A Changing Sense of Time During Lockdown.

Let’s talk about the concept of time during the COVID19 pandemic today.

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.”

The opening lines of Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities really capture how I feel about the lockdown during the current coronavirus pandemic. The reasons to dislike it are obvious and many; I can’t go outside, can’t meet my friends, can’t go to college, the economy is being ruined, so many livelihoods are affected and obviously, so many people are getting ill and dying, the aforementioned worst of times. I have been privileged enough to, however, find some nice things about it too; a whole lot of gratitude for what I had taken for granted before, all this time to spend doing things I love, how I have been able to work on my blog and have a transformed outlook on living every day to the fullest, not the best but very special times. (As of today, I am still very much in the thick of the pandemic, so the day I get back out there is a bit far for now)

I have talked about the coronavirus pandemic, its impact on the world and most majorly, its impact on my world in two of my posts before, which you can find here and here. In both of these posts, I talked more of the immediate reaction to suddenly finding myself in the middle of this pandemic and stuck at home, than the effects of being on lockdown for what is now the majority of 2020 and the contemplations that come with it. In this post, I’m getting into that aspect of life through a pandemic. (And I admit that this is through my undoubtedly privileged lens)

One thing I have noticed and have actually discussed with a few people is that time seems to be standing still and whizzing ahead at the same time. Like, how I for one feel like I have just been living the same day over and over and have not registered the passing of the months after March. (How is it literally almost August?) But also, there is the fact is that somehow 4 almost 5 months have passed and my 21st-year in life and 4th(and last) year in University are just passing me by, without me having registered it.

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This realisation that time stops for no one, not even a crippling,world-stopping pandemic, is not a new one. We choose not to think of it but even so, we do sometimes realise this in regular life too, as we look back and think, “Oh, I was just in school!”, “I just became a teenager!”, “Didn’t I just get my driver’s license?” and many more such quips, but never as acutely as now. This has been bothering me since at least May when I realised my third year of college was effectively over, abrupt as it was. This worry has only grown since and thus, obviously, I have done a lot of (over)thinking about it.

All this thinking has brought me to conclude that we, as a society, as human beings, measure the passage of time through milestones, through events, through watching the world around us change. Being stuck at home means that the big occasions; the birthdays, weddings, graduations look quite different or are cancelled. Not getting to go outside means that we don’t get to watch the seasons change, through the trees and the sky, not properly, so we miss out on nature’s signs that time has passed. We tend to make plans for the next few months and countdown to them and in such uncertainty, all plans have been thrown for a wrench. We can no longer plan vacations, parties or even, going to college far from home. With nothing to look forward to, we don’t quite feel the months as they pass us by.

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As depressing as that sounds, I also came to realise that the best way to handle lockdown is to live one day at a time, even if it is the same day over and over, try to find something new to do every day, to do things that make you happy, to socially distance but not emotionally distance and to use this crazy time to come out better at the end of it. With that thought, before I go, I’d love to wish you good luck for the rest of the year and take this opportunity to say that I really hope you and your loved ones stay healthy and safe. Please take care!

THIS POST’S QUESTION: Have you felt like time is going by too fast during the lockdown or do you think it is going too slow? Comment below with what you think about it,I’d love to hear from you!

7 Things I Realised When I Read Harry Potter as an Adult

Let’s talk about reading Harry Potter as an adult today.

After one particularly rough day, during the lockdown, I decided to cope with this unprecedented situation the way I have coped with many things: by reading the Harry Potter series. This has been one of my big personal projects during this time, apart from the work and school and all: rereading the entire Harry Potter series. (That is the 7 books J.K. Rowling wrote, I do not count the Cursed Child, there are fanfictions far better than that travesty.)

I last read the Harry Potter series in 2013 when I was 7 years younger and deep in the throes of my teenage rebellion. Now, in 2020, I’m a young adult, I have grown out of my rebellion and have realised that there is a lot about the world that I do not know. I also already knew the story and all the plot twists and was not going to get any big plot surprises through this read. What I did get was a lot of emotions, rediscovery of the ability to be sucked in a book that I thought I lost to my teens and a lot of realisations. These realisations are what I present to you today and so without further ado, here are 7 things I realised when I read Harry Potter as an adult.

