Here we are, at the end of a year and a decade. Through the nationwide lockdown, running around for essentials, work-school-restaurants from home, attending meeting in jammies, muting and unmuting with one hand, and stirring the curry with the other.
Australian bushfires. Locust attack. Losing Irrfan Khan almost felt like a personal loss. Wakanda lost its king. Gianna and Kobe Bryant left us too.
If you’re reading this after a corona coaster this year has turned out to be, there’s one reason to be grateful for : that we made it through alive, with our loved ones. As we start counting, we find not one but 20 reasons which make us thank our stars and remember the year by.
1. SpaceX Launches the Crew Dragon, the first privately owned and operated spacecraft
Space echoes infinite possibilities. Moreso in the COVID times, when our resilience was tested more than ever, Elon Musk’s SpaceX became the first private space company to launch a two manned mission, aboard the Crew Dragon Spacecraft. The two NASA astronauts, Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken left the earth on May 30th 2020 and returned on August 2nd 2020.
Sky is truly the limit, eh?
2. IPL was played in Dubai under bio-bubble
With the increasing COVID cases in India, the IPL venue was shifted to Dubai, where India’s grand cricket show, was showcased entirely in a sanitised environment. Right from being tested before entering the isolated environment to moving in isolated groups from one bio bubble to another, every single movement of every player and staff was being tracked with electronic devices. Our teams were game and how! The 80 days tournament tested the mental strength of every player, all for the sport and their fans. We can especially hear the Mumbai Indians cheering on!
3. Machu Picchu and Taj Mahal reopened the closed gates of tourism
While our travel plans were shelved for this year, the Wonders of the World: Taj Mahal and Machu Picchu were no exceptions. However, the tourism industry got up and about to ensure that these gems didn’t remain hidden from the public eye. In fact, they reopened their gates to the crowd with grandeur and publicity. After 6 and 8 months of closure respectively, the Taj Mahal and Machu Picchu drew the waiting line in. While the Peruvian authorities held an Incan ritual, Taj Mahal started ticketing online. Such is the beauty of adapting!
4. Dalai Lama released his mantras as a musical album, titled Inner World
We needed a lot of healing and hope to hold on to this year. Our prayers were answered by the spiritual leader Dalai Lam, as he sent in a message full of hope, healing and compassion through his album Inner World, which he released on his 85th birthday on July 6th. The album is made up of 11 tracks to which the leader recites sacred mantras to the tune of 30 accompanying instruments. “Music has the potential to reach many more people with the message that the real source of happiness is warm-heartedness and a concern for others.
5. Be Water : A documentary based on Bruce Lee was released
Be water, my friend. If these words ring a bell in your mind, this philosophy was exemplified by Bruce Lee, martial arts stalwart. Despite being rejected by Hollywood in his former years, this fighter picked his battles and rose to fame with hard work and determination. Even though he died a quick death, he is revered for his agile mind and body. It’s the legacy he left behind that inspired ESPN to release a documentary titled Be Water based on his hardships and challenges for his fans to watch.
6. 75th anniversary of end of World War II
On May 8th 1945, Germany dropped its arms in surrender demarcating the end of one of the most gruesome wars in history, World War II. The celebrations of the 75th anniversary went digital with the National War Museum paying homage to war veterans and opened various learning opportunities online for those interested to know its history. Through a series of distance learning programs, articles, featured artifacts, a new podcast series, and video content featuring scholars, this unique opportunity in itself honours those who gave their lives for freedom
7. F.R.I.E.N.D.S. : The One where we complete 25 years
“I’ll be there for you.” These 6 have, through the thick and the thin for the last 25 years. Be it us picking up Monica’s organisational skills to redo our homes, or Chandler’s sarcasm bringing us comic relief, or Joey not giving his share of food, Central Perk has been our screen hangout for 25 years. Well, 2020 threw us under the bus, and like Phoebe we didn’t have a pla. But we’ve got one, get your friends together and binge watch the nostalgia and decide for yourselves if Ross and Rachel were on a break!
8. Birth centenary of PV Narasimha Rao
Educationist, freedom fighter, literary figure and India’s 9th Prime Minister P V Narasimha Rao’s birth centenary was celebrated on June 8th. This day marked the beginning of a year long celebration by Telangana State Government. He also brought economic reforms in India putting India on the global map. It is an honour indeed to be led by such leaders.
9. Mask Parotta from Madurai gives out the social distancing awareness
We have all known that one “COVID-iot” who refuses to wear a mask even when it harms the others. This tiny eatery from Madurai gives it back in a subtle yet creative manner. They introduced an interesting delicacy in their menu : parottas that are folded in shape of a real mask and fried until crisp. Priced at 50 rupees each, the parottas from this particular eatery near Maattuthavani bus terminus, took the internet by storm. In fact they even introduced a pandemic themed menu with dishes like Corona Rava Dosa and Corona Bonda.
