Lockdown Diaries Part 1

First published in Sanctuary Asia, Vol. 40 No. 5, May 2020

Sanctuary asked conservationists from different areas of work (researchers, writers, photographers and filmmakers) how the COVID-19 lockdown has impacted them and their work and how they are advocating for wildlife and the environment while staying indoors. In the first of our series, wildlife filmmaker and founder of Pangea Films Eshika Fyzee, tells us of how she is using her time to wrap up long-pending work and furthering her educational interests.

Sanctuary: How are you managing to divide your time between work and home, and staying productive, while also focusing on your mental health?

Eshika: As a wildlife filmmaker, COVID-19 has brought unprecedented challenges for me and my colleagues in this field. The ‘work from home’ routine doesn't typically apply to us, and many of us have had to deal with cancellations of shoots and indefinite postponing of projects. Most wildlife filmmakers in India are also freelance, and don't have the security of monthly/quarterly paychecks to keep things going. Having said that, I have been trying to finish up paperwork that I've been putting off for weeks, finishing old storyboards and shooting scripts that have been pending, and trying my best to plan out my shoots for when the country opens up. I'm also pursuing a postgraduate diploma on wildlife and animal protection law, so I've been spending quite a lot of time studying. In regard to my mental health, I've been keeping sane by meditating, catching up on reading, exercising, not checking the news excessively, and sketching. 


Eshika shared some of her sketches with us.

Sanctuary: How are you translating your work to move completely online? Especially your more outdoorsy work; have you found a way to do something similar or different virtually?

Eshika: It's been very challenging because my job is primarily all about travel, movement, collaboration, and being out in the wilderness. I haven't found a virtual alternative to my work, but I have been active virtually by connecting and networking more with other conservationists and wildlife filmmakers, as we all try to support each other through these difficult times. 

Sanctuary: What are some old habits you've lost after the lockdown began and new habits you've gained (these can be work-related or otherwise)? Can you share some that you've found particularly useful in helping overcome personal obstacles?

Eshika: To be fair, my life was extremely busy and fast-paced before the lockdown, I barely spent five days at a stretch at home, and took an embarrassing number of flights every month to get my work done. One thing I'm very glad about is that my carbon footprint has plummeted drastically because of the lockdown, which has made me think of ways to reduce flying as much as possible in the future, even if it takes a little longer and a little more effort to get to my destination. In terms of new habits -- I've started meditating again which helps me tremendously, studying for my law diploma on wildlife/animal protection, and for the first time in a very long time, I've had the opportunity to slow down a little and get back to some of my old hobbies.

Interviewed by Divya Kilikar

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