Festivities at Workplace in Times of COVID19

The festive months in India have begun. Until last year, October-November used to mark the beginning of a time when there would be fewer and fewer dull moments in the office. Plans for Navratri and Durga Puja, plans for Diwali would be under full swing, with the workplace staying decked up all through these couple of months. In the crisp pre-winter air, dressing up, having good food and having office parties was something many of us looked forward to. A lull for a few weeks gave us some post-festival blues, but before we had the time to get over it, Christmas and New Year would come next! But now, we have a different situation. The big C is still here. We thought it would go away, but it hasn’t. Although a lot of us are back in the office, it is just not the same.

Forget post-festival blues, we might get festival blues now! After all, how does one celebrate when there are so many precautions to be taken, so many guidelines to be followed and amidst the many pieces of unpleasant news we hear on daily basis?

While precautions and guidelines will need to be followed, we can still celebrate the festive season in our own little safe ways. There is scope for a socially distanced party. Here are some more some ideas to celebrate festivals with your co-workers amidst the pandemic.

Let us take a look!

Have A Virtual Party:

By now, most of us would be familiar with virtual meetings and virtual conferences and virtual interviews. Might as well get familiar with a virtual party!

When one has been using virtual platforms for all things work, it is easy to forget that those very platforms can be used as a way to have fun.

Organizing virtual events where talented employees perform can be a fun and a safe way to have a party. Send out a nice and blingy virtual invite, fix a festive dress-code, fix the slots and we have a talent evening right there! Singing, mimicry, stand up comedy, poetry…anything as long as everyone is having fun!

Have A Competition….At Your Own Homes:

Few of the many things people might be missing are the decorations, the Rangolis, and in many cases, the in-office Rangoli competitions.

Well, who said we need to be together to compete?

Employees can decide upon a theme, decide who should be the judge, maybe even fix the colours they are allowed to use, pick a corner of their house and create the Rangolis! Then they can upload the photos on the company’s social media pages, or even just share amongst the colleagues. And here we have a full fledged Rangoli competition!

If one is missing the decorations, one might even have a decoration contest. Employees may pick a corner of their homes, decorate it with all the creativity, share the photos, and again, similar to the Rangoli competition, can share photos and get into a fun competition!

The ideas are endless when we realise a lot can be done together, even when we are apart!

Gifts and More Gifts!

Thanks to this very convenient technology of online shopping and shipping, gifting and buying gifts is still something that has not been affected too much amidst the new normal.

  A simple thing like receiving a lovely festive hamper at one’s doorstep can be a huge mood booster. (Maybe the winners of all those virtual competitions can get an extra package delivered to their doorstep!)

It is thus such simple ideas which can help us feel festive in the new normal. It is time we make an even better use of technology. It is time we make a festive use of technology!

One might feel there is not much to celebrate; that the festivals are just not the same this time; that everything reminds of the times we are living in. But as we have talked about in one of our previous articles, celebrating the little things in little ways can go a long way in keeping up everyone’s spirits.

Sukkot Week and the Stories of Gratitude: What You See Is What You Are Grateful For

Sukkot week is going on! Some of us our readers who have been following us would know how we are giving you all stories to ponder over gratitude and counting blessings. We will quickly tell what Sukkot is to our new readers. Sukkot is a weeklong Jewish festival, celebrated with a purpose to be grateful about our blessings, in all forms.

Stories provide us an outsider’s perspective, often helping us see the big picture in our own life as well! Something similar happened to one of our readers:

I was talking to a friend of mine, rather, complaining.

I will jump straight to our phone conversation (how else are we to talk these days?)

Let us call my friend Mr. H.

‘I am so fed up of this situation. It’s more upsetting because I finally felt like I had a plan. I had saved up enough to invest in a start-up. My wife was going to get a better job as well, somewhere closer to our house so we could spend more time as a family together. We had also seen a new, better house, in our same neighbourhood. Things seemed to be falling into place, finally. And then BOOM! Then came the pandemic, and I am stuck where I was. ‘

My friend H was listening to me patiently.

‘Let me tell you a story.’ I was about to go off on him. Here I was telling him my problems, and he wants to become a storyteller here! At the same time, I was curious. H is a smart guy. ‘Go ahead’. I told him, almost flatly.