10. The batches of 2020 which graduated on MINECRAFT
There is nothing stopping the batch of 2020 to celebrate an earned degree after years of studies. Nope, not even the pandemic. Students from universities like Stanford, MIT, Pennsylvania and the likes created a unique Quranteen University on Minecraft, to rebuild college campuses to host graduation ceremonies online. In addition to rebuilding their school campuses in Minecraft, students and educators have also hosted proms, graduation ceremonies, and even teacher meet-ups in-game. This student led initiative is proof of what the creativity and the powerful collaboration students brings, which we too at QShala value so strongly!
11. Burj Khalifa stood tall as the largest donation box
The world’s tallest 828 metre building, Burj Khalifa rose tall to the occasion of raising money for those affected by the pandemic. It pledged to sell its lights, to buy meals for those severely affected by the pandemic. Each of the tower’s 1.2 million external lights was ‘sold’ for 10 dirhams ($2.70), enough to buy one meal. The glowing donation box funded 1.2 million meals!
12. Australian Open apparel made from recycled plastic at Tirupur
The ball kids at the Australian Open wore apparel made from 100% recycled polyester made from PET bottles. A cloth store in Tirupur supplied 25,000 garments! Talk about sustainable fashion making its way and here to stay.
13. South Korean movie Parasite creates history by winning the best picture at The Oscars
The South Korean movie becomes the first non English movie to sweep the Oscars for the best picture. The director Bong Joon-ho was awarded the prize for best director, and also took the best original screenplay award. The film highlights the social divide and the parasitic ways of take over from rags to riches.
14. The Great Conjunction
On December 21st, In a rare celestial show, Jupiter and Saturn were closer to each other than they had in the last 800 years! These gas giants looked like bright stars to us Earthlings through our DSLRs and telescopes. The planets haven’t appeared this close since 1623. With Christmas round the corner, it was the perfect Christmas star in the night sky.
15. Black Lives Matter became the biggest mass movement in history.
The inhumane killing of George Floyd sparked mass protests across the USA where citizens took to street protests and demonstrations against racial discrimination. On June 6th, it was a moment in history to behold when half a million protesters showed up in 550 places across the country with masks and social distancing.
16. Megxit : Meghan Markle and Prince Harry stepped down from the Royal Family
Yet another unprecedented moment in history which took place this year is when Meghan Markle and Prince Harry would step down from their roles as Duchess and Duke of Sussex. They said they would divide their time between UK and North America as they claimed they would become financially independent. This grand and unexpected exit gave rise to the portmanteau “Megxit”, which also is one of the top 2020 words as enlisted by the Collin’s Dictionary
17. 4 Female Nobel Prize Winners in 2020
Women have innate leadership skills and for the ones who need more evidence than what they see and know around them, 2020 has been the year. These 4 women, veterans in their field, shattered the glass ceiling with grace. With Louise Glück for Literature , Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer A. Doudna sharing the award for Chemistry and Andrea M. Ghez for Physics, these laureates have broken the previously poorly held record of only less than 60 women holding this honour since 1895.
18. Kamala Harris becomes the first female Vice President of USA
Speaking of shattering glass ceilings, Kamala Harris became first America’s first woman vice president, making historic moment not just for women in leadership roles and the triumph of democracy. Emerging as Joe Biden’s right hand, the Chennai based attorney also becomes the first person of Indian descent to hold the national office in the United States.
“But while I may be the first woman in this office, I won’t be the last.
Because every little girl watching tonight sees that this is a country of possibilities.
– Kamala Harris
19. New Zealand became the world’s most COVID-resilient country
20. Gitanjali Rao becomes Times Kid of the Year
15 year old Indian American Gitanjali Rao made it to the cover of Times as Kid of the year, being the first out of over 5000 nominees to be the first in this category.
”Observe, brainstorm, research, build and communicate.” is the design thinking process the young scientist and inventor Gitanjali Rao shared. She wants to use technology to tackle issues ranging from drinking water contamination to opioid addiction and cyberbullying”. She created an antibullying app called “Kindly” to counter the increase in cyberbullying. Her mission is to create a global community of young innovators to solve problems the world over.
She leaves us with an inspiring message to other young people:
“Don’t try to fix every problem, just focus on one that excites you. If I can do it,” she said, “anybody can do it.”
With so much that has happened, it is easy to lose sight of the good. With these moments and events of hope, we at QShala step into 2021 with renewed gratitude and spirits. Here’s to another year of love for learning at QShala!