As the Covid-19 second wave abates and we prepare to get back to our workplaces (hoping that the third wave – if that happens – would be milder), we are all wiser in more ways than one. We’ve discovered some new interests, rediscovered some lost ones and realised some of our follies. Here are a few lessons the pandemic taught me: I can cook: Before Covid-19 struck, my culinary skills ended with making tea and frying an omelette. In the past year-and-ahalf, however, I’ve realised that onions and tomatoes can be used in more things than a salad; that potatoes and brinjals behave differently at the boiling point of water; that masala is not one thing but a combination of many. Today I know that the brilliance of Kashmiri chilli doesn’t match the pungency of its Andhra cousin; that spinaches can be savoy, semisavoy and flat-leafed, gongura is not just another keerai.
Looking in the fridge – not just the plate — today, I can tell a zucchini from a cucumber and a lettuce from a cabbage. Besides valuable lessons in basics ingredients (what a delight it was to learn that sambar has dal in it!) and techniques (no, sauté is not always the ballet dancer’s effortlessly graceful leap), I’ve also realised that cooking can be destressing, especially when you aren’t doing it between two MS Teams calls. The dampener, however, is doing the dishes. Reminds me of the great quote on love: It starts when you sink in her arms and ends with your arms in her sink.
I can’t cut my hair: After months of avoiding a haircut for the fear of contracting the virus, just when I was ready to visit the stylist, the second wave hit, and the salons were closed. More than my mane getting quite unwieldy for the comb, a heavy head can give me a fever (not the best thing to happen in these times). So, I got an electric trimmer from an e-commerce website. I had watched the demonstration video in which the man ran the trimmer smoothly over his scalp using different blades and emerged Justin Timberlake-like. I ran the trimmer the same way and came out with two ‘mottai’ patches and a ‘kudumi’. Lesson learned: Respect your barber.
There’s a place called terrace: The biggest horror of lockdown-inflicted WFH, I thought, was living in an apartment. For more than a year, my journeys have been from the bedroom to the drawing room where two corners have been turned into the work spaces for me and my wife (the son had marked the second bedroom as his undisputed territory with a determination that China can’t match). And then I discovered the terrace. Not that I was unaware of its existence; I always considered it a place where noisy children splashed water on one another unmindful of the grandpas walking along ‘8’ shaped lines and grandmas in animated discussions on intriguing television serials and intricate kolams.
Tired of being cooped up and scared of stepping out into the streets where people wore masks around their necks, one evening a few months ago I ventured on to the terrace. There were, indeed, a few noisy children, the grandpas and the grandmas. There were also many flowering plants, a corner converted by a resident into a vegetable garden. There were squirrels, crows, pigeons and a black cat that lay in wait to grab a fleeting sparrow. On the western horizon, the golden sun was sliding behind a hillock, painting the darkening skies with streaks of crimson and indigo. I felt small and happy.
Views expressed above are the author’s own.
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