The nature of my work takes me to many destinations of the world, and as a UI/UX practitioner, the sum of my experiences is what makes me, what pushes me and mostly what inspires me. This time my travels took me to a two-month stint in San Francisco, a city famed for a thriving IT community, scenic vistas and eclectic architecture. But this blog is not about my time in SanFran, there are plenty of travel blogs out there that would do justice to the city, this one is about how I tried to get out!
I’ll bet you’re reading this from the comfort of your own home, cozy and comfortable with the only nuisance being an unruly pet or the slight inconvenience of having to prepare all your meals without the choice of picking up the phone and ordering from your nearest deli. Would you, a month ago imagine a life where sitting in the confines of your home on a weekday and taking work calls in your pajamas would become the norm? To me, the COVID-19 pandemic has taught me, above all else, that nothing is certain.
This uncertainty began around February. It all started with a weak trickle of news from sources stating that there was a virus strain that went rogue in the Far East. Surely, news to worry about but still far enough for comfort. But like every good Hollywood action movie, the trickle turned into a flood, with frazzled news anchors trying to communicate the calamity that threatened to mar normalcy and at the same time ensure that people do not panic. But panic, they did! From hoarding essentials to trying to self-medicate and of course, begrudgingly forcing themselves to kiss that planned vacation goodbye. And I, in the midst of it all trying desperately to get back to my home in Bangalore.
There weren’t many options, with flight tickets being cancelled and at the same time, people trying to scramble back home, my only choice was to fly through Europe. This worried me immensely since there were far too many rules and regulations that differed from what I was used to, moreover the idea of being quarantined midway was not the most palatable thought.
Meanwhile, a bevy of calls from friends and family urging me to get home as soon as possible, coupled with the foreboding silence caused by empty streets created a sense of panic within me. I was desperate to get back home.
It was at this moment when the words of our COO, Raghurama Kote soothed my fears and assured me that Opteamix would do their best to get me back home as soon as possible. I communicated my fears about flying via Europe and was assured that if there was a way to avoid a layover, it would be done. Sure enough, a few hours later, armed with my hastily packed suitcase and a boarding card, I was on my way on a direct flight back to India.
What awaited me at the International airport in Bangalore, was chaos. Long lines at the immigration counter, haphazard medical checks and disgruntled airport staff struggling to manage the chaos, all while making feeble attempts at maintaining social distancing. Unaware of what lies beyond the exit gates, I made my way to my cab and braved traffic all the way to my home. I was greeted by my very relieved wife, who promptly readied me for a 14-day self-imposed quarantine. Now at this point in my story, you can sense my consternation at what I thought would be a relaxing end to my harrowing journey. Instead, I was kept in isolation for 14 days, restricted from meeting friends and the unbearable pain of not being able to see my daughter since she was at her grandmother’s home.
Days passed by slowly with the promise that it would be over soon, the light at the end of the tunnel shone on deserved reunions, a normal day at work and maybe a few get-togethers that would make up for the lost time. I had done my time, and I had the indelible ink of the BBMP medical official’s stamp on my arm to prove it – ‘Home Quarantined’ it read. A few more days and I would be free to do as I pleased – Alas, I was greeted with the inescapable news that COVID-19 was nowhere close to backing down and had turned into a full-blown pandemic forcing the Indian government and governments around the world to enforce a nation-wide lockdown. Once again, I found myself embroiled in a situation I had no control over and it continues as I write this piece, the lockdown is now in its fourth stretch with no end in sight.
Each day the count of the infected rises, we are inundated with cure-all remedies and are on the constant lookout for better days ahead. In all this and in the rendition of my story, what stands out the most as I see it, is the unfailing support I received from Opteamix. It started with them pulling out all stops to get me out of a tough spot and continues in the way they tackle the COVID-19 situation overall and in their daily practices. Our leadership team swung into action, putting policies in place that made sure we were equipped to start WFH as soon as possible, without causing any delays in deliverables. Our People Practice team goes the extra mile daily to ensure all our colleagues and their families are well taken care of, our CSR team huddles up volunteers to provide food for the needy in communities across Bangalore and we continue to thrive amidst the chaos caused by COVID-19.
As I write this and as we continue to stay strong, healthy and positive as an organisation, there is one thought that summarizes Opteamix and continues to ring true – “ ‘Management’ is doing things right but ‘Leadership’ is doing the right things.”