The Coronavirus told by Priya Tanna of Vogue India – Vogue

The last time I went to the offices of Vogue India was a month ago. The headquarters of the magazine, located in the green financial district of Ballard Estate in southern Mumbai, was my second home for 13 years. And that time I didn’t go in with my usual attitude decided by the main door to go straight to my desk, as I do every day. No: this time I had to stop while a body temperature detector was pointed at me (as with all employees of Vogue India) to check that I am well and to work safely, mine and others.

The signs of the pandemic were visible everywhere. On the news, the most affected countries were highlighted on the red dot graphs showing the course of the infection from Covid-19. Right now the virus is present in 210 countries and territories in the world, and therefore nations, states and roads light up red with each new update, minute by minute. Streets that I remembered with affection, so full of life during the aperitif time, are deserted and desolate.

Doctors from the Indian Medical Association do door-to-door screening during the lockdown due to COVID 19 in Mumbai, India.

© Anshuman Poyrekar / Hindustan Times via Getty Images

We soon realized that the pandemic is a reality, and therefore we decided to work from home, accepting these new rules with a mixture of trepidation and uncertainty. And while everyone was trying to make systems and procedures work best, I felt that nothing would have been like before. At home I immediately tried to find the right corners to use as my new workplace.

Our decision was providential. The pandemic, in fact, soon forced every single citizen to work and think differently. On March 22nd, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi proclaimed the Janta Curfew, a voluntary curfew which urged citizens to stay in their homes. Since then, most of the offices have adapted to the new reality.

Outside my window, Mumbai, a city whose name is often associated with words such as ‘non-stop’ and ’24h / 24′ – and criticized worldwide for its appalling traffic – is now silent, distressing, almost like a ghost town. It is a city that has gone through many – terrorist attacks, floods, collective riots – but Mumbai’s spirit and ability to recover have always helped it to recover from any crisis, natural or man-made. Yet with the uncertainty created by Covid-19, a new and unknown virus, even the country’s financial capital has had to step back.

View of an empty street at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus during the lockdown in Mumbai, March 30 2020.

© Photography Ashish Vaishnav / SOPA Images / Shutterstock

Our local trains, considered the lifeline of the city, which serve 8 million people every day, but also the dabbawalas of Mumbai, they did something really unheard of when they decided to suspend All the services. THE dabbawala – six-sigma company (high quality standard, NDR) – have suspended their highly efficient service for the first time in 130 years of activity. Then events were canceled, shops and malls were closed, as well as restaurants (apart from some home delivery), the sidewalks were emptied, and travel, like all the other things we had taken for granted, was prohibited. We could no longer order anything that came to mind from home, we could no longer see our loved ones, nor could we sit by the sea or walk along the streets, which, as anyone who lives here can confirm, are the things that make this city our home.

Today we continue to work as usual, but in a different way. A whole new vocabulary has made its appearance in this world of smart working: our usual kit, i.e. telephone-wallet-keys, has been replaced by gloves, masks and sanitizing gel. And our daily conversations are now littered with terms like ‘social distancing’ and ‘self-isolation’.

A woman strolls on the deserted Mira road in Mumbai, 23 March 2020.

© Photography DIVYAKANT SOLANKI / EPA-EFE / Shutterstock

In the coronavirus timeline, timely actions such as the administration of treatments and the adoption of preventive measures seem to give promising signals. And although the numbers continue to improve, we are still confined to our home in an attempt to stop further spread of the infection. But a certain routine has started to take shape, and new rules take hold in the lives of all of us.

Zoom has become our new meeting room. And even though I miss the morning frenzy of our daily editorial meetings now I can see my colleagues in their natural habitat, while they juggle work commitments, the management of children and the care of their animals. This period outside our offices has taught me many new things.

True, the coronavirus stopped our everyday routine, but in my role as director I learned to realign myself with new technologies and solutions to release a relevant issue of the magazine, even without the resources that we usually have available. Logistics companies have stopped, so we decided to release the April issue in free PDF format on Vogue.in, to give our readers an opportunity for escape and inspiration. Also on our website, new ideas to improve ourselves while we are at home can be useful in the context of our #VogueFromHome campaign.

Hindu devotees pray in front of a closed temple during the lockdown in Mumbai, India, 6 April 2020.

© Photography DIVYAKANT SOLANKI / EPA-EFE / Shutterstock

As an expert, these difficult times have introduced me to some truly terrible realities. It’s serious difficulties that the sector is facing at a time when shops are closed and small businesses are struggling to stay afloat. Among the sectors affected by the national lockdown there are also weavers and craftsmen, the backbone of the sector. Orders are canceled and production stops, but I can still see the positive side, thanks to my stylist friends who have come together to support them.

Starting with Anita Dongre, who has announced that she wants to create a special fund for medical expenses worth 1.5 crores of rupees (180 thousand Euros, Editor’s note) to support “small suppliers, artisans who work on their own and partners who have no insurance or medical coverage to deal with the health emergency from Covid-19”. The initiative pushed the community to join forces, and in fact other designers, Sabyasachi Mukherjee, Manish Malhotra, Tarun Tahiliani, Anamika Khanna, Sanjay Garg and Rina Singh have teamed up in the name of compassion. The most important Indian designers have taught me that no matter how competitive and ruthless the fashion industry is, at the end of the day we manage to join forces, just like a big family.

As a wife, the pandemic shows me the boundaries with completely new eyes. My husband, who is currently in Dubai, faces self-isolation from there, and it is inconceivable to see how we are all closed within our own borders.

Aerial view of the Bandra-Worli bridge desert in Mumbai, India, 22 March 2020

© Photography DIVYAKANT SOLANKI / EPA-EFE / Shutterstock

As a mother, this situation gave me back precious moments to spend with my son, eight years. I recently cut his hair, and I made the bangs by mistake, which he didn’t want at all (and yes, you learn wrong). These days I find myself modifying my roadmap to align her schoolwork with my deadlines, and balance work with family time, as do other people on my team who have children.

And while we wait for the world to return to normal and imagine what our life will be like after the lockdown, this period in isolation has given us a rare opportunity, to reflect and rethink our relationship with everything, like work, money, others, family. Today more than ever, we give priority to all those things that give value to our lives, that appease our minds and cheer up our feelings. And if #WFH, working from home, is now the norm, it has certainly changed our relationship with style: today clothes are a source of comfort and happiness.

I am an eternal optimist, and even in our collective isolation I see a glimmer of hope. Listening to the birds chirping among the concrete skyscrapers, seeing the peacocks on the streets of Malabar Hill and admiring the sunset in the clear sky of a city without smog is like throwing a look full of joy in what could be our future. That’s what I hope, until the moment we can meet again, shake hands, touch our cheeks with a kiss, and hug us again.

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