I am stuck in Chennai. We are in health space. So our staff are working. I had a chance to get out on the last flight to Hyderabad but decided to stay back to provide moral support to our staff. Mohan Ram, being a doctor, is visiting emergency cases. He has a licence to roam. First time I am jealous of him.
We had a dummy or trial run for curfew on Sunday. By end of the day, I thought it would be difficult if the curfew extended till 31st March. Now it is extended till 15th of April. Mohan Ram predicated this, a day before the PM came up with the announcement. There is nothing we can do about this, except play our part in maintaining social distance. I thought about it and said to myself, if I can make a plan, I can survive this without getting irritated too much. Once I decided what all I will try to do in the next 21 days, it did not look as scary. This is the plan for me (middle aged & staying alone). You can alter this to suit you. Let’s go
- Cleaning up:
I made a list of what all I will clean up. From keyboard to kitchen utensils I cleaned them up today. There are few things like the lamp/Diya which needs special cleaning and they will be attended during this break.
Mohan, my brother, gifted me air-conditioner in June of last year and the remote was almost brown in colour with years of dust and grime all over. This is how it looks now.
You can make a list of things you need to clean and stagger them over next three weeks. A dirty window sill, a computer keyboard, switches on the wall. Make a list.
2. Repair/ Organize/DIY
Anyone watched Suits in Netflix/Amazon Prime? One thing that amazed me was Harvey Specter’s home. Well I am not talking about the grandeur. Just how clean it always looks especially the kitchen. May be he never cooked a meal in his pod. But it provides an inspiration how to keep your kitchen. Well, I tried and the result is this. Of course with Indian cooking, where you spill the masala, the cooker which always jets out streams of water, the mustards bursting in the pan and blows all over the place, it is difficult. If you are just going to heat (in Microwave) and eat, it is easier. My first attempt at keeping the kitchen a la Harvey produced this result. Hope it becomes an habit. Of course comparing his million dollar penthouse to humble home is stretching things a bit far. But you get the gist.
Harvey Specter’s Penthouse & Your Truly’ s Kitchen – Only difference – I cook.
It’s close to two years (just ten days short) since I moved to Chennai. One of the first things I was determined to do, was to keep things at designated places. In Pune and Hyderabad where we lived, I used to put (throw would be more apt) things wherever I could and I whenever I struggled to find them, all I had to do was, “Renuka did you see my bike/car keys? my wallet? my Passport?” and she would retrieve them. She could find anything even after one year since I last saw them. Rachna’s famous one liner always is, “Nothing is lost till your mom says she could not find it.” Well, it is not option in Chennai where I live alone. So I forced myself into keeping everything in a designated place. I devised a place for every single kitchen item from pans to spoons to provisions so that I could just open a particular cupboard or drawer with closed eyes and get what I want. If you are one of the guys who depend on your spouse/mother/sister (brother is an unlikely choice) to find things for you, this is the time to start getting organized. After all you have 21 sorry 20 days to cultivate this habit.
In the next three weeks you are not going to find a mechanic or a carpenter or an electrician to get things done for you. On the Janata Curfew day, I got my new PC installed properly (I have an obsession for hiding the wires) and it took some time to get this done.
For my next DIY, I nailed couple of frames to hide my speaker wires. The following will give you an idea. The good things is you may have to spend a lot of time to get things done as you may not have the right tools and consumables. But then, spending time is the goal of this isolation. For example, when I tried to nail the frame for the speaker wires, I found out I did not have wall plugs – rawl plugs. I spent an hour searching for a substitute and found a tiny piece of plywood. I cut that into plugs and it worked well.
I have some voltage stabilizers in bad repair. May be I can have a go at it. JK gave me an iPad with a shaking screen. It’s time to have a go at an Apple Product.
So DIY, repair and Organize is in my agenda.
There is a bucket list here. I bought a Surface Pro three years back hoping to learn drawing or at least doodle. Never got into it. Either Rachna or Renuka helped with doodles for my bogs. Few months back, the surface pro became our office computer, hidden from view and connected to a monitor, keyboard & mouse. I liberated this when I bought the PC and did my first doodle on this an hour back. (Featured image). I am not very happy with the result but at least I have started.
I also want to shoot a YouTube video, edit and publish it. Hopefully readers can expect to watch a DYI video by the end of 21 days of isolation.
