humor, Life

Lockdown Diaries

Last 4-5 months of this pandemic has taught us quite a few new terms, like “Quarantine”, “Social distancing”, “Sanitise”, etc. Another phrase which has been trending is “New Normal”, whatever we want to do or apply in the wake of current situation is a “New Normal” and of-course business meetings can’t conclude without applying this new phrase. Interestingly the word “Positive”, which used to be very frequently utilised to encourage people, be it in formal meetings or informal discussions, has suddenly become the most “feared” word lately 😊, for all the obvious reasons. 

The scenario not only has enhanced our vocabulary but it has amusingly impacted our family conversations also. Earlier we would discuss things like –  

new movie to watchnext family holiday,  

new washing machineschool syllabus,  

trafficpollution, etc  

and now the topics have transitioned into –  

how to sanitise vegetables? after how long is it safe to touch the courier?  

whether to use N-95 mask or a regular one?   

which fruits boost the immunity most? and so on… 

Besides these topics there is another big subject, which is a considerable matter of discussion and that is “house cleaning”. Now since I am operating from home and not getting “tired” because of not commuting to office (my only saviour has gone 😉), I need to actively participate into it. But a task can’t be given to you, just because you are available to do it.

After a lot of deliberation, I was assigned “dusting” job, which precedes brooming. As dusting is a part of “cleaning”, it has to be done in the morning only and therefore I have to schedule my morning activities in a way that I am able to complete this task before I login for my office work. After a few initial days of skipping it, because of mostly my reluctance and blaming it on early morning “Zoom calls” or getting up late, it eventually became a part of my daily routine. 

I had thought of “dusting” as a very small and trivial activity and hence assumed it would not take much of time. I thought it will be just about the centre-table, dining-set, TV cabinet and a bit of here and there. Who knew, that “here and there” would prove to be the most time-consuming portion. Anyway, I had to start so I began with what I had “presumed” to be my centre of activity. However, as I got into this, I unexpectedly found it to grow in size and I must say the growth was quite rapid and unusual. To my surprise, every nook and corner had a lot of dust, but that’s not what startled me. What came as a revelation was, I would clean the dust every single day and the next day it’d come back in the same quantity and sometimes even more. I felt like I was fighting an enemy and my opponent was fully enjoying it and coming back with full force every day. 

Every morning I would take more time than the previous day, each time discovering new “dust hubs” like above the almirah, behind the bed, on the top of the doors, behind the sofa, on the ceiling fans and whoa! the list went on and on. Maybe I was taking my job too seriously 😉.  

I assumed that the onset of monsoon would bring some relief, as rains usually settle the dust by making the sand moist and hence making my job easier. I started praying for an early monsoon like a farmer waiting for the rains to come and irrigate the crops. Finally, after what seemed like a very long wait, rain-gods showed up, however situation on the “dust front” didn’t improve 🙁.  

Now, even the monsoon is almost over and I haven’t found the solution yet. I am still wondering where does all the dust come from? I am afraid when “Mumbai Monsoons” can’t solve this problem who can…? 

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Life, travel

Holiday

It’s been exactly one year since my last family holiday. We had travelled to Ooty (Tamil Nadu, India) and stayed there for about 5 days and believe me those 5 days were so much full of fun, laughter and enjoyment.

View of Nilgiris with “Toy Train”

It’s such a beautiful hill station and rightly named as “the queen of hills”. We all had so much fun that even after a year its memories are absolutely fresh and vivid. I clearly remember the excitement we all had, right from the time when we were shopping for our vacation to the rainy morning of 1st Sep 2019, when we finally commenced our journey. There are so many memories from that holiday that we as a family keep going back to; from going for a walk in the rains, to visiting the tribal village, to shooting birds (with a camera 😊) and many more.  

Our flight was scheduled to reach Coimbatore at 11:20 am, but owing to a late start from Mumbai, we touched-down at 11:50. Since Coimbatore is a smaller airport and therefore cabs were not readily available. After waiting for half-hour, the cab arrived and we made ourselves comfortable in the car and excitedly started our second leg of the journey. We took a break at around 2pm for lunch and enjoyed “authentic” South Indian food, served on banana leaves.   

It took us close to 4.5 hours to reach Ooty from Coimbatore. We all were really tired as we were travelling since morning; nonetheless, the moment we stepped out of the car, we were greeted by the cool breeze of the mountains which brought a pleasant smile to our faces. We were welcomed at the resort with a warm and refreshing lemon tea. Within a minute’s time we all felt completely recharged, I don’t know whether it was the “Tea” or the “beautiful weather” of Ooty, which took our tiredness away so quickly.  

We were very clear with our holiday plans. Even though we had about 5 nights and 6 days with us, we intended to be in Ooty only, for the next five days and therefore we hadn’t planned to cover any other nearby location like Coorg, Mysore, etc., as our idea was simply to unwind and spend next couple of days there only, exploring just the nearby spots or maybe lazying around in the resort itself. We came across a lot of surprised faces when we told them about our idea of staying at one place for 5 days, as if we were committing a big mistake by staying at one location for these many days. I think Rain-Gods were also listening to our thoughts and they took us quite seriously as it continuously kept raining throughout our stay 😊, because of which we anyway couldn’t have gone to any other location.  

