Spectator by Seema Goswami: Post-Corona life

When things go back to normal – and they will – this is what I will do first
Although life goes on you miss many things you took entirely for granted in pre-Coronavirus times(Photo imaging: Parth Garg)
Although life goes on you miss many things you took entirely for granted in pre-Coronavirus times(Photo imaging: Parth Garg)
Updated on Apr 05, 2020 02:33 AM IST
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Hindustan Times | BySeema Goswami

As I sit down to write this column, I have already been housebound for 14 days after having come into contact with someone who was later diagnosed with Covid-19. And just when I was ready to rejoin the world, the Prime Minister announced a three-week, nation-wide lockdown, which means I will now end up being quarantined for five weeks in all.

I shouldn’t complain, though. With a well-stocked kitchen, plenty of books to read, and three streaming services at the ready, I am more prepared than most to ride out a lockdown. Also there’s the fact – as I wrote last time – that as someone who works out of home, I am more used than others to the solitary life. But even so, staying cooped up at home, with just the occasional visit to my teeny-tiny balcony to catch a whiff of fresh air, is beginning to make me stir-crazy. Not to mention, a little bit bonkers – I even caught myself talking to my plants the day before yesterday. (Though psychiatrists say that talking to your plants is fine; it’s when they start talking back to you that you should ask for help.)

That said, I am trying to keep to my normal routine as much as possible. I still get up at my usual time, have breakfast, make sure to shower, dress and even slap on some make-up before I sit down to work on my book. I stride up and down the house in lieu of my usual walk in the park and try to ensure that I get my 10,000 steps in. I mark mid-day by having lunch. I celebrate the end of my workday by having a last cup of coffee. I cook dinner every evening, set the table, and eat a proper dinner with my husband. Sometimes to cheer ourselves up, we even open a nice bottle of wine to accompany our home-cooked meal.

Try not to disappear down the hole of social media and turn off Netflix at a reasonable hour at night even if not sleepy

I try not to disappear down the hole of social media, restricting myself to checking Twitter every couple of hours. I don’t watch TV during the daytime. And I turn off Netflix/Amazon/Hotstar at a reasonable hour at night even if I am not sleepy. I find it’s much better to wind down by reading in bed rather than watching yet another episode of that addictive show.

But even though life goes on, albeit in an altered form, I find myself acutely missing many things that I took entirely for granted in pre-Coronavirus times. And I can’t wait for this period of quarantine to be over, so that I can go back to doing all the things that mark normality for me.

Here’s just a small sampler:

Going for a walk: I wouldn’t have thought that I would miss this quite so much, given that in normal times, I often had to push myself to get my sneakers on and out of the door. But now that that option is no longer available to me, I find myself longing for the spring-flowers laden ambience of Lodi Garden, where the sound of birdsong accompanies me as I walk down the tree-lined pathways. And I am sure that when I am back at my favourite walking spot – even though the weather will have heated up by then – I will appreciate it even more for having experienced its absence.

Having lunch with my friends: Hanging out with my girlfriends whether over lunch, a coffee, or even a drink, was something that I always took for granted. In retrospect, though, those girlie lunches or girls nights out were a lifesaver for me – and I suspect, for them as well. It gave us a chance to vent if we were unhappy, to exult if things were going well, and to share if we were troubled about something. Yes, I know we can always use Zoom for a virtual hang-out, but sorry to say, it’s nowhere as nice as the real thing.

Dropping in on my sister: I don’t get a chance to do that very often at the best of times, but this may mark the longest period that I have not had a chance to see her in person – video chats are all very well, but there is no substitute for in-person contact. So, as soon as this nightmare is over, I am headed over, with a hotpack containing the channa-bhaturas we love so much, for some much needed Didi-time.

Eating a meal in a restaurant alone: Most people don’t get it, but I actually enjoy going out to eat on my own. Whenever my writing is not going well, I head out to one of my regular haunts, with just a good book for company. I eat a simple meal, flush my mind out completely, and come back to work, feeling refreshed and rejuvenated. I can’t wait to do that once more.

Going to the beach: It’s a funny thing. Until now, whenever I have been on a beachside vacation, I have always ended up complaining about what the humidity does to my hair (you really don’t want to know). And yet, now that travel seems an impossibility, it is the beach that I find myself longing for: the smell of salt water; the smoothness of the sand between my toes; the cooling waves lapping against my feet. Even the wild, frizzy tangle that is my hair at the beachside will be well worth it.

Journalist and author Seema Goswami has been a columnist with HT Brunch since 2004

Spectator appears every fortnight

From HT Brunch, April 5, 2020

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Tuesday, May 17, 2022