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THE LOCKDOWN DIARY OF 5 WOMEN IN BANGALORE

We asked a few of our Vine team members to tell us how a “normal” day of lockdown looks like for them. All of our team members have different lifestyles, some work full time, some work part-time and some are stay at home moms but we all have one thing in common, we’re going through this lockdown together. 

 


LOCO IN LOCKDOWN: FAMILY LIFE AT HOME 


By: Farrah G.

Type of expat: mom of 3, full-time volunteer

source The following article is in no way meant to trivialise or dismiss the incredibly difficult situation facing millions across India; as someone who works with people below the poverty line, I understand that there are huge issues facing the nation, and indeed the world. I am well aware of how lucky I am; this is just a piece of fun in these horrendous times, where a laugh may be welcome.

 

As someone who loves being at home but can never refuse an invitation, I felt that the lockdown would be a breeze; a welcome respite from my days sitting in Bangalore traffic. Except I soon realised… I love being at home alone. Without anyone there. And now, here they all are: the 4-, 9- and 11-year-old plus the husband, all wanting food, education, my space and time. Is it too soon to say I say I miss Bangalore traffic now?

 

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I could cope with having to get them 3 meals a day, sorta. Lockdown appetite for these wolves meant that it was more like 23. In the middle of homework, in the middle of watching TV, in the middle of breathing, the inevitable question: ‘is there anything to eat?’

I used to adore cooking and at the beginning of lockdown, I was convinced I could become the new Ottolenghi, but there’s 3 reasons why cooking under lockdown is different. I am tempted to say, ‘Washing up, washing up, washing up’, because boy, is that ever a disincentive for making a recipe that requires more than 3 ingredients and 1 pot. Also, children, unlike guests, are honest about my cooking; I’ve been forced to confront the fact that I am, in fact, Nottolenghi. They take one mouthful and declare they hate it. Ungrateful swine. Oooh, and that’s another thing. Scarcity of some ingredients in general has me wishing for any kind of swine, ungrateful or otherwise. Why does every recipe I own require bacon, tinned tomatoes or cheese; sometimes all 3? On the other hand, I’ve gotten quite good at dahl, chapatis and recipes using fresh Indian produce, so I’m counting that as a win. Also, if an evil virus is going to show its ugly face, I’m glad it happened in mango season.

 

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I knew I was never going to be a good teacher without the daily humiliation of working out algebra and phonics ‘it’s ‘A’! ‘A’! I don’t understand what you don’t get. It’s a frickin’ ‘A’!’ Lockdown has made me realise, more than ever, that teachers need to be paid approximately a bazillion rupees a month.

My tip for homeschooling with three kids? Let the one under 5 do whatever he wants as long as it’s not on the screen and he’s not destroying the house; they all learn to read in the end, right? (‘it’s ‘A’!’) Pop in enough stuff so the big ones have a daily schedule that they can do solo; if there’s enough stuff throughout the day, then TV becomes a treat, right? Mine have various webinars from school throughout the morning plus homework to do in the spaces in between, which keeps us more than busy, especially when I add in one of those family ‘Cosmic Yoga’ and ‘PE with Joe’ classes in (this may be the one time of day where you do have to wear a bra). In the afternoon, they asked to go on an online camp where they learn about a different famous personality each day – it is great and they love it! Although not so much when they described ancient Egyptian embalming processes to my bemused mother.

 

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Speaking of which, there’s suddenly time to speak regularly to the grandparents, who we are most worried about during lockdown. It’s not a great habit to chat on a screen during meals, but then again, it means my kids don’t complain about the food (see above) and that’s when it works out best for us to call family around the world. It’s become a much-appreciated habit on both sides, if a little guilt-laden: ‘oh, so it took a coronavirus to get you to call regularly?’. We are just so incredibly lucky to live in an age with this technology; although we can’t cyber-hug yet, we can chat and there’s always something to share: ‘look, Nana: ‘A’!’

