When the pandemic kicked in, all of us kind of grieved for the life that used to be pre-2020 and the little things that it came with—aimlessly hanging out with friends, going out to eat, walking through the city without worrying about having left the mask at home, squishing people we loved, going to school/college/work, and other things that once seemed banal.
But even though the year has been weird, tough or a downright disaster for some—having lived through the pandemic but even the forest fires, floods, storms, blasts and in some countries, the threat of being arrested and thrust in the national spotlight simply for smoking weed—2020 might not have been all bad for many.
At least that’s what a trending Reddit thread says—with people writing in the best bits that this year has given them. From their bosses finally realising that their dumb meetings could’ve been emails all along to being there to rub their dog’s belly 24/7 to finally getting some personal space even in public—the year has made sure some things will never be the same again.
So we went around asking people what they feel about the year that’s ending soon, and whether there’s anything about the pandemic life they’ll miss—that is, assuming it’ll be over some day in 2021.
Sreya, 17, Student
VICE: Hey Sreya, many would be happy to see this bizarre year end soon but is there anything you’d actually miss about it?
Sreya: Well, no matter how much I complain about the troubles we’ve faced due to the pandemic, I know deep down that we needed this time. We needed time to slow down, to stop rushing, to spend time at home, to stay away from all the competition outside. There is no end to the list of things that I’ll miss once the pandemic is over—taking up new hobbies like baking, dancing, singing, interning online, cooking, a million attempts at trying to work out. The geographical distance did separate most of us but we formed new connections like never before through endless group video calls. And once this is over, it’ll be hard for us to find such time for ourselves. And yes, online classes. It's definitely going to be a major missing since I’ve become so used to dozing off while the class is going on with no one noticing!
Has 2020 changed you in any way?
Staying up late at night was always my habit but I sort of developed the habit of binge watching at night, and reading all the books on my reading list. I could finally manage time for doing all of these. The end of pandemic also signifies my school reopening, which means I’ll have to struggle my way to getting out of my pyjamas and wearing school uniform, and going through routine life again with all sorts of institutional and peer pressure which decreased to a huge extent this year. The pandemic made us stay close to our families which made me realise how much we were losing touch with reality.
Was it great being able to get this time with the fam?
Definitely, we managed to bond like never before, which is something that I personally will miss the most. I gained a lot many things amidst the pandemic and also lost a lot. But on the bright side, it’ll surely count as the most peaceful time—with ups and downs, of course.
Shamainder, 48, Education Advisor
VICE: Hello! Is there anything you’d miss about this pandemic?
Shamainder: The pandemic gave me a chance to slow down and introspect about what I wanted from life. I long for that routine life of being able to go out without a mask and without the possibility of a deadly outcome. Yet, in a way, I want this life to continue too. I feel a sense of gratitude for all the people I have in my life and the affection I feel for them all, and the realisation that the luxurious things we vie for mean nothing in front of our basic needs. Around the world, people have taken to gardening, cooking, blogging, online shopping, cleaning, decluttering, bringing home pets—and so did we. I will miss this.
All our lives have changed tremendously this year but has the pandemic actually helped you in any way too?
Professionally, we as educators honed our technological skills, as we learned to navigate the virtual platform, much to the astonishment and amusement of our already tech-savvy students. On the personal front, my family has learned to relish homemade meals and everyone has tried their hand at cooking, especially making good coffee which I missed terribly. I have never seen such bonhomie at home as we enjoyed being with each other. The kids also learned to tolerate my fastidiousness about keeping the house clean. There is a deep sense of gratitude for the essential services workers and the good internet connectivity. I’m going to miss the time I had to cook my children’s favourite food and the time I spent with my family and pets. It has made me realise the importance of hugging my children tight. We are learning to keep everything simple including expressing our emotions to each other and letting our mind take it one day, one step at a time.
Shamani, 23, Writer
VICE: Hey Shamani, the year is almost over and hopefully the pandemic will soon be too. Is there anything about it all you'll miss when it's over?
Shamani : Definitely don’t think I’ll miss the pandemic itself, but I think I’ll miss some of its side-effects. As irksome as lockdowns were, they were also the perfect excuse to blame any feelings of laziness and lack of motivation. Generally, I think we’re always racing to measure our productivity in terms of our output, but this year, I could blissfully blame my most unproductive moments on 2020. Don’t feel like exercising? Fuck 2020. Don’t feel like catching up on weekend reading? It’s all 2020’s fault. Don’t feel like talking to annoying relatives? 2020 truly sucks!
Also, I’m not sure if I can just credit 2020 for this, but the year seems to have taken away my ability to feel shook. It’s sort of been one bad incident after the other, and now if something bad happens, there’s just this feeling of fatigue, like, “Of course this happened, it’s 2020.” You know how people are always blaming their astrological alignments or saying they’re just passing through a bad phase because mercury is in retrograde? Yeah, 2020 is the new all-encompassing mercury in retrograde.
