient and diverted our mind from junk food, we became more confident that we can run our house without any maid. Isolation period helped me to reconnect with those people who made an important role in my life. I made a list and found apart from my parents, my siblings, my close friends , many are there with whom I have lost contact. I rebuilt my relationship with them and the immense pleasure I received that is a treasure in my life and for this I will always remember this quarantine period.”

She continued ” One more thing which I have found in this isolation period is my “me” time . Being a fashion fiesta, I wanted to do so many experiments with my look, my style statement. But because of my daily busy life, I do not get time to do all these experiments and in this isolation period I did all these desirable experiments. It’s not that all came out in a very nice way but I felt nice and satisfied with all these things and that “me” time which I have received is unforgettable, I don’t think I have ever received and at the same time don’t want to receive it this way either.”

Five different Mumbai Women from different sectors, yet most of them have talked about rebuilding relationships, about being a more responsible citizen, about utilizing this suddenly available free time in the best possible way, all are positive and we too hope that the earth heals soon, and it becomes even a better place to live in than before . We should never forget the lifetime experience we had and the learnings we received from it, when survival becomes a question, trivial things in relationships or luxury does it really matter?

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