  1. Just how tragic James and Lily Potter’s deaths and their whole situation was.

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As a kid,21 seemed to be a very grown-up and very far away age. Hence, James and Lily dying at 21, leaving behind their 1-year-old son seemed sad to me but the weight of the tragedy didn’t quite hit me. I am 21 now. 21 is way too early and to go the way they did? It is awful. Add to that the fact that Sirius Black, who was innocent and had just lost his best friends, got blamed for the whole thing by the man responsible for it, framed for another crime he didn’t commit and thrown in prison for 12 years, also at 21. That is such a terrible situation to be in so young and so incredibly tragic. (Also one of the reasons I stand by my belief that we deserve Marauders Era books and movies; they will be tragic but they will be so interesting and these people deserved to be remembered in more ways than the tragic tales they became)

2. Just how great a family the Weasleys were.

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The Weasleys were a great representation of being poor, but as a family, absolute gold. The way Molly Weasley immediately sent Harry a Christmas present when Ron realised he probably won’t get one, the way they always took Harry in and provided him with the best of what they could, always checked on him, cared for him, and how they all considered him family and became one when they didn’t have to, was amazing. Be it Molly Weasley’s protectiveness of Harry, the Weasley twins providing him with the Marauders map, Ginny, of course, being his future wife and Ron his best friend through it all and many more such instances, Harry had always had the Weasleys behind him at the moments he needed support. The Weasleys, Hermoine and Hagrid were with him, always and were his family and I did not give them enough credit for this as a child.

3. Just how wonderful a person Harry James Potter was.

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Harry Potter had a very tragic life. His parents were murdered, he lived in an abusive household and narrowly escaped death multiple times and lived through a war and lost many close to him. As a kid for me and I suspect many others, Harry suffered from what I call the Protagonist’s Curse. No one said their favourite character was Harry himself, mine was Hermione and people chose any character really, as minor as they could be but not Harry. This is stupid because Harry Potter was an absolute gem of a person. To have gone through what he did, to live through the abuse the Durselys put him through, to be the Chosen One, to lose your few loved ones to the cause and to still be brave and just inherently good when he was so young it absolutely wasn’t fair, is amazing. He was a deeply selfless and wonderful person and this time around I got very affectionate and attached to the kid and I think he deserves a lot more credit than he gets. I didn’t realise how he was just a child living through absolute hell.17 seemed old when I was a kid.

4. Just how wasteful all the deaths felt and, where and how much they (still) hurt. 

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All the deaths, right from Cedric Diggory to Remus Lupin, were impactful yet felt so wasteful. Cedric was a great guy and a good person, and he died so suddenly, so young. Sirius Black, who had lived a tragic fate he didn’t deserve, had finally built a relationship with his godson, just happened to get Stunned in the wrong place. Dumbledore, who is, admittedly a character with shades of grey, deserved a better death, not the one where he was disarmed and weak already. Mad-eye Moody too, as a brave Auror, deserved a better way to go. Dobby, and Hedwig, were too innocent and too pure to have gone out the way they did. Severus Snape, a very grey character, didn’t quite deserve that gruesome death. Fred Weasley, jokester and happy guy, did not deserve to die young. Remus and Tonks, who had just had a new baby boy, shouldn’t have died leaving him an orphan as an echo of the deaths that started this all, James and Lily Potter’s. All these deaths had a far-reaching impact and just really really hurt but were true to the fact that in war, the young, the innocent, the old and the seasoned die all the same. (Also dead: my heart after reading about all deaths these again)

5. Just how well-developed and well-written the Magical world was

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As a child, I knew the books were good because I loved them but as an adult, who has read a lot more books, I have come to realize just what a great piece of writing they are.  I can only hope and dream that one day I can write something half as good as these books. The world and its nuances are so well developed and so rare, J.K Rowling really made magic, in the most literal sense with these books. They are something special, something that only happens, once in a while. Hogwarts, the Ministry of Magic, places like Diagon Alley, Hogsmeade etc. are just testaments to a world well developed. In fact, it is so well developed that many people(Myself included) would rather reside in this fictional world than our real one and that is saying something.

6. Just how much better the books were than the movies.

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Don’t get me wrong. the movies are great by themselves, I love them and will watch them if they’re on for nostalgia reasons. However, when stacked against the books, the books win by a wiiiide margin. With the books the places your imagination can go, the movies can not. So much is better in the books; Ron’s entire character, Ginny’s entire character(Travesties these two are in the movies really), Hermione is well, human, the entire battle of Hogwarts(And most duel scenes or fighting really) At the end of the day, the books are the OG’s and the movies simply can’t compare.

