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Would like to invite Pfizer vaccine head Kathrin Jansen home: Syska Group’s Jyotsna Uttamchandani

Meeting Jansen, one of the heroines of our fight against COVID, and visiting Takayama, Japan, are some of the things Uttamchandani would like to do when the world makes a new start.

April 27, 2021 / 07:39 AM IST
The pandemic has taught us all that most of the things our lives revolved around are temporary, says Jyotsna Uttamchandani.

The pandemic has taught us all that most of the things our lives revolved around are temporary, says Jyotsna Uttamchandani.

Note to readers: While we accept the reality of the coronavirus, it is important to be optimistic. We must believe that there will be a day when the disease will no longer be the all-destroying scourge it is today. And when that day comes, we will be able to enjoy life, maybe with a few adjustments, the way we did before COVID-19. To that end, we are starting ‘If Covid Vanished ...’, a series of interviews with corporate heads and achievers, where we ask them where they’d like to travel or eat, who’d they like to meet, and so on, if the world became Corona-mukt. Follow the series here.

Lighting and electrical appliances are broadly the product categories that the Syska Group makes. But the world will really sparkle and hum again when everyone is vaccinated and the COVID virus is rendered toothless by our fortified bodies.

When that happens, Jyotsna Uttamchandani, the Purdue University-educated Executive Director, Syska Group, would like to experience all that she has missed out on during the pandemic, from mundane pleasures to special occasions. Her dream guest, for example, would be Kathrin Jansen, the Head of Vaccine Development and Research at Pfizer and one of the several tireless heroines of the fight against COVID.

An ‘If Covid Vanished’ conversation with Uttamchandani.

If COVID went away or became easily manageable, which city would you like to travel to first and why?


Takayama, Japan. I am a member of a spiritual organisation called Sukyo Mahikari. It originated from Japan and our main World Shrine, the Suza, is based there. The last time I visited was in February 2020. But it feels like forever. The never-ending sky and Mt Fuji stretch and meet together at this empyrean kingdom, as I call it.

Which restaurant/ bar would you go to first and why?

It would probably be Elephant & Co in Pune. Love their Garlic Butter Poie.

Which famous stranger would you like to invite home and talk to and why?

Kathrin Jansen, the Head of Vaccine Development and Research at Pfizer. I have been reading up on how she led a team of 650 to 700 people and got results. This was during a pandemic and a lot of the conversations were over Zoom. She has had an awe-inspiring journey as a scientist and it would be heartening to know more.

If covid vanishedWhat public performance/ occasion would you like to attend?

This is a tough choice. Definitely want to do something I  haven’t done before, so maybe Oktoberfest in Germany and the Running of the Bulls in Spain. Thinking about it gives me goosebumps.

What group activity would you like to participate in?

Back to my Bollywood dance classes. I miss dancing in a classroom. Online classes just don't give you the same vibe. 

What new skill would you like to learn?

I’ve been doing yoga for about seven months now. And it keeps getting tougher for me just as I get close to being able to do a difficult asana. There are two asanas that I want to ace – the Handstand Scorpion and the Eight Angle Pose.

The first song that comes to mind when you think of a COVID-free world.

‘Here Comes the Sun’ by The Beatles. ‘Survivor’ by Destiny's Child. 

What bad habit will you work on eliminating in a world that is open again?

It’s not really a bad habit. But definitely living more in the moment, being grateful for the present. 

What will you do with your masks?

I think I will wear them for some time. There is this fear inside and I think it will remain for a while even after the pandemic is over.

What would your motto be for life after the pandemic?

The pandemic has taught us all that most of the things our lives revolved around are temporary. Be it the gym, bars, the cinema – we are currently adjusting to life without them. What matters is home and dear ones. I am not saying the others are not important, they are, but we all know who and what is keeping us safe. So let us be grateful for the things we normally take for granted.

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Akshay Sawai
first published: Apr 27, 2021 07:39 am
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