H started his story,

‘There was once a little boy who loved to play football. His family was sort of below average in terms of income- they did well with the minimalistic lifestyle they had and spent only when something was genuinely needed. The little boy who loved to play football wanted those special boots all the kids in his neighbourhood wore, he wanted the football studs.

He asked his parents. The shoes were quite expensive! They told him that they would not be able to buy those for him immediately. Maybe, in a few months.

The boy was sad and angry at the same time.

Why did his family not have the riches? Why could they not afford a pair of good shoes?

He tried to ask his parents once more. Twice, thrice during the week, but it was the same response.


 “Maybe sometime in the future.”

Dejected, the little boy went on his way to the playground. It was evening, and time to play with his friends, something he looked forward to, but today, the air felt heavy and gloomy. The sunny evening seemed to have a cast of grey over it.

Suddenly, he saw a car stop over at one of the houses on the way. From it, a woman quickly came down and opened the door of one of the seats at the back. The little boy who loved football tried to see who the woman was trying to help get down the car. It was a boy with clutches. The boy who loved football saw a boy with clutches, struggling to do a simple activity. ‘

And with this, H concluded his story and paused.

It was my time to speak now.

‘I understand now what you mean. My life is still beautiful, even with all its problems. I have a lovely family. A comfortable house. Food to eat, and everyone I know is safe. I think I need to be more grateful for what I have.’

‘My friend is wise’, said H. I could feel him smiling through the phone.

I could hear the song ‘kuchh log hai juto ko rote, kuchh logo ke paun nahi hote’ in the background. H had started to play this song on his laptop as were talking and I could hear it. He has a weird way of storytelling.

Through my conversation with H, I also realised how gratitude is all about attracting more abundance. The more grateful you are, the more happiness you will get. The more gratitude you practice, the more things you will find to be thankful about.

And with this, we wind up our series of Sukkot week articles!

Sukkot Week and the Stories of Gratitude: The Vision Of 2020

Those of you who have read our previous article know it is the Sukkot week! Those of you who just joined us, let us tell you quickly what Sukkot is all about. Sukkot is a weeklong Jewish festival, celebrated with a purpose to be grateful about our blessings, in all forms. And all through the Sukkot week, we will bring you some stories and anecdotes of gratitude.

One of our readers shares her story:

Quite a few of us must have made New year Resolutions. After all, it was 2020, the year which was to give us 20-20 vision! The landmark year, dawning onto our lives.

Little did we know that the only resolution, the only goal of 2020 would be: Staying Alive. (Can you all hear the song in the background?)

Nine months have passed since. Dear readers would have realised by now how important it is to stay fit and alive. Nothing more, nothing less.

To take a step further, some of us might also have realised how important it is to thank God, for keeping us and our loved ones in good health.

This realisation did not come to me easily and effortlessly. Like most of the people who would be reading this, 2020 has given me a fair share of problems, the latest being a health issue my dear family member faced recently.

My mother-in-law recently had a hip replacement surgery. I have been tending to her since the past two weeks. It has been tiring, and it is difficult to see a loved one bed-ridden like this.

 One night, while turning sides, I had an epiphany of sorts. In my sleeplessness, I realised how fortunate I am to have working limbs; the ability to do this simple act is in itself a blessing!

How fortunate I am to not be bed-ridden. And how fortunate I am to be able to be there for my mother-in-law in these tough times, to be able to look after her. I can’t imagine how difficult it would have been otherwise!

Life is full of troubles. And many times, we are the ones who are caught in a storm of difficulties. Some readers might point how it is much easier to be grateful when you are in a good place, when you have all the comforts and conveniences.

What about those who are themselves unwell, unfit or in a difficult position? How are they to remain grateful, and what for?

The point is to have an attitude of gratitude. The point is to be grateful about even the tiniest of things, the seemingly inconsequential things. 

When life seems to be full of troubles, with clouds of storm looming over, be grateful for the lessons you might learn. Be grateful how strong you will emerge.

When life seems to be going smoothly, be grateful for the bliss and the comfort.

An attitude of gratitude is all about being grateful, whether we are in a good situation or an unpleasant one.

The pandemic might have wrecked our plans; it might have disturbed our routine, and it might have amplified our problems. That is all the more reason to count your blessings.

