Professor Mischa Dohler
The Covid crisis became very real when friends of our family lost a 30-year-old healthy choir member within days of showing symptoms. What was very hypothetical and taking place in far hospitals, suddenly moved next door. It’s fair to say, we were all scared.
And over the weeks and months, lockdown was not becoming easier. We just all got used to the situation of being indoors, constantly covering our faces when shopping and desperately waiting for the King’s Covid test kit to arrive.
And yet, the crisis was a blessing!
I cannot remember when I last spent so much quality time with my family - my wife and two teenage daughters. The last months were magical for our family, with loads of joint activities, laughter and happy moments. Simba, our dog, was of course at centre stage.
I understood very early that the only way to survive the lockdown was to impose a household routine, which we have carried out with an iron persistence every day. 7am wake up was followed by sports, then breakfast, then piano for Noa and arts for Dalia, followed by work for the parents and e-homework for the kids, joint cooking, and much more.
The other magic happened with my King’s work. I call it now the “proximity paradox”: Whilst physically separated by force, we grew closer as a community via frequent online meetings. I have met so many new and wonderful colleagues at NMS (the Faculty of Natural and Mathematical Sciences), and even in the Engineering Department, which I have had no or very little contact with before. We all worked towards a common goal, i.e. make the educational experience for incoming student cohorts likable, even if taught through videos and online exercises.
And I have taken the opportunity to schedule in a regular Friday afternoon “hang-out” with my PhD students. We are allowed to talk about all, but work. As a result we are having the most amazing conversations about life and the universe, and I am learning new things about my students (and they about me) every time. It is a tradition I will keep, even if lockdown disappears.
Generally, the work efficiency has gone up significantly. I am lucky to have kids who can work on their own when they need to, and a fairly big house with a garden; so, the working environment is perfect. No need to do 2.5h commutes anymore! Create, innovate, research, trouble shoot and do media interviews – all from my green garden.
Whilst life has become tougher for many, the world has not stopped. I do wonder if humanity really needs all that buzzing and stressing out, or if this is our moment to step out of our “entropy-of-life wheel” and concentrate on solving issues which are important to humanity, society and the earth. I have some ideas...
Photo: Recording in my “green room” for our King’s College London online module delivery.