We hired a teacher to teach us to speak in Bengali and Mohan Ram (a good student all his life) got the best from him. I did not (no surprises there) and thought I will teach myself with YouTube lessons. Never started, not even checked if there are good lesson in YouTube; spent time watching Trever Noah and Vadivelu comedy on YouTube. I will learn at least two lessons during this forced holidays.
It is the best opportunity we are going to get to learn something new. Try to figure out what you wanted to learn the most.
4. Watch & Read.
Another item in the bucket list to watch the good movies I collected over the years but never got around to do (Courtesy Netflix). On the day of Janata curfew, I watched Taxi Driver (1976). Brilliant performances from Robert de Niro & Jodie Foster (she was just twelve years old when she appeared in that movie). I can do a blog on that.
I have a collection of classic WW II movies. I bought Blu-ray discs, ripped them to my drive using MKV and then put them away. Fortunately I have the disc. I can now watch some of the classics, Das Boot, Downfall, Flags of Our Fathers, Letters from Iwo Jima, Saving Private Ryan and of course Schindler’s List. Some of them I have seen on TV. Also to time to catch up with Satyajit Ray’s and Mrinal Sen’s Calcutta Trilogies and compare them in a blog.
Watching need not be only videos. Everyday, I watch some parakeets sitting on a electric wire, fly away come back – repeat. I used to watch this spectacle for less than a minute before turning my attention to smart phone for messages & news. I watched that for a full two minutes today and I have to admit I was missing watching them more closely, it is a grand spectacle.
You can figure out what to watch. It can be birds or toddlers playing and how they keep busy or ant moving from one end to other end in the kitchen. What you thought as mundane can excite you now.
Same is with reading. I have a huge backlog. I bought books in last two book fairs and most of them are lying unread rather untouched. It is time to catch up with Ki. Rajanarayanan and Thi Janakiraman.
Mohan has finished Volume I of Ponniyin Selvan and Mohan Ram has shared the link for reading all five volumes on line. The best time to reread Ponniyin Selvan or for the first time.
5. Pray, Yoga, Meditation & Exercise.
When the Janata Curfew was about to end on Sunday, I ventured out and saw empty street and closed shops. It put some fear in me, ‘How will I survive if it extends for a week.’ I went home and recited Kanda Shasti Kavasam a prayer on Lord Muruga. We grew up watching dad reciting this every day and always played it first thing on long drives. When I shared it, mom commented dad’s voice is still ringing in ears. From Sunday I put that into my routine.
I also started on Yoga and meditation after a gap of nine months. Yoga & meditation calms the mind, puts some restrictions (no snacking for two hours before & no meal for four hours before you practice yoga). One tip for staying healthy.
Well the public parks are closed so exercise indoors is the way. Mohan Ram has dumped a exercycle at home. If not now, when will I step on it?
I am beginning to feel I will get busier now than when I was going to work everyday.
6. Sing & Dance
If ever you wanted to see a man with two left feet, you don’t have to go beyond me. I think I am probably the only person in today’s world who would not have shaken the leg. I should dance for a number is a thought that comes to the mind once in a while and I immediately put that away. One dance sequence I always wanted to learn was a Kamal number which I watched during school. This is the one.
Kamal Hassan in ‘Iru Nilavuagal’ – I still remember this dance.
The same goes with my singing capability, less said the better. But then who is going to ask me not to sing. No one is around in 1200 square foot distance. Good time to strain the vocal cards.
7. Social Media & Smart Phone Distancing:
I am not much into social media except WhatsApp. But involuntarily I pick up the phone hundreds of times a day. And the bloody smart phone now gives a statistics also as to how many time you picked up the phone which increases the guilt. I want to make a conscious effort to keep that at distance at least for an hour. Not when I am reading or writing but to stay away from it consciously when I am not doing anything. I am placing the most difficult task at the last.
I last travelled on 17th of March and the earliest travel I can do now is on the 16th of April (hopefully we would have fought off the virus by then), the longest gap in last four decades where I have not driven, taken a train, rode a bike or flew somewhere. Oh yeah there is a first for every thing.
I thought I can catch up with my blog writing (I am three short for this year, now two if I calculate number of Saturday/Sundays to blogs posted) during this forced break. Well it looks like I can catch up with missed out blog posts of last year as well.
Let us responsible citizens and listen to what our Government has asked us to do.