Graduating in lockdown: A story of a student in India

Hey Everybody, I am excited to tell you that I collaborated with Sam who runs the blog onechancetoseetheworld.com. It is a part of ‘Life in Lockdown’ series, aims to provide a glimpse into the lives of people around the world during this pandemic. He has collaborated with several fellow bloggers from across the world.

Namaste! I am Vaishnavi Karnam, a 22-year old Communication Designer who just graduated from college during this worldwide lockdown. I am originally from Hyderabad and Bengaluru, two of the many state capitals of India, though I have been born and brought up in New Delhi, which is India’s capital. Coming from a rich cultural background from Southern India, my parents made sure my brother and I know our lineage, roots and our native language. Having said this, I am multi-lingual.

Being an elder child, I have always been given a lot of responsibility. But I have had my moments of being a brat and trying to do what I wanted to do. Also, making sure that I did things that I was expected to. I am not only my dad’s little girl, but I am close to my mom as well. My puppy dog eyes are irresistible and always works for me when it comes to my parents. Even though I was pampered a little bit, but I was also made to learn the hardships of life.

Since I was a kid, I have tried my hand at whatever was available to me. Starting from art, craft to music, dance and even sports. Oh, baking and reading too! You can say I am the jack of all trades and master of some. Not ‘none’! I have always had multiple interests, and I made sure to keep trying out new things as and when possible. One such thing that caught my attention and stuck with me amongst a few others is travelling. I have grown up looking at pictures and listening to my dad’s stories from when he used to travel for work. Listening to those stories kept me at the edge of the seat no matter how many times I heard them. It made me want to have some of my own stories like that, to feel that adrenaline rush every single time. That’s how my love for travelling started and, during one of my internships, I discovered my inclination to write. This gave birth, more like helped me to begin my blog. I write about food, travel experiences and sometimes life lessons as well.

When it came to choosing a career path, I was sure that I wanted to do something different from what anyone’s done in my family. A lot of parents in India pre-decide what course their child should pursue in school or college, mine never forced me into anything I didn’t want to do. From planning to study psychology when I started high school to then changing my mind and finally graduating as a Communication Designer, it has been quite a journey. All throughout college, one thing that my friends and I were looking forward to was an extraordinary graduation showcase and a memorable farewell. After all, we were going to start a new phase of our lives. I definitely didn’t expect 2020 to go like this. Like everyone else, I also thought 2020 was going to be my year. I was supposed to start the next phase of my life. I still would be taking the next step, but in a much different way than expected.

Never had I thought for COVID-19 to spread and become a pandemic leading to a lockdown almost everywhere in the world. Considering that I graduated not too long ago, I had about 2-3 months left for my college life to get over. I was hoping to have fun with my friends, peers and faculty in the college, having the most wonderful last few days of college that was left. Every plan I had went down the drain. I was sitting at home, either working on my graduation project, giving presentations online, which is nowhere near to the actual experience. I was usually found dancing and singing at celebrations in college, hanging out with friends, lounging in our studios, travelling and making memories that would last a lifetime.  I was never a social butterfly, but I have had my fair share of memories from my college life. Now, I can only imagine what I would have been doing in the past few months if we weren’t confined to our homes due to the pandemic. At this moment, we are planning what we can do once all of this is over, but we can only hope that it actually happens.

A week before the lockdown was announced, I was travelling for my graduation project in the mountains in northern India. This trip I took was preponed at the last moment; otherwise, there was quite a lot of chances that I would have got stuck at an unknown destination with hardly 3-4 pairs of clothes. I was lucky enough for my plans changing at the last minute. Though I am happy that I was back home right on time, unlike my friend who is stuck in an unknown town in Rajasthan (I feel so bad for him). Being a restless soul and staying at home 24/7 wasn’t really turning out the best for me. I was used to staying out of my house for at least 10-11 hours a day, and suddenly it went down to zero. Coping up to this change was tricky, trying to adjust to the new routine all of a sudden. We are a family of four, and I can say for sure that this is the first time that all of us have to stay under one roof for so long without stepping out at all. We had to adjust to each other’s new routine as a family. It was quite hilarious actually. Initially, it was challenging for me to keep sane, but then I tried small activities to help me adjust to this new routine. The first few days, I used to go to the terrace to look at the sunset and walk around a bit. Never had I seen so many people on their terraces. With nowhere else to go, that was the only escape.

Though when I am talking about what I used to do before COVID-19 struck, I feel like I am talking about a different life altogether. A life before taking multiple precautions to step out of the house and terrible news reaching us every day. There are some things that I used to do daily and miss doing it now. I miss the peak hour rush in the metros, booking a cab or bargaining with auto drivers, chilling at my favourite cafes and exploring Delhi even after staying in this city all my life. One thing I miss the most is eating out, especially Indian street food. It’s to die for.

I had a plan, to graduate college, travel and explore a new destination with my brother, get a job at a different city, move there and start fresh. I have always lived with my parents, except for a few years in between where I moved out to be closer to college. I was excited and hoping for a change. With the pandemic hitting us all, there have been so many changes all of a sudden. With employees being laid off left and right, hiring has definitely come to a freeze. The dream of getting the ideal job I had hoped for has been crushed. Sort of. The chances are quite low, considering the numerous people who are now in the market trying to look for new jobs. Though I am not giving up hope to find the perfect job for me, it is still scary when I think about it.

Now that I am free, I am trying to catch up on writing, reading, helping my mum with household chores and cooking. What I do whenever I have the time mostly depends on my mood. There are days when I only feel like binge-watching a show, texting my friends or just chilling in our house cribbing about when I’d get to go out. Video calls, virtual collaborations, Instagram stories of our routine, Tik Toks are now the latest trend.

I sometimes wonder what if Covid-19 hadn’t become such a vital matter, what if things were different, but it’s just left to what if. We can only dream or imagine what the scenario would be but cannot actually know. I know that with a nationwide lockdown in India, there have been positive implications. Pollution levels have really gone down, natural habitat is getting better, less traffic on the roads and we are spending more time with family. But did we really need something severe to affect us to make out lives slow down? Life has given us time to make things better, take time out for things we stopped doing because we never had the time, but did it have to be after putting so many lives at stake? I am trying to think positive, hoping that we all get out of this safe and sound, but I sometimes fear what else could happen, which might make things worse.

Well, that’s just me. I hope all of you are keeping safe and are doing well. I just hope one day, things will get back to normal and life will be better again. Until then, let’s hope for the best and stay healthy!

Link to Sam’s Blog

I am delighted to introduce Vaishnavi, bringing an insight from India on the current lockdown situation for herself and her life as a student. Vaishnavi has a great blog of art, photography, food and travel (safe to say it is four of my favourite things!) and I appreciate being able to share her story on…

Graduating in lockdown: A story of a student in India — One Chance to See the World

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