Beautiful flowers in the resort

Fortunately, the property was really amazing and flora inside the resort itself was no less than a botanical garden. Our favourite place in the resort was the holiday activity centre, which each one of us enjoyed fully. My daughter loved playing carrom or air-hockey with her grandmother while two of us sharpened our Table-Tennis skills.  

Adyar Ananda Bhawan

Despite non-stop rains, we managed to explore a couple of nearby spots. Although all the locations in Ooty were so very beautiful, however it is not possible to move ahead without mentioning a few of them, like the vibrant botanical garden whose roots go back to 1848, mesmerising “Dolphin’s nose”, serene Tea-gardens of Coonoor and the slow and romantic “Toy -Train”, which gives you the view of “Divine Nilgiris”. Apart from the majestic locations of Ooty, one more thing that I and my wife very fondly remember is the amazing dessert, “Kesari Bath” that we had at Adyar Ananda Bhawan. Every time we crossed the restaurant, we made sure to stop-by and have it, we convinced ourselves by repeating this statement to us” Holiday calories doesn’t count”. It was so really delicious that even while writing also I could feel its taste in my mouth. 

Now, about a little over 4 months being home-bound, we as a family have got a chance to spend some quality time with each other, since a lot of time is being saved that I used to spend commuting to and from office. Although an important aspect of a holiday is spending some quality time with family, but that’s not all, I believe the beautiful surroundings contribute a lot to it. I feel I am quite fortunate to have travelled with my family to a lot of beautiful locations like Shimla, Nainital, Mussoorie, Goa, Tehri Garhwal, Mahabaleshwar, Ooty and many more. I believe every holiday gives us lot of memories to be cherished forever and further strengthens our bond. I reckon, similar to getting our cars serviced at constant intervals, it is quite important to take a break from our regular routine and give each other a quality time at a “beautiful location”. 

View from Dolphin’s Nose

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Life

The Other Side of the Coin

We all have been experiencing a lot of things which have changed around us owing to the difficult times that the entire humanity is going through. While we continue to fight this invisible enemy, I am writing this to share a couple of things that I have come to realise in last 4-5 months of this pandemic. Besides all the sad things we have been facing like financial difficulties, emotional imbalance, panic attacks, etc., there are indeed a lot of things that have happened which interestingly fall on the positive side. Since this is a disease, problems and difficulties are bound to come, however, as they say “every coin has two faces”, this one also has given lot of things to be grateful about. 

During this period, we celebrated our wedding anniversary, my wife’s birthday, my daughter’s birthday, Raksha-Bandhan (Indian festival about celebrating the bond between a brother and a sister). Though we missed being with our loved ones, shopping and dressing up for the occasion and all the other things of the likes that we correlate a celebration with; one new and a very interesting thing that I experienced is that we spent our resources like time and energy on purely the celebration and nothing else. Things like handmade cards, homemade dishes were in the forefront and the best part was that we spent and devoted the entire day completely to ourselves. “Did I say I missed the cake?”, No I didn’t miss it, as these are the perks of being married to an excellent baker. 

One interesting realisation is about the “choice of vegetables” for meals which I used to be quite vocal in complaining about. Now since I am the one who usually goes out for vegetables and interestingly, I also end up buying similar sort of veggies, I no more have the luxury to express my displeasure. I initially thought the idea of only me going out for these errands had a larger and noble objective to minimise number of people going out, however, after a while I realised the hidden agenda and now, I can very well relate with the analogy of teachers appointing the most disturbing student as the monitor. 

Given the kind of profile I am into, I was literally living out of my suitcase; in fact, there used to be times where I was travelling for about 20 days in a month. Although I love travelling, but eventually it becomes tiring when you come back only to change the packing. Although it’s been more than four years that I am staying in my current house, nonetheless, I hardly would have got a chance to socialise in the neighbourhood, leave alone making friends. And I am sure lot of people in my society also would not know me. One fateful day after being into the house arrest for almost 3 months, all thanks to COVID-19; I planned of stepping out for a small walk, “of-course with all the precautions” in the mind. While I was enjoying my evening stroll after ages, of course in my society compound itself, I noticed two gentlemen interacting with each other, maintaining the proximity, so as to ensure “social distancing”. I greeted them and tried to strike a conversation with them and to my delight they were pretty welcoming. Within next 2-3 minutes, I also found myself chit-chatting with them comfortably. We had a great time together discussing lot of things like current situation, our surroundings, movies and what not. What started for me as a random meet, became a weekly activity and now I wait for Sunday evenings to meet with my new friends. This encounter is very close to my heart as I got my inspiration to “write” from it. I love reading books and would sometimes write also, however never thought of expressing my thoughts with a larger group at a platform like this. Although my wife had been pushing me to write for a very long time, I don’t know what, but something was stopping me. But a book written by my “Sunday evening friend”, who’s now a very good friend, acted as a tipping point and here I am sharing my experiences and realisations with you all. 

If I put all those difficulties that we all are treading through because of the pandemic, there are lots of positives and learnings also. It has given me the time to rekindle my own relationship with myself. When I look back, I realise that it has given a chance to spend more quality time with my family, which I was missing even when I was not travelling. This scenario has given me an opportunity to interact with the people who were just “some familiar faces” until sometime back. It certainly is a difficult time for all of us, in terms of its emotional and financial impact, but that is something beyond our control, what is in our control is to look at the positive aspects it has given. 

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