Day 97: Few changes

Ajangaon. June 2020


Day 97

Writing these daily updates has been slow and lagged behind in the past two weeks. When days begin to get filled with outdoors writing takes a hit. The tradeoffs are clear. Lockdown days helped in observing reading and writing beahviour closely. As of now, both of them stand severely affected because the lockdown has been lifted which means outdoor activities are permitted. There are curfew-like hours and limited business hours to be followed in the town. But that has not limited residents from going about what they need to do during the day. Government offices, public transport and general services continue to be limited. Meanwhile, in Bangalore I hear that the city’s infections are rising and the healthcare system is stretched. 

Cycling has emerged as the only form of workout and leisure activity now. With such gorgeous trails around the farm, it is difficult to not explore them. Besides, cycling helps in keeping the cardio workout effort unaffected even as every other aspect of living has been changing. 

Soon, the lockdown diary will reach hundred days of posting. India has moved from waking up to the threat of the pandemic to imposing a strict nation-wide lockdown and now to unlocking phases. Some cities continue to use brief spells of lockdown based on the infection situation.By now it is clear that Covid-19 will continue to spread until a vaccine is developed. This will be a long haul. Businesses and governments have begun adjusting to ‘living with the virus’. Personally too, it makes sense to prepare for a longer phase of lockdowns, economic slowdown, disrupted travel and personal lives. More importantly, a frequent check on jobs and income outlook is necessary now that most of the businesses across the world are surviving on government doles. 

With this situation, I am also thinking of how and when to put a stop to these lockdown posts. One alternative is to reduce the frequency and summarize observations in weekly posts. The other is to draw it to a close and continue logging daily experiences and observations as usual. Either way, I am interested in noting down this extraordinary period in our history along with its effects and consequences. 

In a subtle way, the pandemic has influenced decision-making for me. It is quicker and tends to not consider anything as given or permanent. The looming uncertainty about life and material conditions casts a shadow on decisions now. It didn’t take long to decide on exiting from the education company which I was a part of until this month. Lockdown made it easier to decide on quitting. Instead of reasoning and discussing divergent views with people there, it seemed preferable to seek spaces that align with my interests. Do discuss endlessly and go back to doing the same thing that was being done before the discussion began, seems to be a pointless thing. 

I read Marc Andreessen’s essay Its Time to Build. It made a buzz around tech circles especially because of the hopeful and a clarion-ish call that he makes to build things and suggesting that – 

We could have these things but we chose not to — specifically we chose not to have the mechanisms, the factories, the systems to make these things. We chose not to *build*.

He is concerned about the state of affairs in the US. It seems true of the general trend of making a conscious choice to ignore and not ensure that economies build enough of the basic necessities. The pandemic has brought this point home very well with the way countries have clamoured to buy protective gear and masks. Desire, inertia, will, are some of the words Andreessen uses to articulate the reasons for why building things has fallen off the agenda – 

The problem is desire. We need to *want* these things. The problem is inertia. We need to want these things more than we want to prevent these things. The problem is regulatory capture. We need to want new companies to build these things, even if incumbents don’t like it, even if only to force the incumbents to build these things. And the problem is will. We need to build these things.

I share the exasperation in this part of the world. In personal life it is manifesting in the form of me checking out of work and jobs that no longer seem to be imaginative enough, constructive enough to be relevant to these times in ways that I’d like them to be. The pandemic has brought in a sense of urgency and re-evaluation of priorities.

2 thoughts on “Day 97: Few changes

  1. We are impatient creatures (speaking of humans in general) unable to imagine ourselves in the midst of such an uncertain time. I’m glad you are taking advantage of this intersection of circumstances to take stock and think about where you want to direct your energy. I just hope that some of our business and political leaders also recognize that this a time to consider how to adapt moving forward. Judging by our provincial government here, I’m not too optimistic.

    1. The pandemic continues to unfold. As I write this, India’s deaths are 30k +. By now, most governments seem to be getting on with their agenda and political life, I guess. Our optimism needs a different source now.

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