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  • Writer's pictureShriya Malhotra

Notes on Plural Temporality

COVID-19 was fascinating but also distressing for the ways in which it rapidly dissolved most concepts of time. Past, present and future became an amalgamation held together by a sustained and collective panic. Day and night became the distinctions of a comforting predictability in terms of one's continued existence, softening the imposed divisions and schedules people were used to. In Delhi, as the virus spread, non-existing systems collapsed upon themselves and people. The quest for survival became almost cut throat: everyone against one another, and at all costs. 

The ways in which time became irrelevant was sadly temporary. It slowly collapsed from being a liminal state in to one of  urgency,  finally morphing into a hysterical frenzy.  Unless an emergency, many of the irrelevant standards were done away with: getting to work on time, reaching the bus on time, calculating the most efficient commutes, or showing up at social engagements.

Survival was urgent, but not in any particular denominations. Time became much more fluid, and while the world seemed to pause for a second, time continued to flow. The rigidity of imposed time is sadly, slowly returning. The pandemic has also highlighted what seems to be a networked architecture or infrastructure for observing, archiving and communicating time. Who owns this information remains a bigger concern.

This multidimensionality is rooted in a specific, and contextualised cartography. Rediscovering these real textures of time make it feel tactile, as opposed to its often stressful digital representations. In the same ways that digital space feels flattened, so does the digitised experience of reading time on digital information facades. Particularly when it glitches, and the train numbers are wrong. And the only people who know what's going on are the street vendors whose eyes are more reliable on the platform.


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