What word can sum up this year? Incredulity? Shock? Despair? This is a year that took everyone by surprise. The fortune tellers and soothsayers were left grasping at straws, and gasping for breath, as the best laid plans went to bust.
This year started on a normal note, with the standard New Year Resolutions, planned itineraries, and choc-a-bloc calendars. As February rolled in, there were murmurs about the new virus, and the havoc it was causing in faraway China provinces. Like a tsunami that catches the beach goer unawares, the Covid-19 pandemic has shaken up the world. The last few months have been a surreal haze of never ending lockdowns, quarantining at home, and the mirage of a vaccine. The rhythm of life as we knew it has been upended, and there is the annoying hashtag of the #newnormal in how we continue to live, interact, socialise [or not], and how we traverse everyday tasks. It has not been an easy time for anyone. Having four family members who are doctors, my year has been fraught with fearing for their health and wellbeing as they save lives, and deal with exposure. I have had to undergo multiple Covid tests in the last few months, with possible exposure to peers who have tested positive, as life limps back to some semblance of normalcy.
We have begun our ateliers to support the artisans who form the backbone of our brand. Pre-production on films has begun — life is resilient. The fork we stand at leads us to make a choice — how do we reflect on this year, and how do we come to terms with what it has challenged us with. Call me old-fashioned, but I believe that it is wisest to focus on factors that are within one’s control. This year has taught me so much. It has taught me not to try to control everything around me, to let go, to adapt, and to go with the flow. It has helped me reorganise my priorities and focus on what is really important, doing work you feel happy doing, spending time with those that matter the most to you, rekindling old friendships, and most importantly, the joy and peace of occasionally doing nothing.
2020 has brought a huge blessing into our lives — our baby daughter, Aarohi. The process of parenthood has been a pleasure, and a privilege. The slower pace of life has allowed me to spend time with her in the first few months, and support my wife better as we adjust to our new roles. It has allowed me to gaze in wonder at the new life in our arms, and made me better appreciate the role that I can play in ensuring a better environment for her to grow up in. It has brought home the issues of climate change, gender equality, the spirit of democracy, and steeled my resolve to take measures to make the world a better place to raise this child. The #newnormal has challenged me to up my creativity, and figure out newer ways to design around the SOPs in place for films and costume design. I am working a lot with virtual reality, and innovating with newer ways to design costumes without having to engage physically with the actors on my upcoming films.
Efficient Zoom calls have replaced laborious cross-country meetings. Families are eating together and spending time together. We have all learnt to appreciate what is closest to us, rather than seek the utopia of faraway lands, and addictive Instagram travel goals. Leisurely time to declutter our lives, our phones, and our closets has helped reprioritise our goals, and redefine our needs. I began by saying, we must embrace what we cannot change. 2020, you have been a great teacher. I am grateful for the humbling life lessons you have taught us, but also for the opportunity you have presented to reinvent our point of view, our assumptions, and ourselves; to spearhead change that we seek in all areas of our lives and our thoughts.
To assume that things will go back to how they were with a flip of the calendar year would be delusional and myopic. The whole concept of time has become relative now. The real tragedy would be if we go back to the pre-pandemic life without being better people and better custodians of this planet the moment the vaccine arrives. This is a moment in time when we can’t lose hope or allow despair to envelope us; we must strive forward with resilience, humility and optimism. Oh, and wear the damned mask.