Quarantining with Quirk
Our online classes started almost immediately after we were all sent home. The lockdown order that followed also meant that most people would have to vacate their temporary residences and go back to their homes. Online classes are functioning smoothly (for the most part), law school is working as usual (minus the physical law school part itself), and the non-teaching staff at NLS are working very hard right now to make this happen.
They are at home, they are managing their families, they are planning their finances and supplies, yet they are also helping run the college efficiently. Quirk reached out to Madhu Sir, our Assistant Librarian, Padma Ma’am, Supervisor of the UG Course at the Academic Administration Department, and Usha Ma’am and Beena Ma’am, Administrative Staff at the Vice-Chancellor’s Office.
Quirk also wanted to interview other members who may not officially be a part of the University but are a beloved part of the NLSIU Community. Quirk reached out to Chetta, owner of Aishwarya Bakery, and Jayaram Sir, owner of the printing shop at the Library. These are people who are non-salaried and who get by on account of the business that the NLSIU community gives them. Quirk felt that it would be important to understand the disproportionate impact that the lockdown has had on different members of NLSIU.
These interviews were carried out by the Quirk Team, with help from Karthik Rai (Batch of 2023).
This article is the first of a series, Quarantining with Quirk.
Assistant Librarian at NLSIU
I am home alone, so I am trying new recipes. My routine includes cleaning the house, washing clothes, listening to lots of music using apps like Spotify, SoundCloud and Amazon Music and downloading new movies through Telegram. I am watching movies and series on Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hotstar. I am a huge fan of Manchester United, so I watch old matches on YouTube. I have gained weight so I work out daily. I also video call my friends who are abroad. I am making videos about the quarantine and sharing them on Whatsapp with my friends.
With respect to work, I am working from home. So you can call me ‘Home Librarian’. I am constantly in touch with my colleagues – without their help and cooperation, I can’t fulfill any of the requests sent by the faculty and the students. We are online 24/7. My colleagues and I have compiled the list of open source websites which will be very useful for the user community during this lockdown period. We are supporting our users through Digital Reference Service everyday.
The greatest difficulty which I am facing right now with respect to doing my job is the frustration that I feel because of working from home. It’s very hard to find materials and fulfill the users’ requirements while sitting at home. It’s hard to not be able to order new books and receive them quickly to help out our faculty and my students.
I miss my library so much. I miss playing football with my students, helping them find materials, receiving new books and ordering new books. I also miss my colleagues and having tea and lunch with them. I am worried about campus dogs – since no one is there on campus, I don’t know who is feeding them?
Praying for everyone’s safety during this crisis and looking forward to getting back to normal life ASAP.
Owner of Aishwarya Bakery at NLSIU
I’m right now at my friend’s place in Bangalore. I couldn’t travel home because of the lockdown. The other chettas are home, but I am stuck here since only I arrived first for the reopening in March. I had planned to leave on Monday (23rd March), but there was unsold ice-cream. Before I could sell all of it and make travel plans, they announced a lockdown. I can still go home by going to Mysore and taking a bus from there. But I heard they mandatorily admit everyone to the hospital and only discharge us after a 15-day quarantine.
What do I to spend time? Nothing much, just sitting in my room (laughs). Those back at home also don’t have much to do. My friend has a grocery store here which opens at 12pm. Sometimes I sit there for a while. Sometimes I watch TV. If they do lift the lockdown restrictions on April 15th, I’ll try boarding a bus and getting home, so let’s see what the government decides. Of course, even if they do lift the restrictions, people would be travelling around and crowding again.