 

In all seriousness, at this extremely worrying time, it has been a blessing to have the structure, the madness, the cuddles and intensity of having young children in the house. Sometimes we totally lose it with each other, sometimes I feel that we’ve had the most perfect couple of hours ever (no, not day; let’s not go too far). This crazy bunch are my tribe and we are bonding at a time when the world seems like a fragile place. We’re also doing what we can to help those less fortunate, who are struggling all across Bangalore. With so many questions in the air, (‘will they ever go back to school?’ ‘How long can leg hair really get?’ ‘Is daytime drinking really such a bad thing?’) it feels like love is the answer; and I’m so grateful to have them

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A DAY IN THE LIFE OF AN ENTREPRENEUR ON LOCKDOWN 


By: Tena P.

Type of expat: working, married to local

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MORNING

I had decided to work from home and practice social distancing before the lockdown officially happened, so I had started establishing some sort of routine beforehand. In the beginning, my days weren’t all that different because I work from home quite a bit, but after a while, social distancing gets to you. Now my mornings look like this: I wake up later than usual, around 9 AM (sorry moms). The first thing my husband and I do is clean the apartment since our housekeeper is on watch paid leave. Every day, we focus on one thing: bathrooms one day, floor the other, dusting, etc. Then it is time for breakfast, which can now be an actual feast! What a luxury it is to have a huge stack of pancakes in the middle of a week. If I am up for it, I do a leisurely yoga class. I highly suggest checking out Glo, they have classes for all levels of practice and duration, as well as really good Pilates classes. I am not particularly fussed if I don’t feel like doing it. These are not ordinary times and kindness, both towards others and towards ourselves is key. Then it is time for emails, maybe a mentoring session and a Zoom meeting or two. Work has been super slow since there are no clients to attend to, but that means I can focus more on supporting others the best that I can through mentoring, as well as focus on content creation and updating things like our website and social media.

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AFTERNOON

Just like breakfast, lunch is a slower, more deliberate affair. My husband and I cook together, usually something that can be frozen so we always have something quick and nutritious a few days later. Favorites include soups of all kinds, curries, pasta bakes and roasted meat and veggies. A glass of wine with lunch- why not, it’s not like we will get into trouble with the boss! After lunch, depending on the volume of work, I will either read for a bit or do some more emails and mentoring sessions. We live in an apartment without a balcony or a terrace, so in the afternoon I indulge in every Slavic grandmother’s favorite hobby: staring out of the window. Depending on the day, I try to do one self-care thing as well, such as oiling my hair, doing a facemask or painting my nails. The absolute first thing I will do post lockdown is have a long spa day.

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EVENING

I am supposed to finish my online master’s degree this year so this lockdown was a blessing in disguise. I have dedicated my evenings to finally writing my thesis. Some days it goes better than others, but hey it is the intention that counts. I know a lot of people have really ambitious plans, like learning new languages, mastering yoga, but it is also okay if the only thing you did today was breathe. Mental health should be our number one priority. After writing or “writing”, depending on the day, my husband and I will either watch a movie or play cards. We have started the longest, most serious gin rummy tournament ever. I have also been spending a lot more time talking and connecting with my friends back home and in Dubai, as well as my family. The time difference means there is always at least one call in the evening before going to bed to read some more.

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LOCKDOWN LIFE OF A WORKING DAUGHTER IN LAW



By: Supriya B.

Type of expat: working, married to a local

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When 2020 began, I was extremely hopeful. 2019 went beautifully for me (except the horrid Game of Thrones Season 8) and I wanted this year to supersede it. But like they say, if you want to make God laugh, tell Her your plans.

 

March 2020 will be for our generation what WWII was for the silent generation; a global threat that could potentially tear down anyone, anytime. With an unprecedented threat comes an unprecedented change in routine. Almost overnight everyone went into lockdown; ie, no stepping out of the house unless absolutely necessary.  Overnight, office goers began working from home, domestic help was relieved, and basic supplies became limited. 50 years down the line, our future generations are going to make billion-dollar movies on this topic!

 

But moving away from what the world will be like and coming to how I have been spending my days. The first 1 week (I stopped going out from 12th March) was the ultimate vacation mode. We were leisurely working in our PJs, eating whatever we could cook, skipping exercises and playing games all night. It felt like the only way to calm our minds from the terrifying news all day.

