Lessons Learnt, Memories Cherished, and Mindfulness: A Lockdown Story | Pune | Wade Asia Special | Women Architects

Deepa Kothari

The coronavirus pandemic impacted India on March 2020 and completely changed lives moving forward. Whatever we took for granted, and all the planning that we had made for the year itself had to be changed. Multiple lockdowns of varying degrees led to people staying within the confines of their homes, to deal with different family matters which they could have avoided before. Mentally, it was a challenge for each and every individual in different ways. Of course, each of us have a different perspective when we look back on those few months, where we missed seeing our friends and family, and were nostalgic for the times we spent and took our freedom for granted. There are others who could have gone through tremendous mental trauma and come out of the other side with stories to tell, and lessons learnt. Deepa Kothari is one such person. A well-established architect residing in Pune, Maharashtra, she shared with SURFACES REPORTER (SR) her story how she had to deal with bouts of depression amidst the financial and personal problems triggered with the lockdown. This story is a part of SR's campaign in association with WADE ASIA where we invited women in Design to share their inspiring stories from 2020. 

Also Read: Lets Find Out How This Lady Architect Managed to Grow Her New Venture in This Tough Pandemic Period

Battling Mental Trauma

Deepa had to return to her hometown during that difficult phase, as she struggled with completing her work on time and managing to find new projects.

“I went into depression with no work, no money left”, said Deepa.

However, Deepa is a born fighter. She had fought her way to get into the architecture profession, especially with all the difficulties of hailing from a small town in Madhya Pradesh. Her family was not in the optimum financial condition, as she continued to wade through the trials and tribulations that often accompany the culture shock of shifting to a new metropolitan city. She knew that the only way that she could survive in a comparatively expensive city such as Pune was to start earning immediately. It was definitely not easy, as Deepa had to face difficulties at work as well.

“I used to get Rs 7000 per month. The timings were 9 to 7”, said Deepa, as she recounted her first experience of the professional life as a junior architect in 2017. She had to complete overtime on a daily basis, and was not paid for her efforts either. Moreover, the only form of transport that she could afford at the time was public transport, and she had to travel 40kms every day in order to earn a living.

Deepa also experienced the problems of being a fresher in the architect profession, as the work hours were quite rigorous and the pay package was barely enough to sustain herself. Seeing this, she changed her job to another which paid her slightly better at Rs. 11000 per month.

Also Read:  Roti and Makaan; How this woman turned it into her passion

A Desire for Betterment

Even with a change in job and a rise in pay, she knew that this would not help her live a better life in Pune, where the average expenditure of people is much higher on a monthly basis. Deepa understood that she would have to supplement her income through freelancing for various projects. Fortunately, a few of the projects that she worked on did well for her reputation as an architect. This allowed her to expand her client base into different cities such as Indore and Ahmedabad.

Shortly after Deepa tasted the wonderful side of success, the lockdown was imposed in the country. Once again, she had to go through tremendous struggle to sustain herself with a severe lack of food. Throughout the month of May, she sustained herself on one meal a day, due to her financial restraints.

After this, she had to return to her hometown, where she’s been living ever since.

Also Read: This Woman Proved How Staying Positive Through Difficult Times Makes You Shine

Deepa is now working from home, on a few projects which she received during the lockdown. It’s been a difficult journey so far, with her having to adjust to multiple changes in a very short span of time. She worked through and despite of her depressive phases, and continues to keep a positive outlook towards her life.

Hoping for a better future, Deepa says, “I will never give up, that’s all I know”. She continues to fight her everyday issues as well as finding means to better her predicament, both mentally and physically.

She considers her “restless soul” as her edge, as she wades through the numerous issues plaguing her life at this stage.

Providing Inspiration Through Her Struggles

Deepa Kothari’s story is one of many, who have had the opportunity to voice their difficulties in these troubled times. With Deepa, her fighting spirit shines a beacon of light for people who are searching for a bit of inspiration. Regardless of how many failures she had to go through, Deepa counts her blessings and remembers the sweet memories that her success has given her.

She knows that she has to work in order to reach that state of mind once again; for which she is willing to put in the work that’s needed.

We need to look at Deepa Kothari’s difficulties and remind ourselves of how lucky we may be; how passion, hard work, dedication, and drive can help us through even in the worst of times.

Keep reading SURFACES REPORTER for more such articles and stories.

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You may also like to read about:

Spaces to Breathe: Finding Success Through the Pandemic

Success & Survival: How A Women Dared To Grow In The Lockdown

The Green Heart: An Architect Who Dared To Care

And more…


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