As of now, I don’t face any financial problem as such. But obviously, isn’t everyone affected financially? People employed by the college might still be receiving their salaries. But it’s been a while since we’ve been on campus: February, March, April – it’s been three months. That’s the problem. We can’t do anything about it either, except sit in our rooms. Thankfully, there’s no problem with availability of food and other essentials here. The main problem is not being able to go home. I can somehow manage here. Even if I send money home, they can’t go to an ATM to collect it because they’re only allowing people to go out for essential goods and services. So at home, they might be facing a few problems financially. Kannur (my hometown) is really affected as there are a lot of people who returned from the Gulf, so it’s understandable. They don’t realise how harmful it is (to wander around). In Kasargod, one man gave the disease to everyone, right? If he had been careful, the spread could’ve been mitigated. Similarly, in Delhi, a lot of people gathered together. That’s the problem. I don’t think the situation will be alright even after this month. The number of cases is only increasing.
The biggest thing I miss about NLS is the fact that I don’t have anything else to do now. I’m stuck on my own. I watched movies for the first week, but now I’m fed up of movies. How many films can someone watch? (laughs) I switched to a six month post-paid plan so I could make maximum use of it.
Supervisor of the UG Course in the Academic Administration Department
I couldn’t spend quality time with my two daughters earlier, but now I am finally spending time with them. My day includes cooking a variety of dishes, playing indoor games with my children, taking care of my mother who is 86 years old and watching Maha Bharath.
Apart from that, I am working from home and giving as much time as I would have if I was working in the office. The only difference is that I don’t have physical files to refer to and work. Therefore, I am finding it difficult to address all the students’ queries and attend to faculty needs satisfactorily while working from home.
I miss our students a lot. I am extremely attached to the NLS campus, office and students as I have been completely involved in work and committed to NLS since 1989. I miss everything at NLS.
Owner of the printing shop at the NLSIU Library
I am not in Bangalore as of now. I have gone back to my hometown, which is about 20 kms from Tumkur. My life during the quarantine is very boring. There is nothing that we can do, we are jobless (laughs). My network is also really bad so it’s difficult to speak to people. I only watch movies on TV, which also becomes boring after some time. We own a plantation, but there is no work going on. Since we aren’t supposed to go outside, and with the increasing uncertainty, the 7 people in our home just spend time with each other. We play board games, like Chowka Bara (chuckles) or chess at times. That’s is my only time pass strategy.
My finances are the biggest problem in this lockdown. Sure, we have been asked to return to campus on the 14th of April, but with the recent spike in the number of cases, who knows what is going to happen? Unless something is found or something is done about it, we do not know anything for sure. We have suffered a lot due to this lockdown. No one is working from our family, and it’s a complete loss now. All we can do is subsist on savings, and we don’t even know how long that will last. I don’t know how I will be able to manage. It is very difficult to stay away from business for a long time.
What can I miss in NLS apart from my printing/photocopying business? Since my only job in NLS is my business, which is what earns me money, it’s the only thing that I really miss right now (sighs).
Usha Ma’am and Beena Ma’am
Administrative Staff at the Vice-Chancellor’s Office
We are taking all possible precautions and are spending our entire time in the house. Indeed, sometimes it is very difficult to spend the whole day in the house. But we don’t have a choice because it is an issue of the health of the entire country which cannot be compromised at any cost. We are spending time by reading books, getting in touch with our relatives, meditating, exercising, and taking good care of our health.
We are working from home. However, as we are non-teaching staff, we are not in a position during this lockdown period to do all the work that we used to do while being in the office. The University authorities were very quick in taking the decision to start online classes so as to see that the loss to the student community was minimised to all possible extents. Even the non-teaching staff are attending Zoom meetings which is a new learning experience for all of us and we are happy that we can contribute in some way under these extreme circumstances. As staff of the Vice-Chancellor’s Office, we are arranging and attending meetings, coordinating with different departments, getting in touch with concerned officials via the phone and through mail and are doing our part to the best of our abilities under the prevailing circumstances.
What we miss most is interacting with students. We also know as parents, how difficult it is for the students to cope under these circumstances. However, we expect all of you to make the best use of the facilities made available to you by the University at a very short notice and continue your academic pursuit. At the same time, do take care of your health, have fun and we would like to see the same confident, smiling, and active students back in the University at the earliest.