Our development officer Aparna working on a laptop

Lockdown in India and planning Scottish Interfaith Week in different time zones

Lockdown in India

In March, I visited my family in India when the pandemic brought about a world-wide lockdown. The uncertainty was challenging and as of the day I am writing this, I am still in India.

Unlike a lot of the people who were out of the country and stuck in hotels, I have been fortunate enough to have a home where I am. The lockdown in India was different from the UK, from what I heard from my friends.

Due to the population count, the lockdown was very strict. Inter-state travel was not allowed for almost two months except in case of emergency; groceries, vegetables and fruits were home-delivered; nation-wide businesses had to adapt to the new normal; everyone who could was working from home; flights were grounded; schools and universities were closed.

It was a drastic change to see empty streets and closed shops outside my window. The days were seamlessly flowing together without change either way.

Lockdown easing

The first lockdown eased to allow some travel within the country so that stranded travelers and workers could get home. Then in July, with more travel, there was a sudden increase in cases throughout the country. Until then the cases had been only from travelers coming in from other countries, but now community spread of the infection had begun. Once more lockdown was reinstated with only essential workers going in.

With no significant drop in cases, the lockdown has since been eased a little, but out of concern for personal safety I have not gone out much. While I venture out into our yard, the furthest I have gone is the temple at the end of our street.

Places of worship are opened here with restricted access.

A tropical summer and missing Scotland

As someone who travels a lot during the summer visiting remote locations in the Scottish Highlands, I have very much missed travelling and hiking across the country visiting beaches, islands and puffins. Summer is the best time of the year to enjoy Scotland.

So this year I am here in India, once more enjoying a tropical summer. Thankfully it has been raining heavily and that has made staying home more fun. We have a garden here that I have enjoyed tending to and eating vegetables and fruits from our garden.

It is nice to wake up in the morning to the sound of bird calls and often on a quiet evening, my colleagues get to enjoy them as well.

Working remotely

Once the office moved online, I was able to work remotely. We discovered the magic of video conferencing apps and emailed each other extensively. It was a lot of fun exploring them and learning on the go.

Adapting to the time difference

My biggest challenge was the time difference; India is 4.5 hours ahead of the UK. Some days I have to work until 11 in the night for evening meetings. But over the months I have managed to figure out a good system of working evenings to keep up with my colleagues.

Organising projects online

This time of learning to adapt to an online work platform has been interesting. A lot of blogs and tutorials have popped up which has made the process much easier.

While smaller projects are easy enough, bigger projects like Scottish Interfaith Week are harder to organize over Zoom meetings. Trying to fit in everyone’s time zones and calendars is challenging. But it has been fun to explore what can be done online.

With the shift to hosting online events for Scottish Interfaith Week, one of my responsibilities has been searching for easy-to-use free online software to help host the events. I have learnt so much from my research and I am very excited to see how they all turn out.

Finding connection in online meetings

I am so glad to have the opportunity to be able to work despite the distance. I have interacted more with the local interfaith groups this year from India than I have previously from Glasgow.

Since everyone is having Zoom meetings it is very easy to pop into local group meetings. My unusual distance has brought me closer!

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