This Indian life by Shoba Narayan: 27 things to do while in isolation

Updated on Mar 28, 2020 10:29 PM IST

Don’t let the Coronavirus get you down

Gyms being closed doesn’t mean you cannot exercise. Do the plank at home(Photo Imaging by Parth Garg)
Gyms being closed doesn’t mean you cannot exercise. Do the plank at home(Photo Imaging by Parth Garg)
Hindustan Times | By

Yes, I know the meme going around. Shakespeare wrote Macbeth and King Lear during a plague. Isaac Newton discovered gravity, calculus and optics during the Great Plague of London. What are the rest of us doing?

In this age of uncertainty, let me just say: I hope you and your loved ones are safe and healthy. Also, since we are in isolation at our homes, here are some suggestions to keep busy.

*Cook your comfort food – rasam, or maa ki dal, or khichdi or butter chicken. Mix it with rice. Add lots of ghee. Eat with your hands. Smack your lips. Repeat.

* Look through old photos. Stare at the one of you with bangs or bell bottoms. Shake your head with wonder at the person you used to be. Feel happy that you made it past that stage.

*Organise your photo albums. Find that letter from your ex buried in the middle. Read it one last time. Tear it up. Set it on fire. You know you need to.

*Read all the books you’ve been wanting to read. Begin with Little Women – book first and then movie. Or Love in the Time of Cholera.

*Repot your plants, especially the tulsi, curry leaves, mint, and brahmi. Tear five leaves off each plant. Wash and pop into your mouth along with some turmeric and pepper. Helps immunity.

Realise this: you are alive. Some others all over the world are not so lucky

*Promising research from Singapore and Boston suggests that zinc gluconate taken in a 50 mg dose daily may help prevent the infection. Try it.

*Yes, your business is suffering. Yes, your funding is on hold. Yes, the market is in a free fall. Yes, the whole thing sucks. Give yourself permission to feel the pain. Wallow in anxiety, self-pity, rage, frustration or whatever it is that you are feeling. Take an hour or four. However long you need. Then realise this: you are alive. Some others all over the world are not so lucky.

*Talk to a therapist on the telephone, especially if you are running a restaurant or any other business that is losing income and livelihood due to enforced closures.

*Wash your hands, and hug your loved ones at least five times a day.

*Cuddle up with your sweetie and binge-watch Madam Secretary, Game of Thrones, Narcos or whatever it is that rocks your boat.

*Throw a ball at a wall. If possible, throw three balls. Juggle.

*Sing as you walk up or down the stairs. Get out that karaoke machine. Play old film songs. Sing along.

*Listen to Ave Maria sung by Renee Fleming. It is a call for grace. Play it loudly at twilight.

*Wear perfume. Even to bed. Especially when you feel the funk.

*Make infused ice. Put some cucumber water in an ice cube, put diluted lemon in another, crush rose petals into the third, add some mint or ginger into the fourth. Buy a lovely brand of gin – maybe Botanist or Greater Than. Buy Fever Tree or Swami tonic water. Sit on your balcony in the evening with a tall drink and a magazine. Watch the sunset.

*Try drawing something, whether it is a rangoli or a cartoon. If nothing else, doodle. Draw out your mood with a drawing.

*Play board games with the kids. They are driving you nuts anyway. Begin with the ones that you played as a child. Introduce your kids to your childhood. Play cards. Teach them bridge or poker.

*If board games aren’t your thing, play online games with people in other continents.

*Be kind – even to the judgy ones who populate your WhatsApp groups with their sermons.

*Resist the urge to get on a moral high horse when your neighbour does not follow your social distancing rules.

*Realise what Carl Jung said when you get triggered by something someone said or did: “Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.”

*Begin that online class that you’ve been meaning to. Remember the archeology one you signed up for? Remember how you told yourself that you were going to brush up on your math from Khan Academy? Well, what are you waiting for? Now is the time.

*Learn to code, especially if you are a woman.

*Bake bread. If you do, send a loaf to your neighbour. Or to me.

*Keep a journal, especially if you are below 20. It is perhaps the first time you have ever experienced anything like this. Even H1N1 and SARS were not on this scale. They didn’t cause this level of shutdown. Realise that you are witnessing history in the making, however uncomfortable it may be. As the quote says, “Your grandparents were called to war. You are being asked to stay in your room.” Get some perspective.

*Do the plank at home. Your gym maybe closed. But that doesn’t mean you cannot exercise. At the very least, try walking 10,000 steps inside your home or around your neighbourhood. You feel like climbing the walls anyway.

*Learn the novel sensation of feeling bored. The simplest way to do this is to lie in bed without keeping a device nearby.

Stay safe. Stay healthy.

(This column addresses the issue of parenting our parents and other unique facets of This Indian Life and our culture. If you have stories about the weird and wonderful relationships that enrich or enervate your life, write in.)

This Indian Life appears every fortnight

From HT Brunch, March 29, 2020

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    Shoba Narayan is Bangalore-based award-winning author. She is also a freelance contributor who writes about art, food, fashion and travel for a number of publications.

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