Even Gurdeep Pandher, the Yukon’s Bhangra-dancing Sikh, has had his off days during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I smile on the camera and all that stuff … but your feet, you are deep in the snow,” Pandher told Global News.
Pandher has been a mainstay on social media since last March, when he hosted his first virtual dance class. His online videos have amassed millions of views as well as international media attention.
However, living in a Yukon cabin can be isolating, so he understands those low points.
“You know, we are all people,” he says. “We are humans. We all have that moment. So we get a little reflective and then we feel happy again.”
When Canadians were first thrust into lockdown, the creative juices flowed on how to make light of a terrible situation. There were paint nights and virtual choirs. Baking became a favourite pandemic hobby, with all manner of successes and failures becoming clickbait on Twitter.
And if Zoom wasn’t a household name before, it certainly is now after a year of virtual meetups.
Then, gradually, we got sick of it all. When asked about going into a slump, Torontonians couldn’t agree fast enough.
“Definitely. Totally not doing the Zoom happy hours anymore or drive-by birthdays,” said Teddy Weinstein. “So I think that people got tired of the pseudo-social interaction where people just want the real thing now.”
Nidhi Khanna agreed, adding, “I just can’t be on another Zoom call. I almost refuse. I’m over it, over Zoom.”
Others were more blunt, suggesting the isolation was getting to them.
“You can’t sit in one bed and in (a) bachelor (apartment) watching TV all the time,” said Keith Troutman. “You have a cigarette then you end up smoking all the cigarettes and it’s not good for you.”
Pandher has avoided those pitfalls (he doesn’t smoke so he’s safe there) by committing to getting fresh air and exercise every day. Living in the Yukon wilderness certainly makes that easier, which is why he responds to the thousands of letters from admirers around the world.
Recently he says he received a letter from an American ER doctor who admitted to feeling run down by endless cases of COVID-19. He told Pandher he began watching his videos during breaks to lift his spirits.
“I was really touched to my core and also these type of messages gave a bigger purpose to what I’ve been doing,” he says.
“Like initially I used to think that, ‘Hey, I’m making a happy video and creating smiles on faces.’ Then I realized that it goes beyond that happiness.”
Gurdeep Pandher spreads joy through bhangra