Story by Tapasya DAS
It was the onset of winter. The year had been tumultuous but the hues of Autumn seemed beautiful. It was a Sunday evening, I was at my desk and I was transcribing my first Lockdown Economy Interview assignment. At that moment, I wasn’t aware of what I had chanced upon. That one video would lead me so far and would become so much more in due course. However, that day, it was me listening to two strangers speaking and taking down their words quite passively with the sole intent of contributing to the COVID crisis recovery in the tiniest possible way.
Who am I?
I am a 24-year-old Indian woman. I had just finished my studies and I had secured a job in a field entirely different from what I had specialised in. Even after months of ardently pursuing what I am passionate about, it had all been futile and I had lost heart.
Since mid-March of the year 2020, I had readily as well as reluctantly chosen an isolated life for myself with my family in our hometown. The lockdown was a forced reality but the isolation was a choice I made. An indulgent dad, a selfless mom, the innocent faces of my little pets and an occasional Tennyson or Bryon were the only things that kept me happy and going those days. The purpose of my life had lost its meaning to my own self. I was past that point of helplessness. I was getting engulfed by my own despair and I probably craved to hear one small sentence: “Hey, you are not alone!”
Quite unexpectedly, I came across AlterContacts one fine day. I started getting projects and those projects, in turn, introduced me to the stories of some wonderful people from all around the world. There were people from The Netherlands, Canada, Lebanon, Turkey, the USA, the Philippines and so many other dissimilar locations. However, each of their stories was principally alike and aligned.
Those were some courageous people who braved employing their own selves and others during the arduous times of the pandemic. Each of them toiled harder than I had ever known. But after each story, however, I comprehended that the integrity they retained in their hearts had triumphed in their lives sooner or later.
Those people never gave up. I was so deeply motivated when I saw that none of them faltered while recounting their ups and downs and they maintained that smile on their faces as they did so. It was so inspiring seeing people hope and it was more fascinating seeing that hope thrive in each one of their lives.
My own difficulties appeared so much smaller in front of what everyone else had gone through or are still going through. But somehow, those same obstacles that all of us had been facing gave us an equal standing in the world. Never before had the world seemed such a wonderfully small place where there were no more Indians or Americans or Europeans. There were only people, one global setback, a strong sense of solidarity and a united will to recuperate from the unfavourable circumstances we are all living in.
In the beginning, I found myself in that tiny group. That group grew larger with every new interview and luckily it continues to do so even today. Eventually, I found myself in a wonderful community of people belonging to different age groups and geographical regions but who had enough unanimity amongst themselves to overcome any challenge. The world is more accessible than before even though I am still in that tiny bedroom of my childhood. Everything has changed even though nothing has. However, being a Citizen of the World never seemed easier.
COVID changed my life too, like everyone else’s. I was forced to abandon what I had always aspired to become and I opted for something more practical. I had no faith in myself and I decided to sustain my existence by getting myself employed by one industrial bigwig. I started my first job. I was working remotely. It still seems quite unreal to me, even though I am employed and I have colleagues all around me in the virtual space, I was ultimately left alone in front of my laptop in that tiny bedroom. Not a single person I knew was brave enough to openly discuss their desperations. I was in an atmosphere where people pretended to be unaffected. They preferred hiding their humiliations rather than prizing it and blatantly using it as a stepping stone to success.
But things our hearts want or our minds need are actually perceived by the universe at some point in time. We are ultimately given what we are looking for.
For us, people in AlterContacts, it was the positivity that we needed and it is much more that we got.
The people in our virtual group continue to bond amongst each other without even actually requiring to meet or to interact too much. The diversity we see amongst us is quite delightful as well. There are young enthusiasts with focussed ambitions, innovative dads, multitasking moms or tenured resources trying something new and so much more. We were all together and we continue to encourage each other every day. Some of us support the other with our actions whilst others do the same with their words.
There are no immediate success stories. Instead, there are stories about the journeys of different people who had been tried by the universal destiny. The paths they are walking along, the decisiveness they had shown, the mistakes they made, the triumphs they had and the longterm goals they have set, are all laid bare. Change is life and that’s what each one of those stories emphasised.
As for myself, I have changed my outlook as well. I have reset my goals and I have imbibed some positivity in my life again. I have realised it’s not at all a silly thing to hope. It’s not at all humiliating to stumble and tell the world that you did so. It’s indeed beautiful when people pull people up, they lend a shoulder to the other whether that person needs it or not. It’s beautiful when nobody is left behind. The world indeed can be a wonderful place only when people start caring for every other person, animal or tree, like their own. It is indeed possible to surpass the individual notions and the true beauty of life can be perceived only after we do so!
And what else do I know today?
“I am not at all alone! We are not alone! Nobody is alone!”
*** About the Project Tapasya is volunteering at
To help small businesses and self-employed professionals overcome the challenges of the pandemic and reactivate the economy, in June 2020 the Think Tank AlterContacts launched the Lockdown Economy. It is a global non-profit grassroots social-economic and educational movement. The United Nations has recognized it as an Acceleration Action for the Sustainable Development Goals.
You too can join us on this journey https://lockdowneconomy.org.