Published: 03rd April 2020
This website by two young professionals in Kolkata is creating hope in the 'Times of Corona'. Here's how
The website 'The Times of Corona' was launched recently by two youngsters in Kolkata. The platform aims to create, educate, share and empathise in the time of distress
While people are being asked to stay at their homes owing to the Coronavirus lockdown, there's also a rising concern of mental wellbeing among individuals, as there is no means of social interaction or venturing out apart from the virtual world of the internet. To create a tad bit of hope amidst distress and to help people share their thoughts, two young professionals from Kolkata have come up with a website that allows anyone to share their opinions, thoughts, artwork, poems and stories with the world.
The website The Times of Corona was launched recently by Saptaparni Sadhu and Ritwik Balo. The platform aims to create, educate, share and empathise. "At such times of extreme tumult, it will act as a ray of hope and something to cling to. We aim to curate thoughts and opinions revolving around the pandemic," says Saptaparni, who works full-time as a content editor for a private firm in the city.
She tells us how the website was born out of random conversations on WhatsApp. "We set up the website about 15 to 20 days ago. My friend Ritwik kept on sending WhatsApp messages and WHO directives about the virus and they were all extremely informative. I had casually suggested that we can start a website with the amount of information we had garnered. That's all it took, we soon purchased a domain and hosted the site. Ritwik has experience in the backend work of websites so it was not that difficult to begin. The first thing that we did was collating the information that we had received through various sources. But then we thought that we could also post original content for the website for it to perform better," adds Saptaparni.
The first original article they put up on the website was about the basic Coronavirus prevention tips and then began sharing it gradually with friends and colleagues. "Soon after that, one of my university friends said that they also wanted to contribute, help with the editing and that's how our plan solidified. We are getting a lot of responses and we are also writing ourselves," says Saptaparni.
The founders are also doing what they can to collate information about various mental health groups, donation drives, sanitiser making groups and more on their website. "We recently received an article about how people are going up to their terraces now that they are stuck at home. I feel such contents are relatable and give you a sense of belonging in a community amid this tumultuous time. I had also written one about online board games and how people are playing them more now, which had a decent number of views," exclaims Saptaparni. The duo recently set up an Instagram page, a Facebook page and a Twitter account to promote their website and gain more traction.
Speaking about how they are managing their regular jobs and the website, Saptaparni says, "We don't have a specific time set for the website work, it comes from within. This is an excuse for all of us to write more. I was a literature student and I missed writing, this has helped me gain back my confidence. Typically, it takes me two hours to commute every day to work which isn't an issue now, so I have a lot of time on my hands to focus on this."
Ritwik, the other founder, is an assistant professor at a college in Kolkata, who is also working from home and handling the backend work for the website. The duo recently got one of their other friends, Sritama Bhattacharya, a teacher, on-board and she helps with editing the content on the website. Saptaparni adds that she's also learning new things as she learned how to navigate WordPress while they were setting up the website.
As far as their future plans go, she says they haven't decided on a timeline yet as to how long they will be able to do it. "Currently, we are trying to post as much as possible, hoping to get people's artwork and post those too. We are getting almost 350 unique visitors a day, which is quite good for a start. We are definitely trying to expand and put up more sections. We are uploading 2-3 original articles at least on an average on a daily basis. We will decide what's next as we go forward, it also depends on the pandemic situation," she concludes.
The Times of Corona invites writers and creators to send in their works to them at firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.