Once upon a pandemic: Ajay Parekh

The twentieth in a series by Stress Matters, who have been asking those across the events industry – how are you doing? 

Event producer, project director and operations director Ajay Parekh gives a freelancer’s perspective on the pandemic.

I’ve been working in this industry, starting in theatre at the age of 16, worked in film, television,  live music and more specifically the corporate live events industry for the last 30 years.

Unfortunately I was made redundant in March for reasons we all know, and spent the last 6/7 months effectively using up all of my cash reserves looking for work.  But very glad to be home in the UK with my dear wife and my younger daughter of course as well. 

Low points of the year have to be the feeling of being adrift, being disconnected, not being able to fulfil my ambitions, aspirations, as well as the trauma of knowing that I cannot support my family as I would want to.

Also, realising just how disconnected and desperate the events industry has been.  As a freelancer myself, as somebody who has seen the best and worst of the events industry, this year has proven just how much more work we have to do ultimately.

On the other hand, the high points have to be new opportunities, new people, new connections. Certainly those new ones that I was able to make in Hong Kong, and also creating and delivering the events freelancer’s summit, through connected, and of course having the time to realise there’s new things I need to do and want to do.

I’ve learnt a few lessons but the main one being that people turn small dramas into a crisis has been entertaining and difficult to see sometimes. It seems humans are fixated on everything they cannot control. 

On a personal level, I suppose I’ve discovered just quite how much patience I do have, it’s really helped me throughout the year, and also to realise how quietly determined I am. Also, a constant reminder to keep in touch with your loved ones and in my case it is with my parents because I just don’t phone them often enough.

I don’t look after myself in a prescribed sense, but I’m always in a constant battle to reduce my calorie intake because I always think about food! I usually wake up around 6.30am every morning and aim to sleep by 9.30/10pm. I listen to Radio 4 and browse through social media but that’s as good a routine as I’ve ever had. I do admit, I don’t exercise enough, certainly in the UK I find it very difficult (weather permitting) and all manner of excuses. I’ve cut out alcohol as much as possible, maybe have an odd drink on a Friday or Saturday evening with a meal.

Overall, I would say I probably am not doing enough to look after myself.

The advice I would give is to be more decisive and commit to what you want to do. It’s better to fail trying than to not try at all.

It can be the case where someone may have the time but not the money, or they have the money but not the time. In my case, I’ve had all the time but I just needed to decide what I wanted to do and get on with it.

I am looking forward to 2021.  I’m looking forward to hearing stories from my family and friends, people getting back to work. I look forward to the first hug with my family and friends who I haven’t seen for far too long. It would be nice to meet up with some friends for a beer, and do all of the things we all enjoy doing, cannot wait to go to a gig. I’m looking forward to building on projects that I’ve had planned for a couple of years, which I know deserve more time and attention.

I would like to fulfil some of the ambitions that I have in Asia, go back there and work with a team, a company and organisations to get things done and make stuff happen! Covid allowing, of course.


If you would like to share your story, please visit www.stressmatters.org.uk/pandemic-stories for more information.

Read other stories in the Once Upon A Pandemic series here.

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