Classes, endless cups of coffee, canteen banter, notes exchange, cafe meet-ups and occasional parties once defined the bitter-sweet pre-quarantine life for youngsters. But, the lockdown period has changed things in unfathomable ways. For starters, dates have become virtual, teachers are seen behind phone screens, and movie nights are all about screen-sharing now. To top it off, there is a slight tinge of nostalgia and regret, too. Regret at having cancelled so many plans, when there was still a chance to head out.
Riya Bose, a final year Delhi University student — who had decided to spend her last days in college with her friends, exploring the city, clicking pictures and making new memories — feels the pang. “All of that was before the government announced the lockdown. I never thought my mid-semester break would never come to an end,” she says. Marina (name changed), a master’s student from Jamia Millia Islamia, agrees. “It almost feels like we live in an alternate universe, wherein staying away from our loved ones is an act of love now.”
Lectures, wherein if you entered 15 minutes late you would have risked losing your attendance, now begin half an hour earlier just so the call can happen on time, and the class is free from any distractions. “Now, we do not have to mark our attendance by shouting ‘present’. Instead, when the clock strikes 8.30 am, we show our face on the video call,” says Danish Khan, an IIT, Varanasi student.
“Even though online classes seem to be keeping the education system going, most people are having a hard time,” says Bose, explaining that the professors are not used to it and even students are struggling to keep their interest.
Students no longer resort to scribbling notes in their notebooks. Their course material now encompasses PDFs scanned with teacher’s notes and voice notes from professors sent on the class group. You no longer have to go to the library to issue paperback books because now most of the study material is replaced by e-books.
“I am procrastinating a lot. Despite having so much time, I am not able to finish my assignments. The other day, I told my teacher that my laptop’s battery has some defect. Had the lecture been taken in person, I would have simply skipped it,” says Aditya Peer, a master’s student at Leeds University in London.
Marie Kondo has become the hero of the young, with her decluttering videos redefining ‘staying-at-home’ and staying productive for many. “I have been keeping myself busy by washing utensils, and thank god for Netflix!” says Garima Bablani, a master’s student at Monash University in Australia.
The exasperation and the peer pressure of having to make quarantine days look highly productive is another story. “Despite my eight-hour work shift, I felt I was not as productive as a friend, who told me how an app helped her to get her workout routine on track,” Bhavika Chawla, who works with with the Ministry of Electronics and IT, says.
“Interactions with my friends and family, and using the internet to my advantage is keeping me occupied. My state of mind keeps fluctuating, some days I feel productive, and some days I feel anxious,” Paridhi Bhanot, a masters student at XIC, Mumbai, shares.
If one scrolls through Instagram, one can see people are getting back to painting. While, there are those who are trying to initiate profound conversations on how we as humans are insignificant. Others are flaunting their virtual Zumba classes.
Goodbye, street food
Restaurants, which once found a place on the bucket list, have been replaced by viral baking and food trends on social media (cough-cough…Dalgona coffee…ahem). To think of it, the idea of cooking is not so dreadful anymore, but something to look forward to.
“I was craving mumma’s dal and I video-called her, and started chopping onions on the side while listening to her usual banter of how the salt is not enough. It was a relief and surely a way to unwind,” Sarah Abadi, a master’s student at LSE, says.
From Alia Bhatt to Kriti Sanon and Mira Kapoor, everyone is showcasing their baking skills. No-oven recipes are going viral and people are finally finding joy in culinary activities. Then we have first bakers like Ishan Singh, a writer who mentions “ I love cake! My dream has always been to eat fresh cake. I bought an oven and some cake mix, every time I was about to bake. I’d succumb to laziness and end up ordering in. Now, I’m forced to bake now and it’s worth it.”
Making memories through screens
Isn’t home our favourite place to be? Didn’t we all wish to get back home after a long tiring day? Didn’t the idea of sitting on a couch and watching a horror movie entice us? For Shubhi, an outstation student residing in Delhi, it’s an opportunity to reconnect with her family. “Earlier, I was dreading the idea since they weren’t accustomed to my routine. But now, we watch movies and play games. We’re all trying to keep sane.”
While for some, it is a time to reconnect and bond with family, for others, maintaining contact with friends is also important. Yash Rathore, a final year student at MNNIT says, “I miss my pals so much. We have all downloaded this app called ‘Netflix Rave’ wherein we list down movies and watch it together.”
Uday Singh (name changed), final year student, mentions how an app called Discord allows him and his friends to listen to the same songs at once. “Whenever I come across a new song and want my friends to listen to it, I put the song on the app and all of us are listening and chilling.”
What about couples who are apart? They have found a way to celebrate love, too. “My boyfriend and I have decided on 10 pm as our video call time. We sit down with our dinner and tell each other how we spent our day,” says Nimisha Nair, a certified dive instructor.
For those who can no longer go to clubs for an impromptu date, dating apps like Tinder have introduced the ‘passport feature’.This feature allows you to set your location in any corner of the world and brings forth a swipe surge from the very area. For example, if you are in Delhi and you set your location to Melbourne, Australia, you end up with a bunch of matches from that place. “Why not have a little fun with a date from a different continent?” says Raghav Dhir, a second-year student at the Symbiosis University, Pune.
“Life at this point is tough but at least we have our loved ones, even if we are only able to see them through phone screens,” Sharmishta Das, a master’s student at the Delhi University, says.
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