My India is learning how to communicate in the New Normal

When 2019 turned into 2020, no one knew what was in store. Never would have one imagined an entire country going into lockdown. In fact, in yesteryears, had I told you that many countries would go into lockdown simultaneously, you would have probably laughed. March 16, 2020 was the last day that I remember as a regular day in Mumbai. That was the day our club closed down. I had just finished a game of badminton with my buddies and grumbled about how the COVID19 scare was just a silly ploy. Little did I know that everyone around me, including my family and me, was in for a complete overhaul of our lives.

Five months down the road, here we all are in what they call the ‘New Normal”. Step out on the road and you will see everyone donning masks and going about their business. We are all learning to communicate in this New Normal.

 

Yes, My India has changed and COVID19 has pushed us to learn the ropes of communicating in the New Normal. I can picture myself telling my grandkids about the yesteryears – ‘when COVID19 struck’.

2

Indians are getting use to: hurried hellos and quick goodbyes

Picture this: You are donning a mask and walking down the road. You spot a friend from afar. The dress and typical gait are a giveaway. You smile and wave out. While you are debating on whether to open your arms to hug her or extend your hand for a handshake. Maybe she will laugh if you will join hands into a ‘namaste’. While you are fighting your thoughts, your friend waves back and hurriedly walks past you, while muttering something like, “Hey, how are you? All well. Stay safe….” You stop in your tracks, wondering what just happened. She later pings you on FB messenger apologizing as she was in a ‘hurry’.

8

Chit-chatting, offline, is a thing of the past

Picture this: You use your COVID Key to press the buttons of the elevator. When you are sanitizing your hands at the gate, you meet your neighbour. Dressed in a lovely sari and beautiful accessories, it seems as if she is going for a party. You smile from behind the mask and compliment her. Her smile travels under her mask and reaches her eyes. You can make out the joy in her voice as she says something about going for a family event. Her voice trails off as if something was stopping her from sharing any further. Her husband enters the scene, taps her lightly on the shoulder and she walks off. It leaves you hanging without your juicy gossip update of the day. After a while, she pings you on WhatsApp and gives you an entire download of gossip.

3

We are learning how to meet an acquaintance

Picture this: You just finished sanitizing your hands at the store and bend down to pick up the bag of groceries. Someone you know steps into the store. At first they look away. When your eyes finally meet, you both awkwardly stare into each other’s eyes. That’s when you realise that in the past, you met acquaintances with a wry smile, a brief hello and then left. Staring into each other’s eyes is the most awkward way to meet someone you hardly know. You wonder whether to wave or just lift your hand to say ‘Hi’. But then waving is not really what Indians do when they meet an acquaintance – do they? How does one know if the smile reached the person from behind the mask?

4

We are learning to communicate with the eyes

Picture this: The chemist is standing at an arm’s length and you need to tell him you need a sanitary pad. You haven’t carried a list and when you try removing the mask to speak, everyone stares at you as if they have seen a ghost. You hurriedly put on your mask and widen your eyes, you dart them towards the sanitary pads and point at them while one hand is covering the other. You see, a twinkle in the chemist’s eyes, as if he finally understood what you said. He hands over a pack of condoms just beside the sanitary pads!! You whisper irately, “Bhaiya, ye nahi, woh chahiye.” He seems to be enjoying this charade and asks, “Oh sorry! Kaunsa, XL ya double XL? Whisper ya Stayfree?” 

5

Learning to communicate using chat & video apps

Picture this: You were just getting a hang of WhatsApp when your friend asks you to join a group on Telegram. Your uncle sends you songs on FB messenger and expects you to reply. There is a chat feature in Google Meetings and Zoom calls where people regularly leave messages. To top this, there are unread messages on your Instagram inbox, Twitter DM, LinkedIn message and Snapchat. To add to this, during lockdown you had nothing to do so have been posting status messages, posts and stories on various platforms. Now posting has become a habit. You get comments on all those posts and if you don’t acknowledge it, you run the danger of offending your ‘friend’ or ‘contact’.  You are suddenly part of many WhatsApp groups and other groups on other social media platforms. You actually start keeping a diary to keep pace with whom to reply to on which platform. Its like a crazy vortex of information out of which 90% of messages are meaningless forwards.

