BY MID-MARCH last year, prior to the lockdown, I had returned to India after touring England. But since the UK had a few cases at that juncture, I decided to go into self-isolation on my return even before the lockdown was announced. A week into my isolation, the nationwide lockdown was declared by the Government. Luckily, I could isolate and stay away from my family during that period since we had already built a farmhouse. Little did I know that I would be putting up in that very farmhouse for the next six months.
As a sportsperson who has been travelling since 1989-1990, I always cherished some downtime. This is where the quarantine helped enormously. During the lockdown, all I wanted to do was study, meditate and be with nature—in essence, all of the things I could do if I wasn’t on the move.
Throughout the quarantine period, I never had access to badminton courts since they were the last to open up. It was, however, a pleasant feeling that I could interact with the players during the lockdown, albeit virtually. Just about 10 days into the lockdown, I was able to interact with the players online. We engaged with them over seminars and Zoom sessions. This proved helpful during the pandemic and kept me abreast with their training sessions. It allowed me to learn more and more things.
I now feel that we will get back to the pre-Covid times or normalcy, especially in India, faster than the rest of the world. If you go to many places today, you will see that people have forgotten that Covid exists. But the virus is real, and Covid-appropriate behaviour is mandatory. I do, however, agree that the poor don’t have the luxury of staying at home.
In terms of what I see as far as coaching is concerned, the senior athletes have fared a lot better during the pandemic. With the junior athletes, each time you utter ‘social distancing’, it becomes a challenge. So, we’ve had our challenges of enforcing such discipline as far as some players are concerned. But I’m happy that at least the senior players have been very responsible and careful during the lockdown.
In the new normal, we have probably become more sensitive. That said, I do feel the need to stay indoors and avoid public gatherings. Footfalls in malls and theatres have come down considerably. Even big parties are now passé. Given the situation, we need to be careful about getting back to the old normal. I feel it is important for people to take one step at a time. And if they make themselves physically and mentally strong, they will come out of this better.
People who have the luxury of staying indoors are the ones whose livelihoods are not affected. For them, the lockdown has been a lot easier than for people who are daily wagers or those who have economic struggles or even those whose jobs have been compromised because of Covid. For me, the quarantine was all about keeping it simple. It was important as well to make some savings since we don’t know what lies in store. After all, nobody in March 2020 would have expected the year to have gone by the way it did!