7.Just how much I love Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

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When I was young, if you asked me my favourite Harry Potter book, it would, without a shadow of a doubt, be Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. It was the most complex, it answered all the questions, it added depth to characters like Dumbledore, it revealed the huge plot twist that was Severus Snape, all in all, it was the perfect culmination to the series. My favourite movie, however, has always been Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, as it is the truest to the book. This time, I enjoyed reading the Prisoner of Azkaban book and realised that it is my favourite Harry Potter book now. It introduces many new concepts like Azkaban and beloved characters like Sirius and Lupin, Hogwarts has great teachers for once so the education is fun to read about, the Marauders come into the picture and most importantly to me, it is the last happy book. With Voldemort coming back in the next one and the war starting, there is a very obvious tone shift and for me, the happiness in this book and in Harry, who as I mentioned I grew very attached to mattered a lot.

THIS POST’S QUESTION: What have you realised about the Harry Potter books as you have grown up? Comment below with what you think about it,I’d love to hear from you!

 

 

 

Life In The Time of Corona

Let’s talk about my life and experiences with the coronavirus pandemic today.

Let us begin at the very beginning: my birthday. I turned 21 on March 10, 2020, and my family was in the Corbett National Park, on vacation. There was not much talk of the virus there, except the sanitiser bottles provided at the reception and restaurant. It was business as usual. After all, there were 50 total cases in India, no deaths, some people had already recovered and they were only in cities, not a town like the one we were staying in. We came back to Delhi, where I go to University, and I realised that things were not okay when I saw the kind of panic and flurry of masks everywhere. New Delhi was debating locking down the city and closing all schools and colleges to stop the spread of the virus. In 2 days, my University was shut and I told my parents, who were going to Mumbai, our home, on the 16th, to take me along.

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Together, we came back on the 16th of March, armed with our masks, sanitisers, constant hand-washing and being very very careful. Less than a week after my birthday, things were so drastically different than what I could have ever imagined. I was home and have not left the house since. My University began online classes and I was, if possible, more exhausted by them than regular college. It was hard to learn through just the video because my teachers through no fault of theirs, were struggling with this new medium, the classes were published for longer hours, staring at a screen with earphones in for 8-9 hours a day was physically tiring and sitting with assignments after that made it worse. Though it was a rough time, I was busy. It made it easier to deal with things and major life changes like the whole country being on lockdown, the world suffering at the hands of the COVID-19 virus and being far from friends and loved ones.

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My semester officially ended on April 1st and finishing up all the assignments and stuff I was fully done with it by the 3rd. By this time, the country had 50 times the cases it did on my birthday, we were on a country-wide full lockdown, all flights had been completely stopped and, economy and humanity were both suffering. My college then decided to prepone our Summer Internships and think of the exams we would have ordinarily had when the situation “normalises”(So they hoped.So I hope, to this day.)It was made 4 weeks instead of 8 and was scheduled to begin from the 13th, giving me a 10-day ‘holiday’, in which I somehow had to conjure an internship in an environment where people were losing their jobs of many years. Eventually(and thankfully), I got into a company through my college and had an internship in the nick of time(Got my acceptance literally the day before we were supposed to start.)

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In my 10 day ‘break,’ I took the first day or two to chill, which was great but then I realised how the empty mind really is the devil’s workshop. I now had all the time in the world to stress and worry about the current situation, the fast-spreading disease, the people who were ill, the people who had died and the pandemic’s impact on the future, especially as someone who was supposed to find a job this year and graduate next year. All my internship plans had clearly fallen flat, and offers I was pursuing were withdrawn. It was a horrible time, mental health-wise. This is when I first began to be active with blogging again because it helped me cope and gave me something to do. I also made a bunch of mug cakes, made the viral whipped coffee(and realised I should not have coffee, ever) DIY decor things, did a good amount of housework and read some books. (You know, usual pandemic activities) I was always an introvert and would have gladly chosen to Netflix over going out to socialise pre- corona, but I was beginning to realise the value of social interaction, of my university, of being able to be surrounded by people your age.

After the break, I began my internship and my time was filled with meetings with your guide, meetings with my team, working on our project, reading and watching stuff to work on our project and other things that all come down to the project. I am about to finish with my internship and will then be occupied by writing reports on it, for my University. In these 4 weeks, however, I have watched quite a few shows with my family (like Downton Abbey and The Good Place, both of which I highly recommend), watched the news every night to hear about the current COVID cases count, began rereading the Harry Potter books(which I am documenting on my instagram so if you’re interested to join in!), had many baked goods(Thanks mom!) and wrote more blog posts than I have ever written in a month. Musings of A Whimsical Soul has never in the last 4 years(Except the very beginning where I was publishing posts ever two days like a maniac) had a twice a week posting schedule and blogging have become my escape, my recluse and my coping mechanism, yet again.