But a week later when despair started setting in, thanks to the commencement of the official lockdown in India and extremely limited pantry deliveries, I knew that I had to change things around. So I sat down, jotted down my thoughts and decided to follow a pattern, if not a routine. Here’s how my weekday (yes there is still a difference between weekdays and weekends!) looks like:

 

I wake up mid-morning and try to give myself at least 20 minutes to plan the day out. I write down my office meeting schedule, plan what the family would want to eat for lunch and when will I exercise in the day. This helps me stay on track till at least 7:30 PM. Here is what worked for me that could help you too.

 

TIPS

  • I got my family involved. We are a household of 4, and each takes care of a particular chore. Our house is in no pristine condition; we clean maybe thrice a week, but it is manageable. That will work for now

  • I’ve set up a designated space for working, and no it’s not my bed. I have my laptop neatly set out with my planners and pens, and some pretty pictures to look at. It sounds cliched of course, but it works brilliantly.

  • I play a game every day! It could be Ludo King with the family or Houseparty with my sister in Dubai or Hanover. For those who don’t know, Houseparty is an app where you video chat with friends and can play games like Trivia and Heads Up! It surely takes my mind off the news.

  • I’m thinking of this time as a crossover episode between Black Mirror and Masterchef Australia! One day when we had limited supplies (no vegetables/fruits/rice/milk/bread), I imagined it to be an Elimination Challenge, wore a black long shirt as an apron and set on to make something out of what we had. My partner and father-in-law helped me out with live commentary and trust me, it really turned out to be fun!

  • Exercise! I take Dance fitness classes on the Cult.fit app with my friends; this keeps me accountable to take the class and I end up burning calories while feeling happy. I tried following some other fitness videos too, but I could never work diligently on getting ‘fitter’, so dance really helps me stay out of the otherwise sedentary life.

  • Lastly, write. I could be busy the whole day but I try really hard to not skip this. Documenting what I am going through, physically, mentally and emotionally. I am hoping I will have enough material someday to author my own book. Till then, my words become my comfort blanket every night.

 

A very important thought that helped me was: DO NOT TRY TO BE OVER PRODUCTIVE! It is okay if I don’t come out of this as an artist or a baker or a more technically sound person. I am surviving this pandemic with my as-positive-as-possible vibes and for me, that is enough.

 

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THE QUARANTINE LIFE OF A FASHION MOMPRENEUR 


By: Kiran Reynolds

Type of expat: working, mom of 2

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The first 2 weeks of voluntary quarantine were a breeze. After several busy months of working diligently on building my business, some time to slow down and reflect was just what I needed. I still had my cook and my cleaner so I had plenty of time to sit and be with my children – a nine-year-old and 2 years old. I also enjoyed some time to dedicate to myself and practice self-care, while also working on my business of course. I was taking life with ease, and I felt in a real state of contentment. However, since the official lockdown began we have stopped all domestic help and even that at first was ok – after all I didn’t have anyone cooking for me back in England, and apart from a professional clean once a week, I was pretty much doing everything myself once upon a time so why couldn’t I do it all again now? It hasn’t taken long for the true reality of a complete lockdown to hit me and in all honesty, it isn’t an easy ride….

No day has been exactly the same, some days good, some days not so good. Each day presents me with a different type of challenge, but just for reference, I’ve documented Wednesday 1st April  – my toughest day yet.

5am  – woken up by a screaming 2-year-old – it was just a bad dream but she fell back sound asleep… I, on the other hand, was wide-awake so took the time to read through my gazillion emails and messages (mainly spam and boring stuff)

6am – Engage in some meditative practice to set me up for the day – then onto every single food delivery app to try and get some supplies into the house!

7am – The kids are wide-awake and ready for breakfast, no milk or eggs in the house (husband and I have been on the hunt but no luck) so toast with butter it is! Hard time convincing a two-year-old, who’s going through an “I only want boiled eggs or all hell will break loose” phase.

8am – Set the kids up with their favourite cartoons, cleaned away the breakfast dishes and time for a nice hot shower – which is cut short 2 minutes in because the TV stopped working and world war 3 is about to start if I don’t fix it soon.