What will never be the same again?
While I do miss being able to go out without feeling the need to whip out my mask every time some covidiot invades my six feet of personal space, I think this introspective time has also pushed me to rethink my ideas of what going out means. While I’ve always been a passionate advocate for fancy restaurants and underground gigs, 2020 has taught me that even having picnics on an old Disney-print towel can be just as gratifying. I’ve enjoyed the thrill of exploring isolated spaces, whether it’s a narrow bylane that could lead me to a breathtaking river creek, or finding a secret entrance to a beach. I feel as if I had forgotten what it’s like to spend time in a natural setting, and the anxiety that surrounds going to restaurants or bars has pushed me to reconnect with greener pastures.
Shobha, 64, Teacher
VICE: How was your 2020 and is there anything you’d miss about this pandemic?
Shobha: I understood the value of healthy lifestyle this year. Eating nutritious meals to build the immune system, and adopting clean habits and exercise routines is something many took to in 2020. It’s like we all bonded against a common enemy. Moreover, if there’s something we all understood, it is appreciating and being grateful to the workers on the coronavirus front lines. I hope that continues.
Kartik, 24, Software Engineer
VICE: How has the 2020 pandemic experience been, Kartik?
Kartik: The pandemic has been very taxing and emotionally exhausting for a lot of people for a lot of reasons. Although contextual, the sudden change and shifts in the life and lifestyle of people have had an impact on all spheres of our lives. The pandemic has forced people to confine themselves inside their houses, leaving little or no physical and emotional boundaries. For me, the pandemic has been an opportunity to sit with myself and ponder over my life. I remember initially I wanted to make the most of it by eating healthy, working out, pursuing some hobbies, reading a few books, learning a new language, experimenting with food, and a lot more. I did get to do a few of this, but I was not consistent and eventually dropped most of it. This was also because of working from home where there were no rigid boundaries between personal and professional life.
I feel you. A lot of us went through this manic productivity and then just exhaustion… but is there something from these bizarre times you’re gonna miss?
The pandemic presented an opportunity to live with my girlfriend. It was a new experience altogether and we have come closer than what we were before the pandemic. We have evolved a lot and explored intimacy and connection in various ways which are possible only when you get to observe a person very closely. We have cared for each other, nursed each other, drank like crazy, made breakfasts for each other, enjoyed long walks, freaked out about the virus and the increasing cases, danced and cooked, and most importantly, have transitioned into two human beings who love and adore each other. Once the pandemic is over, we might not do this very often till the time we settle somewhere or move in together. I will miss sitting in the balcony and having coffee with boiled sweet corn and managing our schedules so that we can get time to have our meals together. We have had a good share of Netflix, food, wine, laughter, and chill.
Chandni, Student, 21
VICE: Hello, Chandni. Tell us about your 2020?
Chandni: Although the lockdown hasn’t been the most kind to a lot of people, it has some things I’d definitely miss about it. The initial months felt like there was an overload of work, gradually adjusting to the new routines of household chores, but we did get a lot of time in our hands. Reading and cooking became a routine of mine—and I’m going to miss this. Another would be family time. Dividing the household chores and working like a team, eating meals together, and movie nights made the lockdown a bit bearable.
Is there anything you’d miss from this time?
I will definitely miss the freedom to do absolutely nothing. As an introvert, I’m also going to miss the fact that I didn’t need to come up with excuses to avoid plans. Even though this lockdown increased the physical distance between friends and family, we all connected through social media and I became close to a few friends in a way I wasn’t before. Bonding with neighbours, catching up on shows that earlier felt impossible to finish, discovering new hobbies and passions are some of the good things about lockdown that I'm going to cherish.
Aditya, 18, Student
VICE: Hi there, Aditya! How is 2020 treating you?
Aditya: This pandemic brought with it a time long forgotten in my family. My elder sister arrived home from her final year at college just a week before the first lockdown was initiated—and we ended up staying home as a complete family for the first time in more than three years. I played badminton every evening without fail, and my mother taught us how to play card games like Bluff and Teen Patti. We watched more movies than I can count and we baked an endless number of cakes.
Is there anything you’d miss about this time if and when it’s over?
Soon, I will be heading off to my first year of college as a mass communication student and I’ll miss this. I’ll miss these last few months of pure family time with absolutely zero studies which I lacked last year as I prepared for my 12th grade exams. My overdue family time is something that I found in this pandemic. It’s true I can still meet my family and have fun with them. But these last few months were special and won’t come around very often when I explore this world.
Follow Varsha on Instagram.