It is all about appreciating even the faint silver linings of the cloud. Or even appreciating the cloud because it is shielding us from the harshness of the sun perhaps!

Sukkot Week: A Festival All About Being Grateful

We have been hearing conversations about how festivals would feel so different this time around, owing to the pandemic. We aren’t going into all that, not to worry! But we are going to talk about a festival, nevertheless. Maybe, a festival which we all can celebrate in our own little ways. A festival that now helps us see its meaning the way we have never been able to see before. We are talking about the Jewish festival of Sukkot.

Sukkot is a Jewish festival, lasting almost a week, commemorating not any historic event but rather as a way to express gratitude. Sukkot is called Chag HaAsif (“the Festival of Ingathering,” or “Harvest Festival”), and Chag HaSukkot (“Festival of Booths”). Both the names remind people of two different things to be grateful about.

The name Chag HaAsif reminds one of the bountiful of crops that grow in Israel in winter, which get ready for harvest in the late spring or early fall. The name Chag HaSukkot reminds one of the tale when God created a shelter of clouds from the desert sun when the ancestral Jewish people were on their journey from Egypt, thus protecting them. Some other legends also say how Chag HaSukkot reminds one of the tents they all dwelled in for their forty-year-old trek though the Sinai desert.

In other words, it is a festival all about gratitude. Gratitude for life, and gratitude for the blessings. There are a whole lot of traditions and customs surrounding the festival, right from the ‘dwelling’ one is supposed to live in through the Sukkot week, to the kind of meals one is supposed to have, all reminding, once again, to be grateful of the blessings and bounty we have.

Whatever be our religious background and belief, there is always something one can take from all the religious festivals. We bring you a little story. Read on!

Counting Your Blessings:

Two friends were having a conversation. To be more specific, they were having a virtual conversation over a video call.

Let us call them Mrs. R and Mrs. P.

Mrs. P and Mrs. R were colleagues a few years ago. When Mrs.  R shifted to a different city, they continued to remain friends. The two were used to keeping in touch over calls and messages. The pandemic made that connection even stronger.

During this particular conversation, Mrs. P was on the verge of tears. She has had a tough day. She told Mrs.  R, ‘I am so tired today. I have been working since 7 am in the morning. I made lunch by constantly going back and forth between my room and my kitchen, with my headphones on, trying to keep track of these endless meetings. My daughter had her online school going on for hours. My husband had his work from home going on for hours. My internet connection was just so shaky, and I kept getting disconnected every couple of minutes.

I got free at 9 in the evening! And now our day is over, just like that. Work, work and nothing else.  I am so tired of this pandemic! I wish I could just go to my office and quietly work there, and come back home, on time, and later go out for a nice dinner at my favourite restaurant. That is not going to happen anytime soon, alas…’

And so she went about her rant.

Mrs.  R, calm as always, listened to her.

After Mrs. P had calmed down a little, and asked if she had been over- reacting, Mrs.  R gently said, ‘I understand things are really chaotic these days. I will not tell you that you shouldn’t react this way. I mean, we all are frustrated by the situation and the makeshift arrangements we are all living in. But I think a little reminder could help you. I was a little troubled too last week. I saw the calendar and realised it is Sukkot! It is the Sukkot week now!’

No sooner had Mrs.  R uttered these words, Mrs. P instantly realised what direction Mrs.  R was leading the conversation into. A smile came on her face. Mrs. P, now much calmer, said, ‘I am so happy, no, I am so thankful that you reminded me of this. I feel so much better just remembering to be grateful about the things I have. Sure, it was a bad day, sure, the internet connection is terrible. The work will not end, and I am tired of the monotonous routine. I must cook my own food and I must balance out the chores and my work life. Everything just reminds me how we are living in a pandemic. But I have a house to live in, an internet connection that works as much as it can, I have a wonderful family, all safe and sound. I have a roof over my head, and our kitchen closet is full. I think, the day hasn’t been too bad after all. It is the Sukkot week indeed.’

Mrs.  R and Mrs. P exchanged a knowing glance, virtually of course. Sukkot week reminded them, to be grateful about, all throughout the year.

This week, we bring you some more stories and anecdotes of gratitude. Watch this space for more!