Pandemic life

Little things changed by COVID-19

When we think about how the world has changed because of COVID-19, we tend to think of the big things – everyone (who can) working from home, schools staying closed, international trips becoming a distant memory. But a lot of these big changes will probably roll back to some degree after the pandemic is over. I was curious about the little things that changed and will probably stay changed. This is a quick list from my observations, but would love to hear about additions to this:

1. Wallets

I think I’ve always hated the two fold wallet but lived with, without thinking too much. Its too thick and is literally a pain in the ass. I would take it out of my pocket and put it on my desk, or stuff it in front of the gear shift in my car, but for some reason I would never leave the house without it, although I rarely use cash and keep little of it in my wallet. I have an assortment of cards and then an assortment of receipts and all kinds of junk that accumulated over time.

Since I became a near complete homebody, I’ve got used to not having the familiar weight of the wallet in my pocket, and consequently keep forgetting it. It also seems even more stupid than before to sit on a block of leather when I do remember to take it. I therefore started hunting for other options – a phone case that can carry a cards, a small card holder. While I was searching for this, I stumbled upon this CNET.com article about exactly this, and realised I’m not alone in thinking this. Link: https://www.cnet.com/news/a-slim-wallet-is-how-i-learned-to-ditch-cash/

Prediction: Traditional two fold wallets are on their way out. I don’t have sales data to back this up, but if I was a wallet maker, I would consider launching some new products more suited to the times. Here’s what I picked: Spigen Slim Armor CS Back Cover… https://www.amazon.in/dp/B07SZJKW4C?ref=ppx_pop_mob_ap_share

I wish there was an option to fit in some emergency cash too, but a couple of cards embedded in my phone case seemed like the best option for now

2. Luggage tags

You know those small tags that come with most suitcases or bags? I honestly thought it was meant to hold a card with your name on it. Only recently did I realise its meant to hold a luggage tag that you print along with your boarding pass.

For a long time, we’ve been doing web check ins but doing ridiculous things like waiting in a queue to get airport personal to print and stick luggage tags on our bags. It’s like the process went 70% digital but still had a 30% physical component, which defeats the whole purpose.

But when I took my first flight after a year of COVID-19, the airport had finally figured out how to go fully digital. You can show boarding passes on your phone, print luggage tags at home and just drop your bag and walk in. I am going to check all my bags to see if it has a luggage tag and buy a few tags if not.

3. Jeans, belt, socks

Ok that’s several items, but I didn’t want to write a paragraph for each. This might be less relevant in colder climates, but if you live in most of India where it is hot and humid, jeans, belt and socks make no sense. It never made sense, but somehow we all got used to wearing it every day.

Since the pandemic, I have practically been wearing only joggers or track pants and light cotton T shirts. I have a pair of puma slip ons which are breathable, and I wear that without socks, if I’m not wearing sandals.

Once in a month or so when I wear a pair of jeans complete with belt and shoes and socks, I feel like a trussed up chicken. It is outrageously uncomfortable. So much so that I cannot believe I have been living like that forever.

Wear decathlon cotton T shirts and breathable jogger’s or tracks for a week and see the difference. You literally feel like the climate cooled down. I’ve been in Kerala for almost a year thanks to the pandemic, and it was weirdly seeming cooler than I remember living here. No global warming is not a myth, I just started wearing clothes which are appropriate for the climate.

A belt is another accessory that seems ridiculous now. Uncomfortable to drive, lounge in a chair, pointless in every way. Joggers with a drawstring is a simple upgrade.

I’m not sure if this trend holds in cooler cities like Bangalore, but I think I am going to replace 80% of my wardrobe with comfortable clothing instead of some western ideal that got imposed on us at some point without us realising it. To hell with jeans in 30 degree temperature and 80% humidity.

4. Online events

This might sound strange because we have had online events for a long time. But I don’t mean the garden variety webinars. There were so many clubs, courses and events that were always in person, like a literature festival. It’s definitely better when in person but virtual is better than not being able to make it at all.

I was part of a writing club which I stopped going to because it was too far and took up most of my Saturday. There was a ham radio class which I wanted to do but discontinued because I couldn’t get to that place on Saturday mornings. I liked cult fit but same problem, didn’t have the time to go to the center.

I was talking about this with my mother in law and just checked the ham radio place’s website to test my hypothesis and sure enough, they have an online class now. Cult fit has cult live. People can do therapy online. I contacted Kent for a water purifier and they had a video call option on the website.

In future, my prediction is that anything that can be done virtually will be done virtually, or at least have both options. Over time, virtual will win in most cases, even if there are some cons. It’s just too convenient to hold back once people experience it for a while. It will be like fighting the tide.

Anyway, that’s my list for now. Not the best researched or most comprehensive, but I have decided to prioritise quantity over quality in blogging. It sounds bad at first but I did not write for a year or two, then wrote this. It’s just like the virtual class vs. the in person one. Yes the second is great in theory but just doesn’t happen. Something is better than nothing. Perfection is the enemy of getting stuff done.

Let me know if you have any additions to this list. How has COVID-19 changed the little things in life for you?

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