That brings us to now,2 months into lockdown, no end in sight, with 74K cases in the country, 4.28 M in the world(At the time of writing this post) and us as a world living through these extraordinary times and our new ‘normal’. Most of us have not lived through a pandemic before, the whole world has been brought to a standstill by one virus and we have all realised the value and delights of the good old ordinary life, the life I for one, so easily criticised before.

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I have to admit that I speak from a place of privilege. I am lucky enough to have a roof over my head, be able to eat and sleep and live with very little major change in my life, have an internet connection, not worry about losing my job, I am with my family, I am not at risk by the virus itself and so much more. I am highly and deeply privileged in these times and I would be remiss to not acknowledge it. My objective with this post was not to flaunt my luck but simply to tell my story, to share my highs and lows, to feel connected with all of you across the world, to pay my respects to the unfortunate loss we are facing, stand with all those who are fighting this terrible illness, to let you know that we are all in this together, even if our stories may be vastly different.

This is a much harder time for many of us, and the only thing I can say is, please help if you are privileged enough and able to, please understand what other people are going through, please be empathetic and please, be human. These are unprecedented times and it is in times like this that we realise just how fragile the world we have built is and how important it is to support each other. These are hard times, difficult times and we can only get through them together. Support local businesses and practice social distancing, if not for you and your family then do it for the essential workers risking their lives for all of us at the frontlines. Stay strong and be brave. Give yourself credit, and don’t feel the pressure to ‘hustle’ and be productive right now. That’s not to say do nothing, but we must change our definition of ‘productive’ to one that fits the new world we live in rather than the world we were in before.

Good luck, take care and stay safe!

THIS POST’S QUESTION: What is your COVID-19 story? Comment below with what you think about it,I’d love to hear from you!

The Dance of Hobbies Lost.

Let’s talk about lost hobbies and my neglected relationship with Classical dance today.

These days, with being shut in the house, with nowhere to go, not much to do and always being inches away from driving each other insane, social media is the obvious respite. So, as I scrolled through Instagram and saw everyone else bake, cook, make art, play instruments and develop new hobbies I went down the rabbit hole of my thoughts and realised that I was no longer the person with a million hobbies as I had been for most of my life. I had, somewhere along the years, lost my many hobbies. But how, did I get here?

I was a pretty hyperactive kid, on an almost clinical level. My parents knowingly, or unknowingly cracked how to deal with all my pent up energy: Activity classes. I was always in a billion activity classes. You name it, I’ve taken a class for it. Be it arts and crafts, piano lessons, abacus classes, dance lessons, karate, roller skating, I’ve done it all. I left all classes over the years for various reasons ranging from  I was simply getting busier with school and couldn’t keep up with all my classes, I just really sucked and it was a waste of time and money and the ultimate, me or some other kid was injured and it scared our moms into pulling us out of the class.

I don’t regret having lost touch with most of them. Obviously, the ones I was terrible at or didn’t engage with for too long I hardly miss, but I do have some form of sadness attached to the ones I was good at. It comes down to two but majorly one, really. When I was 9-10ish(I think) I had to choose between piano and dance because I no longer had time for both and I chose dance. After all, at the time it seemed obvious, I had invested more time in it, I was better at it, I was giving exams in it and it seemed the only choice but sometimes, just sometimes and in times of lockdown, I wonder what could have been, where I might be if I should have chosen the other way around, maybe I could have played the piano and been happier now. Ah well, can’t change the past, can we?

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So, let us now get into the second but actually major hobby which requires a bit of a storytime about me. I have been dancing since I was a baby, as my mom would tell you but have trained in some Indian classical form from the ripe age of 3. From when I was 5 to when i was 16, I trained in the classical dance form of  Odissi and have given enough exams to be a trained Odissi dancer, at least on paper.

Most of you are probably wondering what Odissi is at this point so let us take a brief intermission to tell you a little bit about it. Odissi is an Indian classical dance form belonging to the state of Odisha and is the oldest surviving dance form of India and perhaps, one of the oldest in the world. It originated in the temples of ancient India and is considered to be one of the most difficult Indian dance forms due to the grace and technique involved and the subtle balance between masculinity and femininity each dancer has to maintain in every piece. This is not just my opinion, but obviously, I am a bit biased towards believing it.

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Now, getting back to me and Odissi, I’ve learnt it for 10+ years, had 2 teachers, given many exams, participated in some competitions, even won some, given even more performances and have lived and breathed the classical dance life, at least before I moved across the country and was entering 11th grade and could no longer keep up with it. It has been 5 years since then. In those 5 years, Odissi has helped me in little ways like being my unique identifier, how choreographing a little piece that got me into the (western) dance society of my college ensured dance stayed in my life, with my general posture and whatnot, but honestly and a very difficult thing for me to admit is that I’ve mostly lost touch with the dance form.

