More on the Covid-19 pandemic

As chairman and managing director of Al Adil Trading, Dhananjay Datar used to lead an extremely busy life. Having expanded his family business across the UAE and in almost all the neighbouring nations, Dhananjay used to travel extensively to source foodstuff for the company. But the current pandemic has changed that all. It has not just compelled him to hit the pause button but has forced him to explore his spiritual side. He tells Friday how his perspective towards life and his priorities has changed.

Since when have you been working from home? And please tell us the number of family members who are at home with you.

My family, which includes my wife Vandana and my sons Hrishikesh and Rohit, and I have been working from home for the past fortnight. While my wife looks after the financial aspects of the business, my elder son manages international trade and legal matters and the younger one is in charge of sourcing and procurement.

What are some of the biggest challenges you have been faced with while working from home?

It is difficult to do work effectively when you are working from home. Working in an office is like watching a movie in a theatre – no one talks, no looking at your phone, no distractions. You are totally focused on your work. But it is not the same when you are working from home.

How difficult was it to adjust to this new reality?

It usually comes in waves, mostly I can distract myself from what is happening outside by doing something that I like. But once you switch on the TV and surf through the news channels and watch how lives across the world have been affected, it becomes difficult to accept this new reality.

How are you and your family spending time? Favourite activities that you enjoy doing together. Exercise routine

As far as exercise routine is concerned, my family and I do an hour of meditation every day, followed by an hour walking on the treadmill. This routine has helped us improve our mental and physical health. My wife loves gardening. While her otherwise busy work schedule did not give her enough time, she is now enjoying her time with her plants.

What are you and your family doing to manage the anxiety that is stemming from the pandemic?

We make sure that we spend one hour in the living room at night just talking with one another. The only rule is that we will not discuss what’s happening outside. So from science fiction to politics and history, we enjoy sharing our points of view with each other.

What are some of the things you miss from your life when Covid 19 had still not affected us?

I really enjoyed watching movies in theatre, meeting with my friends, going to malls, travelling to exotics locations and India. I really miss this all.

What will be the first thing you’d like to do once this scare of Covid 19 is over?

Get a haircut.

What have you learnt about yourself during this trying time?

I have learnt to take care of my physical and mental health, something that I used to neglect earlier. It has helped us remain stress free during this time.

What will be your favourite memory from this experience, something you’d perhaps like to share with your grandkids one day?

I would want to tell my grandchildren about how this world is not as cruel as it’s made out to be. Whether it is the love and respect people have shown for healthcare providers who are risking their own lives to care for the ill, the elderly or for the police forces who are ensuring the safety of the community, this experience has shown that we are still humane. It has also brought us closer as a family as well as a community.

One lesson you think the world should remember from this experience.

There are innumerable reports of how pollution levels in several cities have been drastically reduced and the wildlife that had almost disappeared from cities is gradually coming back. It feels as if Mother Earth has experienced a weight being lifted from her shoulders and we have been given fresh air again. I hope, after this dramatic change, we start taking the climate scientists more seriously and do something about our excessive use fossil fuel and the pollution it causes.