‘The Covid Positives’ – life lessons learnt from the pandemic
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‘The Covid Positives’ – life lessons learnt from the pandemic

After being host to an online Quiz series on the COVID-19 theme, school parent Phanindra Ivatury wrote an article to reflect on his experiences. The full article is published here*.

Text and pictures by Phanindra Ivatury, school parent

After a long drawn battle with the biggest catastrophe in our living memory, global humanity is finally getting to see some quintessential ray of light at the end of the treacherous tunnel in the form of COVID-19 vaccines, currently being rolled out to all parts of the globe.  A ‘COVID-19 free world’ is still some distance away as we continue our march there, slowly but surely.

The year 2020 was all about suffering, surviving and sustaining.  More importantly, it was all about ‘learning’, from the crisis we were forced into, the changes we had to adapt to and the social, medical and economic modifications we had to adjust to.  There were many ‘firsts’ we had to witness and go through, some of which were not exactly pleasant.

After being host to an online ‘Quiz series on the COVID-19 theme’ which is a yearlong now, there is a sense of realization that I have become more and more reflective towards life during the pandemic times, often wondering whether everyone else around me were also experiencing it at some degree.  Are there any mental ‘take-aways’ from the pandemic?, is there a desperate need to learn from it?, did anything change in our priorities or got added to our life goals and ambitions post 2020?  Questions kept mushrooming my mind.

Global community of quiz participants

I realized that the best way forward was to open a dialogue box with my global community of quiz participants by asking them a simple question, the answer to which, I am sure, was not so simple for them to instantly come up with. I asked each of them “What was the biggest lesson COVID-19 taught you?”

To attain a wide variety of perspectives from every corner of the world, based on social, geographical and economic conditions people were accustomed to in their part of the world, I chose to pick participants from as many countries as possible for this survey. Many of my quiz participants, friends and followers from Malaysia, India, The Netherlands, New Zealand, US, Singapore, Lebanon, Germany and Mexico took part in this survey and each of them came up with their own analogy of life perspectives during COVID-19 times. There were even some students at the ISUtrecht who took part in my survey.

Major findings from this survey

Harmonious co-existence between humans and habitat

Many participants felt that there was an immediate urgency for humanity to establish a ‘mutual connect of co-existence’ with habitat.  Love, care, compassion and affection towards nature and animals is not just the dire need of the hour.  It should be an ongoing process which should become the prime focal point of any government’s social plans or welfare measures.  Many felt that humans should stop living with the false feeling that they are superior to animals.  A good amount of wisdom and logic must have gone into framing the term ‘mother earth’ by our earlier generations from times immemorial.  The more we dig into forests, the more we encroach on habitats, the more we invite catastrophes like Covid-19. We learnt it through the hardest experience possible, a lesson which came at the cost of many lives and living. 

Basic Health is the biggest wealth

Covid-19 times opened up many human insecurities and needs – loss of livelihoods, living in quarantine, longing to travel, eat out and shop but the biggest of the insecurities was all about the sudden new found scare associated with potential, life threatening and dangerous lifestyle diseases like diabetes, heart disease and obesity to name a few. The pandemic has painfully show cased that people with underlying health conditions, proved to be more vulnerable in succumbing to the virus.   ‘Self-esteems’ of many have taken a brutal beating after testing positive during pandemic times.  Many surveyed participants urged on the importance to ‘build’ and ‘strengthen’, not just on their economic front, but to nicely balance it out through healthy life style choices.  Health care became vital after the covid-19 scare.

Not taking near and dear ones for granted

Covid-19 turned the world upside down in every possible way.  After the initial panic pangs set in, at the advent of the outbreak, global humanity quickly lifted itself up and learnt admirably to adapt and adjust to the adversity at large.  Participants of the survey felt that a new routine kicked in through pandemic times, life’s mega pace underwent a paradigm shift with some of them suddenly re-discovering long forgotten domestic pleasures like long walks, little hugs and the pleasures of cooking, instead of reaching out to a packed meal box.  But many felt that the most important positive take away for them was to adapt to changes and be always equipped to fight challenges life throws at you which they felt was only possible by not taking near and dear ones for granted.

‘Life is what happens when you are busy making plans’

‘Ambition’ is a big word but many surveyed participants now opined that the word ‘unpredictable’ is also quite big.  Some of the most repeated lines participants came up with throughout this survey were;

  • ‘Take life as it comes’
  • ‘Don’t be overly ambitious’
  •  ‘Don’t plan too far ahead in life, try and have short term goals’
  • ‘Be nice to people around you’

‘Minimalism’ and spending sensibly

All of us, at some point of time in our lives, have heard religious sayings and ethical preaching on holding back and letting, if not many but a few material needs or cravings go.  The pandemic times opened arms for each of us to put some of these words of wisdom to practice.  Many participants mentioned that they started to enjoy nature from their backyards and streets more than checking into an expensive skiing resort or hill station elsewhere in the world.  Many of them explored the joys of cooking at home, not just the regular food but also try their hand at making fancy foods we are used to eating at fancy restaurants for an equally fancy price.  Necessity became the godmother of invention here. Gone were the expensive event celebration parties we hosted for friends and well-wishers with a lot of paraphernalia, parties which used to get forgotten by guests, the day after.  Personal finances were understood better and spending took a more sensible and sustainable path.  More importantly, participants felt that they understood the thin line of difference between fruitful and frivolous spending.

There is no such thing called the ‘old normal’

Some of the young participants from the survey felt that ‘life plans may change and a greater need to respect and adapt to the new changes is one of the biggest lessons learnt through the pandemic’.  Life may never be the same, even post Coved-19 times and a return to the ‘old normal’ which many talk about may never happen.  Instead, the sooner humanity builds strength and resilience to embrace the ‘new normal’, the happier life gets.  Some young participants also felt that ‘hope’ is a big word which assumes an altogether different meaning for them after this crisis.  Life experienced by most youngsters these days is often confined to laptops, online studying, ‘zoom’ meets and mobile phones.  Some of them opined that the need to go out, express ourselves, physical bonding and valuing human contact need to be respected.

*The article was first published on by Bernana, the National News Agency of Malaysia .

More about Phanindra Ivatury

Phanindra Ivatury started his quizzing journey in 2002.  He finds quizzing very interesting, engaging and considers it an impactful way of disseminating knowledge, by raising curiosity through a question asked. Until recently, Phanindra was a Public Sector Auditor by profession and an International Quiz Master by passion.  After opting for a voluntary retirement with the Government of India in 2019, he turned into a full time professional in quizzing. Alongside writing and hosting quizzing events, he now contributes articles in the media, writes quiz columns for journals or in-house magazines of organizations, deliver corporate lectures as a motivational speaker on topics like motivation, communication, leadership and team work.

Phanindra hosts quizzing events for social groups, corporates, academic institutions, banks, government organizations, cultural centers to name a few. His quizzing is usually theme based (like for example the current ‘Covid times’ theme). In his quizzes, all the questions asked are my own researched creations and are not borrowed from any quizzing sites or from the works of other quiz masters.