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Dhaka Tribune

OP-ED: The year of ...

Some good came out of this terrible year

Update : 27 Dec 2020, 01:27 AM

Let’s face facts, people. 2020 hasn’t been kind to us but is indeed eventful -- mostly for bad reasons. The pandemic cast a gloom over a big chunk of the calendar and, while we hoped for a reprieve during the year-end festivities after having things relatively under control and -- boom! -- it’s back, ruining our jolly mood and forcing the cancellations of many NYE parties and events. I’m sure the past year has us thinking and rethinking about a lot of things in our lives and what 2020 would go down as in our personal history. 

The year of picking up new habits, hobbies, and skills

Many of us have washed our hands this year more times than we have had done in our entire lives. Some may even have a hand-washing song or amass respectable collections of face masks and hand sanitizers. Keeping a distance from another person in a 7-Eleven queue and facing the wall while in an elevator has become second nature. Doing Tony Stark’s hand beam (repulsor beams to be more accurate) in front of a temperature scanner or getting shot in the head with a temperature gun is just part of life now. 

During the lockdown, you may develop green thumbs and realize that you’re quite the potted plant pundit. Have a Zoom meeting wearing only undies from the waist down without getting caught, no problem!

The year of new words

I’m a bit of a language nerd so I’m fascinated by how the pandemic has spawned new words in our collective glossary especially the portmanteaus. If you’re a covidient, you take Miss Rona seriously and always get into elevatorantine while riding a lift with others. If you understand the previous sentence, you’re clued up.

The year of looking on the bright side

One thing that has struck me the most this year is the ability for people to make light of a situation and choose to look at the bright side during trying times. Miss Rona may have ruined so many things but we also witnessed an outpour of goodwill and charitable acts by ordinary people and organizations towards the less fortunate. Also, remember how businesses and individuals have improvised ways to maintain social distancing? 

A Vietnamese restaurant in Bangkok placed panda dolls at their tables as dining companions. A cafe in Kasetsart University devised a rope and pulley system to serve customers coffees without coming into contact with them. The virus also inspired recipes such as corona cookies and crispy roti masks.

The year of not taking things for granted

During the lockdown, we missed the mundane, everyday activities that we weren’t allowed to do. As much I don’t want to admit, I missed going to Bangkok’s endless supply of malls. Attending live music concerts and the sardine can simulation feels so foreign now. I even miss filming a sea of mobile phones in front of me filming a live performance. Japan, I’m coming for you when they allow international commercial flights again.

The year of counting your own blessings

If you manage to stay employed while reading this, congrats, you’re one of the blessed ones. That’s already your Xmas and New Year gift. May you be so in 2021, too. Also, on a much larger scale of human history, you’re already lucky for not being born when World War I and the Spanish flu consecutively hit the world. Talking about double whammy on a global scale.

The year of empathy

Countless businesses have closed down while many have become unemployed. Events get postponed or cancelled, left and right. We realize how fragile our economy can be. If you’re not a psychopath, you must have felt empathy for those who were and are struggling. You may even have helped out someone through your own actions and/or donations.

While you may want to leave many things behind with 2020, I would like to encourage you to continue to be empathetic. We need it now more than ever.

Happy New Year, everyone!

Pornchai Sereemongkonpol is Guru Section Editor. This article first appeared on The Bangkok Post and has been reprinted under special arrangement.

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