Making Pizza - Neya Patel

Reconnecting with Lost Friends During the Covid-19 Pandemic

This new normal turned out to be more fun than I had imagined.
United Kingdom, Northern Europe

Story by Neya Patel. Edited by Melaina Dyck
Published on November 1, 2020. Reading time: 4 minutes

This story is also available in cn tw



Six months into the Covid-19 pandemic in the United Kingdom (UK), I remain fascinated by the ever-changing world I live in. I think back to one evening in February. I sat around my friend’s dinner table discussing our upcoming trips: Ibiza, the Cayman Islands, and Canada. My friend had recently returned from China and informed us about the outbreak — I was shocked by the death toll in Wuhan. I never imagined that Covid-19 would come to the UK, and I never pictured not being able to hug my family and friends.

One month later, this became a harsh reality. Boris Johnson implemented a lockdown of the UK.[1] He commanded us to stay at home and comply with social distancing guidelines. I was surprised: my once-normal life turned into a strange unknown. I, like many others, found myself experiencing a lot of stress during the initial stages of lockdown. On top of this, I worried about my friends and family. Before the virus entered the UK, I lived a busy life and I was constantly bombarded with limitless information from my social world and career.

The virus transformed my outlook and redefined what I deem ‘essential’. The new rules forbade us from meeting friends and relatives, so I found a new form of communication: the weekly Zoom calls! Here, I reconnected with friends from across the globe with whom I had lost touch. These calls included weekly quiz games, birthday celebrations, and karaoke nights (despite my terrible singing). One afternoon, I had a beach-themed Zoom party: I ate food from the barbecue and conversed with my friends online. This new normal turned out to be more fun than I had imagined. Gone were the days of Zoom calls primarily being used for conferences; a new ordinary had emerged.

In June, six-person gatherings within a 2-metre distance became permitted.[2] My Zoom-formed friend group embraced this challenge and ran with a ‘Come Dine with Me’-inspired event.[3] Each friend hosted a dinner party once a week in their garden with a different world-cuisine. My Mediterranean-themed dinner party included a range of dishes from tapas to baklava. We creatively sourced weekly entertainment to accompany the dining, including bingo and piñatas. Initially, I was apprehensive about reuniting with my friends again. I was excited to see them, but I feared I would be socially awkward. Thankfully, my friends felt the same — we had nothing to worry about. Social distancing was less challenging than I had previously thought. I sat 2-metres-apart from everyone and probably overdid it with the hand-sanitiser!

The pandemic has allowed me to maintain, grow, and create friendships, and broadened my taste buds. I have been taken out of my comfort zone and have adapted to this novel way of life. In years to come,

I will look back on the extraordinary year of 2020. I will not only remember it for the devastation of the pandemic, but also for how it allowed me to reconnect with lost friends. I may not be able to hug my family and friends, but I have not lost hope. I pray this continued sense of solidarity and connectedness flourishes well beyond these unprecedented times.


Footnotes

[1] Boris Johnson is the British Prime Minister. Prime Minister's statement on coronavirus (COVID-19): 23 March 2020 from: https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/pm-address-to-the-nation-on-coronavirus-23-march-2020

[2] Coronavirus: Gatherings of six people allowed from 1 June from: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/uk-52841999/coronavirus-gatherings-of-six-people-allowed-from-1-june

[3] ‘Come Dine with Me’ is a British TV show, where four strangers take turns hosting a dinner party for their fellow contestants, who give points based on food and overall experience.


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Neya Patel

Neya Patel

Hi! I am a 23-year-old psychology graduate from the United Kingdom. I have a strong interest in human rights and the ever-changing world we now live in. I love meeting new people, experiencing different cultures and travelling to exotic destinations around the world.

Topic: Coronavirus




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