After COVID, During COVID, Before COVID: Varun Khanna

We were running too fast, this was nature's way of saying, slow down, relax and smell the roses writes Varun Khanna, Co- Founder, Fast&Up.


In these grim times, I got good news yesterday. One of our employees who was in an accident a few months ago and was in a coma, finally had woken up. While I was really happy with the news, I was also thinking, how is anyone going to explain to him what world has he woken up into! Being a biotechnologist, everyday for the past 3 months I have been tracking COVID. I was always good at immunology and Virology in my university days, maybe because I actually found them to be the most fascinating. SARS-COV2 the infamous close relative of SARS has changed the world as we know it. From making plans, months at a time we are now at planning by the hour and the days let alone even weeks. Everyday you wake up thinking about all possible you met in the last 2 weeks and hoping that no one you met had travelled abroad. You keep checking with all your colleagues how they are doing and hoping they are all safe!

Mumbai started its lockdown a few days before India. Today I completed my 12 days of self-isolation having gone out only once, to buy some vegetables. Every cough and sneeze feels illegal and if you hear it in your house there is a sudden pause (even if it was trying to get the warm water you have been drinking out of the wrong pipe). News channels are showing 76% increase in their viewership and time spent on their apps. Newspapers are being circulated on WhatsApp and are actually full of news and not the front-page adverts. Zoom call has overtaken Whatsapp and Tiktok as the most downloaded app on androids. Companies that never knew work could happen through VC’s at home are now getting accustomed to managing rather than doing. My wife was actually joking that we should throw all my clothes since I have been wearing only like 5 pairs of shorts and tees.

This was the first 31st March in years, we didn’t discuss, introspect on the “sales” of the previous year. For the first time we had a call with our senior sales team and discussed general things and instead of asking for sales, asked about their health. If anyone would have shown me a crystal ball and said this is what your march 31st 2020 is going to look like, I would have said ‘yeah right’. While I cannot predict what's going to happen over the next few weeks, I can sort of anticipate what will happen over the next few months for sure. The world will change. Things like these don’t just happen and the world moves on, the world changes. Be it a 9/11 or a 26/11 , every time you go through a security in a mall the reminder remains that something like this happened. Everytime it rains heavily in Mumbai, frantic parents will start calling their kids to come home. The world will change, it's imminent, but what isn’t set in stone is how - that option is on us.

These 21 days are probably going to be the most landmark days of our lives. We have suddenly realized the importance of a “normal” day. A not bad day is actually a good day. We have realized that there is so much we don’t need and the things we need don’t actually cost. The center stage will have to be health and immunity. We have the opportunity to take this as a wake-up call as a nation and move from being the leader in lifestyle disease to a leader in a good healthy lifestyle. These 21 days will make us realise how health, friends, family and certainty are the only things that people yearn.

Mumbaikars also had a rare opportunity to hear birds sing, enjoy clear skies and pleasant temperatures. We have always been blessed with this (without the clear skies) but we actually never stood still to enjoy it, we never gave it priority, it was always muzzled by the horns and chatter. For all those (and I am sure and hoping most of us) who will be out and about after the lockdown, we should take and carry forward all the learnings of the 21 days and actually make sure that we don’t forget what we have learnt. While the governments around the world will work on ‘changes' which will reduce risk of resurgence of this again, we should also take some resolutions and make sure that those changes are also self-imposed on ourselves even when there is low threat. We were running too fast, this was nature's way of saying, slow down, relax and smell the roses, literally

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