6

I miss the carefree days when I used to hug my friends and sometimes peck them on the cheek. When we shared food from the same plate, gossiped till there was no tomorrow and stuck to each other while clicking selfies. I want my sporting days back when I played throw ball till my fingers hurt, practiced cricket till my shoulders and knees hurt and practiced running till I went sore. I miss conversations around sports, food and movies. The online world is no fun. Nothing can replace the physical presence of a friend or relative. I miss the days when we danced at baraats and sangeets with our favourite relatives. Virtual zoom sangeets are no fun. 

7

The New Normal is here to stay. Even after COVID19, people will shy away from meeting at public places. In such a scenario, extroverts and ambiverts like me will have to look for ways to satiate the need to reach out to another human being. Yes, we will have to learn to communicate and make meaningful relationships despite the New Normal and the dangers it brings.

How has the New Normal been for you? What are the new things that India is learning in the ‘New Normal’?

Share your thoughts in the comment section.

Penned by:

Mayura Amarkant

Copyright

©MayuraAmarkant. This article is the property of DiaryOfAnInsaneWriter. Any unauthorized use or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Mayura Amarkant (DiaryOfAnInsaneWriter). With the right and specific direction to the original content.

This is not a sponsored post. I have written this blog post for SpeakEasy Blogging Challenge 2.0 hosted by Ruchi and Dipika.

 

62 comments

  1. Since we are into online marketing, so quite familiar with online stuffs but this new normal things are really making people more aware of the importance of online communication. Digital media is going to play a big part here.

  2. Though I am enjoying the lockdown till now, I still prefer meeting friends physically, attending parties physically and just going to visit places in reality. Lets pray all goes well and this virtual world remains a thing of the past or just a small part of our lives.

    1. Also the shutdown of schools and educational institutions, although laudable as effective infection prevention and control measures, has also been heralded as an opportunity for distance and online learning across the US, UK and Australia. Hence the New normal is beneficial also.

  3. loved going through it.. yes, social interactions have changed but hope that it doesnt remain like this. hugging your friends, holding hands smiling when you see an acquaintance, miss all of that.

  4. COVID has really taught us to re-invent in many ways and it has also taught us to re-invent quickly. I really never thought about the changes ways we communicate till I read your post. Great read

  5. We may call it the new normal but this isn’t normal. Like you said, I miss the times when we could get physically close with friends and share food without worrying about an infection. We’ve learnt new ways of communicating but I truly hope this doesn’t become a way of life.

  6. This is so true and so relatable, specially the part where you mentioned how people communicate nowadays with eyes. Everyone has embraced this new normal in their own way.

  7. We’re living in such unprecedented times – it’s hard to make head or tail of what’s going on around us. Communicating through eyes struck a certain chord with me – masked faces seem to be here to stay!

  8. Hey Mayura, super ya. I too have mastered greeting people with namaste, communicating via eyes, and keeping distance. Also, making plans to create an awesome story to tell the next generation what we all went through!

  9. This is a great topic. I like the way you have put it up. Indeed offline meets have been replaced by online video chats and webinars and conferences. This in a way is a new will help communication for distant but close relationships.

  10. Wow Mayura… reading this article was like looking into the mirror… i was continuously ticking points mentioned as ensuring i have been adhering to them all… after all new normal is the way to life for ties to come

  11. Ya I have faced these situations myself a few times in the past week. I used to hug and greet every friend of mine but now there is hesitation. The good thing is everyone understands and is trying to learn how to be safe and cope up with things.

  12. Time is actually changed and we all have accepted the new normal, it’s really important and happy to have you in this challenge

  13. Yes the COVID has changed so much of our lifestyle and yes we have learned to adjust with now by taking all the safety steps..

  14. This is so true. We have to learn to communicate in this new normal and make maintain relationships – online and offline. But I do miss meeting my friends and chilling with them.

  15. That is really an interesting way to communicate the new normal way. Definitely a great adaptation for the present times.

  16. Resonated with this article on so many points. I could relate to each pointer so closely as if you’re talking about me. This is the new normal and we have to accept it either we like it or not.

  17. This article is really valid in today’s time. I cannot believe when someone mentioned, press conference will be held online. And trust me most journalists were present attending the conference. I miss the warmth of the bygone days.

  18. Resonated with this article on so many levels! Things appear new when it begins, then it becomes a new normal. We’ve gone away from the regular idea of communicating and have made our ways with chats and video calling apps. But the question is, till when! I really hope that the previous normal comes back, in terms of communicating with loved ones.

