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  • Raghav Sand

2020: The Year That Was

Conversations and actions bind humans together. The year 2020 was unprecedented in more ways than one. It started like any other year, but an abrupt gloom and doom submerged the planet. Undoubtedly, the SARS Cov-2 (COVID-19) pandemic was the most dominant event of the much-awaited year which eventually succumbed to its rhyming tone of twenty-twenty. Major sporting events like the quadrennial Summer Olympics and the Euro Football Championship were postponed for next year. Expo 2020, which was scheduled to be hosted in Dubai from October 2020 – April 2021 has also been assigned new dates; the Expo has been rescheduled to be held from October 2021 – March 2022.

Perpetual Holidays

Summer holidays in the northern hemisphere was absent without leave and the same fate is on the cards in southern hemisphere. Most of the people have been living one day at a time, and they will be able to comprehend the real impact of 2020 in the years to come. As the world starts to think that the worst is over, we get information about a new strain of COVID-19. Travel restrictions and muted festivities have become part of life; this and much more is the new normal.

Immunization has begun in some countries and many more countries are in the final phases of giving approval. Breaking the chain of viral infections from COVID-19 will take longer than current estimates. The human spirit has shown extraordinary resilience in these tough times. Family and friends have stood by each other and human ingenuity has triumphed. We are all affected by the number of lives lost in the past year. There were other diseases and other unnatural causes of death, though in terms of road accidents, it has been a relatively mild year due to lengthy lockdown.

Culture and trends do not wait for a pit stop to refuel. The wheels of evolution and habits take form in any situation. In 2020, popular culture was largely subdued, but it was not missing in action. Some of the defining trends have touched most of us in some way or the other. Few people would have instinctively tried some of the activities, while others may have done it due to the fear of missing out. Nevertheless, people found ways to engage in positive and productive activities. Having a schedule and list of actions was important to maintain sanity in an otherwise insane year.

Zoom: In and Out

Enterprise level video conferencing is one of the biggest trends of 2020. The sceptics may argue that it was more of a necessity rather than a trend which emerged or blossomed in 2020. Necessity is the mother of all inventions and there was no better way for working professionals and students to stay connected with colleagues and teachers, respectively. As the popularity of Zoom – an American videotelephony company – skyrocketed, legacy companies like Microsoft and Google released new / improved version of a similar product in the market. Before gradual unlock of the economy was announced, the Zoom fatigue made a strong impact on its users. When the history of the world is written, the COVID-19 pandemic and Zoom software will be inseparable.

Waist-up Fashion

The trend of video-conferencing saw the emergence of dressing waist-up formally, while the lower half was covered with casuals. It was a classic example of being minimalistic and doing only what is necessary. Work from home gave people liberty to dress as per their wishes, but soon dress codes were communicated by appropriate / authorized people. Sales of trousers and denim plummeted, while athleisure was the preferred choice of most.

Chores Chorus

Routine household tasks do not find favour with everyone. The lockdown imposed in late March was a reality check for people who have not done any tangible work at home. Commuting restrictions, and the attempt to stop the spread of COVID-19 meant that domestic helps were unable to come for work. The support system of most middle-and-higher-income group households had no way to work from home. After the initial burnout, tasks were allocated among family members and everyone tried to do them diligently. Those living with families coped better, and the individuals staying in co-living accommodation away from their domicile finally started to appreciate the cook and cleaner. Almost every one who had domestic help or driver prior to the pandemic realised that it was because of the service of these selfless and underpaid individuals, they have been able to focus on their jobs and / education. The vacuum of appreciation was subsequently filled with gratitude and respect.

The Year of the Pet

Almost every one has that one friend or a member of their extended family who adopted a pet in 2020. Dogs were the most popular choice, while cats were not too far behind. Feeding stary animals was also at an all time high, and the world found comfort in providing food and shelter to the needy. Having a pet has its benefits; they are playful companions and provide strong emotional support. The year 2020 is in many ways a year of solitude, and those of whom had a furry friend were slightly better placed during the emotional turmoil.

Mental Health: From Stigma to Seeker

There is nothing cool in telling the world about mental health. The pandemic was the tipping point for many people who thought about keeping their feelings under wraps. Family, friends and strangers came to the rescue for those who were on the brink of a breakdown. Therapists were flooded with requests for appointments and a timely intervention saved the day.

Bubbles: Investing and Sports Leagues

Professional sports leagues were halted in the month of March, and were later resumed under strict bio-bubbles. Standard operating procedures had to be devised, which were later shared with other sports leagues. The German Bundesliga was the first major football league to resume and later almost every other league followed suit. NBA (Basketball) and IPL (Cricket) are one of the most popular sports leagues in the world, and both the events concluded without any major mishaps. Professional sports leagues are serious business – it has multiple stakeholders and indefinite cessation was not a viable option. As far as the investing bubble is concerned, it has been fueled by stimulus and exuberance.

E-commerce: From Devil to Deity

Ordering through mobile applications or over the internet was seen with apprehension and fear. There were people who sat on the fence and doubted the quality of products. For those who could not / did not want to go to market for household needs frequently, found their saviour in grocery delivery companies. Working professionals ordered for their parents living far away and made online payments conveniently. Ordering through these platforms further reduced the use of currency notes, a possible vehicle for transmission of COVID-19 virus.

Verbal for Herbal: Back to the Roots

A decoction (Kadha) is a liquid resulting from heating or boiling a substance, especially a medicinal preparation made from a plant. Forgotten herbs made a stellar comeback and everyone got their share of the sip. The slurp became part of routine for many and a ritual for the devout. Turmeric, cardamom and honey were somewhat easy to procure, while liquorice root (Mulethi) and cinnamon (Dalchini) found new ardent enthusiasts. Immunity boosting properties of these items had a positive physiological as well as psychological effects.

Looking Ahead

Social media has been filled with messages about how people want 2020 to get over. If memers had their way, they would have had the new year almost 6 months back. Time is the most consistent thing we know and please be rest assured that the situation in the world regarding everything will be almost identical on 31st December and 1st January. All of us sincerely wish that a potent vaccine is developed and distributed in the upcoming calendar year; until then keep cooperating and collaborating to make the world a better place.

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