9am  – Children are already on to their 3rd snack of the day, dishwasher not working properly and I need to start working on a presentation for an online Fashion conference but my laptop decides to be a pain and won’t charge up – panic mode slowly setting in.

11am – My energy levels are already starting to hit a low and we’re out of coffee. Scouring the internet for inspiration for my social media platforms – a necessary daily task but with two children who are constantly after my iPhone for gaming, it was certainly a tough challenge when in normal circumstances fashion and style research is one of the more enjoyable parts of my job!

1pm – Finally I’m making some headway with my fashion presentation (despite hearing “MUMMMMYYYY!!!” one thousand times in the background) Now time to think of something quick and creative to make for lunch, not easy with 2 very fussy eaters and a limited choice of preferred food options.

3pm – Family is fed and watered, two loads of laundry done – starting to lean towards feeling like an accomplished woman….  until I walk into the lounge to find the two-year-old has ripped out every single page of my favourite fashion book (which obviously I can’t re-order and receive anytime soon) – the playroom looks like a bomb went off and we’re out of nappy wipes! To top it all off the 9-year-old is hungry again and wants pizza…. Now where the hell am I going to get pizza?! A bowl of cherry tomatoes and an apple is more achievable right now

4pm – The mess has been attended to and I realise I haven’t had a drop of water all day. I retreat to the kitchen and cave into the urge of eating a range of unhealthy snacks and berate myself for missing that post-lunch home workout I had scheduled in. Extremely missing my daily workouts at the clubhouse gym.

5pm – Getting ready for an Instagram live session set up with a University in the UK – dabbing on concealer under my eyes not wanting to show the tiredness and distress on my face while trying to motivate and inspire a load of young aspiring creatives of the future.

6pm – Logging into my live session, locked myself in the spare bedroom for a few moments of quiet, only to hear constant knocking at the door and the sound of a tantrum coming from the other end of the apartment – hoping my husband (who has been locked away in what used to be MY home office) will step in at this point, I carry on with my live session as if nothing is going on in the background. I made it to the end, phew! But to say I was unhappy about all the unnecessary noise is an understatement.

7pm – Simple dinner of pasta and vegetables followed by chocolate biscuits.

7:30pm – Bedtime for the children – Hallelujah!! But 2-year-old won’t stop jumping on the bed and insists we sing “5 little monkeys jumping on the bed”  – the WHOLE song.

8:30pm – A million cups of water, 4 toilet trips, and 3 stories later the children are finally tucked up into bed. I still have tomorrow’s fashion story to prep for, garments to iron and box of accessories to hunt through – but at this point, I’m feeling totally exhausted, dehydrated and ready for a gin and tonic. I sit alone and listen to the silence (husband still working and nowhere to be seen)  – a moment of blissful peace, then the door creaks and the nine-year-old slowly creeps out … “I really miss my friends Mummy, when can I go back to school” he sobs with tears streaming down his face… my heart breaks.

8:45pm –I realise work will have to wait till tomorrow. Mummy is needed right now.

 

CHALLENGES

  • Sharing my laptop with my children 

  • No place to work as husband has stolen my workspace

  • Trying to write clear, concise work emails and messages while my children hound me for yet another snack

  • Cutting my shower short or not being able to shower at all because the tv/internet isn’t working and for toddlers that means the world has ended so I better come to the rescue quick!

  • About to take an important work call (that can’t be rescheduled) but just at that moment the baby’s diaper needs to be changed.

  • Finding the brain space to be creative in what I will cook with limited supplies and two very fussy eaters.

  • Trying to fit in an undisturbed workout for some well needed ‘me time’

  • Resisting the urge to retreat to the kitchen to eat unhealthy snacks just for a moment of escapism

  • Keeping my train of thought when writing a full length article in between diaper changing, mopping up mess, breaking up sibling quarrels and just being there to wipe away tears and give hugs.

  • Dealing with it going forward

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PREGNANT & QUARANTINED IN CHINA


By: Lisa R.