  19. COVID has changed human interaction and online conversations are the rage now. But i still miss meeting people and shaking hands 🙁

  20. Necessity is the mother of invention, and that can be seen in how we are all adapting to the changed scenario in various aspects. Communication is of course one of the areas immediately impacted. The emphasis is more and more on digital and online communications. Social interaction as we knew it is gone, at least for now.

  21. The new normal is definitely staying here for long and these way are perfect point on.. The communicating through eyes are my fav. Loved the way you have written

  22. I loved reading your post, could relate to each and every situation. But yes we are learning to communicate in the new normal, we are learning to smile from behind the mask and we are learning to express through our eyes.

  23. 2020 is a year everyone would want to blacklist… but this year has also taught us to change and accept new things. Technology has been a major support to stay afloat, be it online school, shopping or video calls with family and friends.

  24. I agree with your post. This is the new normal and we all have incorporated this in our life. Even our children have accepted the fact that online schooling is the way ahead.

  25. The new normal is definitely being difficult keeping our extended families and friends away. We have even lost some relatives to the pandemic. Still trying to figure out how to make things normal for our kids as the video chats and voice messages do not satisfy their needs to meet their friends and have a social life.

  26. I would say thanks to the technology because we are still connected with our family and friends. Everything happen for a reason.

  27. Very well said India is learning New Normal life but still some people not understand the worth of this

  28. I really loved the way you started writing your post. The new normal is here to stay, it’s a matter of time when we will get used to this new way of staying in touch

  29. That’s such a well written blogpost, we have seen and experienced all the things mentioned here!

  30. I think it’s still very difficult for a lot of people to understand that how important this NEW NORMAL is!

  31. In this new normal I have attended the wedding of an immediate cousin, we all wore masks. None hugged each other, hardly 30 people were there including cooks, priests and coordinators. It was no fun. No pre-wedding rituals, no family photoshoot. Food was served as the next godly thing, kids were forced to stay in a seat or a circle drawn around their seat. Next 3 weddings happened on zoom. Rest 2 postponed for an indefinite time. So, yeah that the new normal.

    Did I mentioned, I loved your witty words slicing the current situation?

  32. you’ve summarized the new normal so aptly in your post. we all have emerged into a new world of waves and video calling it almost seems impossible to think that 6 months has changed so much in all of us.
    Fingers crossed for the rest.

  33. Happy or not but that is the reality of the current time. This pandemic has tons of lessons in store for us. I sometimes feel we are all students again and life is giving us new tests all over again.

  34. I agree that this pandemic has changed a lot and now we all are in quite adjusting mode with this “new normal”. I m just amazed by your keen observation and loved all narrations.. specially the chemist one..after reading that part I had laughed through out the post. And yes..after this pandemic, posting on different SM platforms religiously has become a part of life.

  35. You have shared today’s scenario so well. I was dwelling on this a few days back that how things have changed, hoping the earlier days are back soon.

  36. New normal has given us new ways of staying in touch with each other. I would say thanks to the technology that we are able to see our friends over zoom calls. It has made many technology non- savvy people good at using apps.

  37. So true and apt post, India certainly is learning to accept this new normal and communicate with all precautions too. Be it face to face, or messenger, or video calls we are truly learning to communicate with eyes and written words.

  38. I remember one of my family friends got married this year during the COVID lockdown and we attended his marriage functions through Zoom.. We were at home, dressed in all homely outfits. There was a no feeling of enjoyment, excitement or any such which was used to be there in physical presence.

    I afraid if this continues even after this 2020.. Seriously I will not attend any Zoom Marriage..! 😀

    1. Lovely post. It was all new in march. But now, the old new normal seems to be different one.

      video calls and chats has taken on the physical meets. Going out just because we are bored at home is out of question.

      And we are glad that we still have food and shelter. Only thing worried is the poor. 👌🏼🙏🏼

  39. Wow… So this is our new normal whether we like it or not. I could relate to each pointer so closely as if you’re talking about me. The earlier we learn and accept , better it is for us.

  40. Completely agree with you. Your post was humorous, witty, true, wonderful. The best thing was that your honest thoughts penned down in the most catchy way was a great read and was also very thoughtful.

  41. I so agree, this is the new normal and everyone has embraced it in their own ways. many of us were not happy but not people have accepted and implemented these 🙂

Leave a Reply