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One of my very few good dancing photos from the pre-good smartphone camera era

There are some factors to why. I really had to study during the last 2 years of high school and simply didn’t have time to practice. All my music was on primitive memory devices like cassette tapes or at maximum, a CD because that’s what most places where we performed or participated allowed. Thus, I can no longer access it and have lost quite a lot in the move too. I was not on social media when I moved as I was a kid and have lost touch with my dance classmates. Most importantly, I did not choose to prioritise it. Then suddenly, a few months ago I had the jarring realisation that my dancing style had changed from doing western over the last 3 years and I could barely remember any Odissi.

I was sad about it, but also, life was busy. I forgot. I was ready to give it up as one of the things I grew out of but then, this lockdown happened. Now, I was forced to confront how much I had neglected something I loved so much growing up and how much I regretted it. I knew it was time to fix the situation and to once again, bring Odissi back in my life. I tried looking up the music online, it didn’t work very well because there are many different kinds of music and I didn’t find the exact one I learnt on, so there was no chance of triggering some musical memory of mine.

I decided on trying to re-learn what is the most basic and simplest dance piece in Odissi, the Mangalacharan. It is a traditional invocatory item, usually dedicated to one Hindu God and having a Trikhandi Pranam,i.e. three salutations: salutation to god, the teacher or guru and the audience. I saw many videos and saved them and will now be embarking on this journey of trying to re-teach myself something I had been so good at and hoping to trigger some old recesses of my memory where all these pieces went and have hopefully survived the attacks of adulthood. I’ll let you know how it goes. Wish me luck!

THIS POST’S QUESTION: Do you have any lost hobbies you regret? Have you thought about picking them up again? Comment below with what you think about it,I’d love to hear from you!

 

What do I write to you?

Let’s talk about what should we talk about today.

I write to you today about my utter dilemma about what to write about. Good heavens, I am sorry, that’s quite the beginning to the post; just throwing you in the deep end, no easing, no warning, nothing. Please allow me to explain as I walk you through my predicament.

Perhaps, after months of nothing, since I am suddenly showing up here now (I have been somewhat around on my Instagram, so do follow me there if you’d like to not be surprised by my sudden and erratic posting:@musingsofawhimsicalsoul) I should talk about what i was up to in these past few months. Since  I last posted in November, that would be exams in December, a very gruelling college schedule January onwards, a concussion(from a kick in the head, so quite the story), all the pre-internship things and my first ever job interview(with Google!) in February, turning 21 in Corbett National Park on a family vacation in March to finally today, April 1st, my last day of (now, online) classes, which gives me the time to write to you.

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Me with my surprise birthday balloons on March 10, it is so crazy how much things have changed in such little time??

Or maybe, I can’t post anything without addressing the current climate and situation that we all are dealing with. The COVID-19 pandemic, its impact on our lives, the lives we have already lost, the brave souls in essential services fighting to make our lives easier on the frontlines and just how much it infuriates me to see people not taking this seriously. Should I be cautioning you and spreading awareness about flattening the curve? Should I talk numbers and how anxious they make me as we look at the rising numbers every day from the midst of a 21-day lockdown? Should I talk about the fact that even as I say all this, I am feeling so incredibly guilty for how comfortable I am to be in my home with my family and living life with not much of a hindrance? Should I be asking you to think of the less fortunate, the ones who are affected the most? Should I ask you to donate, if you can, to food banks or to government funds, to aid small businesses, to think of the people in your employ or the ones you take rent from?

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The coronavirus curve we need to flatten, found on the CDC website.

Should I acknowledge my privilege in being able to sit down and write all this down for you? Or, should I talk about how scared I am of the uncertainty regarding our future, where the world we would be after this is over? I am scared of the economy I would be inheriting. How, as someone who is supposed to find a job in the upcoming year and has no idea what will happen with my internship the economic ruination this will bring terrifies me. Or perhaps, my hope that we all are kinder and value each other and just appreciate the little things much more?

Simply put, should I be talking about my fears for our present or the future? Or mundane things like how I am going to pass time now that my college is over? Perhaps, I should be distracting you from all this uncertainty and negativity, bring you my regular scheduled(Yes, I see the irony here.) content. Maybe you’ve had enough of all the negativity and just want to escape. So today, after 4 months of nothing, in the middle of a global pandemic, I ask you, What do I write to you?

THIS POST’S QUESTION: This is a unique post,the entire post itself is a question,so please,tell me,What content do you want to see from me? Comment below with what you think about it,I’d love to hear from you!