Type of expat: stay-at-home mom of 1, 24-37 weeks pregnant

 

My experience with Corona may differ a bit from the normal woman in Bangalore as I haven’t been here during any of it. I was based in Shanghai, China when it broke out in January 2020 and have spent the last three months essentially “running from Corona.” During that time, I have spent 7 days in my home (without stepping outside even once), undergone a government-mandated 14-day quarantine, taken 3 international flights, self-quarantined at my parents home for 14 days in California, spent 1 1/2 months away from husband, celebrated my son’s 6th birthday and given birth to a new baby.

Here is a breakdown of my time and suggestions that have helped me get through it all- *as of May 10th, my 6-year old son has not been in school since January 24th, please let that sink in.

Mid- end of January: Flu hits Shanghai schools, as I’m pregnant I already start wearing a mask to pick up and drop off my son, a few days later Corona breaks out and people start staying inside. We don’t leave our apartment for 7 days straight (thank you delivery services)

End of January: Leave Shanghai and fly to San Francisco with my son to spend time at my parents, with a return ticket for 3 weeks later. Spend first 2-weeks social distancing and refusing to see friends or family other than my parents and siblings who live at home

February- March: Still in California, as Shanghai and all of China is still on lockdown (schools closed) and most of my friends have left. My husband flies to the US to visit for a week before heading back to Shanghai as his offices re-open mid-February.

March: Enroll my 6-year-old in school in California for one month after 39 days out of school. He attends 7 days before California closes schools. We leave San Francisco via Taipei back to Shanghai mid-March and land in Shanghai as California has issued a Shelter in Place order

March 18-April 1: Government-mandated quarantine (home quarantine was still allowed at that time), government escort home, welcomed back by a hazmat team, we have a sensor put on our door, cannot open it more than 5 times a day, have our trash collected separately, must send temperatures to a doctor twice a day and spend 14 non-stop days indoors.

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During this time, I learned this:

  • PJs are okay to wear all day, the occasional shower every 2 days is good though 🙂

  • I saved a ton of my makeup by not wearing any, and my face probably thanked me for it

  • Classic card games are a ton of fun, especially nightly tournaments

  • Except for Monopoly. I hate Monopoly 

  • Zoom calls are a great excuse to get made up… don’t always keep your camera off

  • My son caught up with friends around the world on what was sometimes a 5-hour Facetime Playdate (tip: grab an old phone and set up your Facetime account for your kid so you still get your phone)

  • This was a great time to catch up on 3 years of backlogged scrapbooking. I also decided to stop scrapbooking after this.

  • It’s a great time to start a project, or don’t. It’s also okay. I never did get around to labeling the medicine by expiration date. Who cares.

  • Screen time is inevitable for kids. I started to set a limit of X hours a day,  and made my son decide how to allocate it. The good thing is he realized how valuable a minute was, the bad thing was I was the one who had to calculate it, “How much time do I have left if I use 18 and a half minutes? What about 19 minutes?” I also started to bribe him with extra time and punish him (and ultimately myself) by taking away time for bad behavior

  • Being pregnant during this has made me appreciate being able to go to the doctor or hospital for every little thing like I usually do. When hospitals closed in January (you had to go to a special Covid clinic only) I realized that it was a luxury to just book an appointment whenever I usually wanted. Of course, it was scary as well, imagining the possibility of a medical emergency and being exposed to the virus by visiting a hospital.

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Lucky for us, once our quarantine ended, Shanghai was pretty much back to normal with the exception of schools being open. Everyone still expects everyone to wear masks except at F&B locations, and temperature checks are done to enter almost any building, plus Shanghai has an intricate Health Code QR system that ensures someone who has been abroad or even domestically has done their quarantine. 

 

The best advice I can give everyone else outside of China who are a few stages behind in this crazy Covid-19 time is to not have expectations of when things will open or “return to normal.” Expect the worst, be happy if it’s better than that. It was devastating during those early weeks to see things being pushed back further and further, but now with the mindset that my son won’t go to school until after summer, that China’s borders may not open until December and that my family won’t get to meet their new grandson until next year, I may be thrilled if things turn out better than that. On another note, I try not to feel sorry for myself and remember that I am one of the lucky ones and how so many have more serious troubles now.

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