Back with another group, we asked women in Bangalore to document “a day in the life of lockdown” in their worlds, their challenges, ther ups and downs and their tips.
LOCKDOWN LIFE OF A PHOTOGRAPHER MUM
Type of expat: full time mum of two girls and a fur baby, professional photographer at Artography by T and football goalie for local women team!
I have to admit that this lockdown has been a blur of sorts. Days have turned into weeks and months nearly. Some days have been painfully slow and some others were gone in a jiffy. Mostly been a lockdown of privilege for my family and I. We’ve all be healthy and happy through most of it with bouts of doom and gloom. We moved to India 3 years ago and this is the first time we’ve actually had enough time to enjoy our home in India, spent quality and quantity time with each other and didn’t have a daily routine. That itself is a rare feature in our household. Our weekdays start at 6.30 am with all of us rushing to get ready and out of the house. I play mum taxi service all day ferrying the kids around to school and back and then after school activities. I spend nearly 5 hours a day on the road in traffic simply because we chose to stay where we stay for the love of the house and chose to send the kids to the school they go to for the love of the school. We thought like proper Dubai returned families. Traffic was hardly an issue there and have visited the school and our new to be home at nonpeak hours, the drive didn’t seem like a big deal. Boy were we in for a shock! Repatriation lesson number was learned then: The city and its traffic has changed since you left 14 years ago. Don’t think with your Dubai brain of 30km in 35 minutes! Bit late on the take so 3 years later.. same house, same school, and nearly 2 hours getting there and back each way. Joy!
Come lockdown, I did a happy dance thinking yippee!!! No sore backside for a few days but soon enough my backside got bored. Missed the traffic, our everyday routine, the rush every morning to drop kids, coffee on my drive there and back, rush to get home and get my edits done from shoots I do on the weekends, workout, football training on my one morning a week reprieve when my husband does drop off, mad busy weekend nights, weekend days filled with shoots, play dates, and sports. Weekend nights starting with mums night out with her mates of Friday nights so that she can rejuvenate for the week ahead. Everything came to a standstill. Who in the world thought that our lives would come down to birthday zoom calls and virtual cake cutting, petrified rush to the stores to buy groceries for the week and panic on when we would run out of gas. We had to learn to clean our own pool and had to deal with proper first world problems of no chlorine and a busted pool filter. My whole life came to a standstill for a few days when my grandad who I loved dearly passed away a few weeks into the lockdown. The anxiety of not having a pass to get there and back for the funeral took center stage as opposed to my mourning his loss.
That’s when I fell back on my passion and profession which is photography. I started documenting our kids and their activities, as I would have done for clients as a lifestyle photographer. Day in and out I’ve had my camera on standby capturing the kids doing their thing. Never have I had as much appreciation for the home help we have. They’ve just managed and maintained the house to perfection while I did the occasional cooking, cleaning and baking to give them a break. Just the photography and time spent with the kids was still bothering me as I felt like I had a few more hours to give in a day towards a rightful cause since the house and cooking were being taken care of. Got involved with volunteering for a covid relief group, validating requests for them. That was the most humbling experience in all these weeks. Gave me a huge sense of gratitude and appreciation. Everything I complained about was paled in comparison to what I heard everyday over the phone talking to daily wage workers. We managed to provide thousands of people without income their provisions for a few weeks and that filled my heart with immense joy. So yes I kept myself busy with my photography, keeping the kids entertained, spent 2-3 hours a day on COVID relief work, did home workouts and even managed to watch a few movies and series once the kids were in bed. I’m not sure how long more this will go on for but I’m not worried anymore. We’ve been lucky to live in a city where we are safer than most parts of the world. I try not to think about what if’s and just take one day at a time and will continue to do so should this lockdown be extended.
A DAY IN THE LIFE IN PHOTOGRAPHS
LEARNINGS FOR ME DURING THIS LOCKDOWN:
Give each other a lot of space to be ourselves. This was not a fun situation for any of us… deadly virus lurking around, not being able to lead a normal life, worried about family and friends and the list is endless so every one of us in our household went through peaks and troughs with our emotions.
Best way to pull yourself out of a funk is to do a reality check of what we have versus what more than half the world doesn’t.
Go back to my once a week grocery shopping rather than ordering everything online. Had to stop relying on online groceries to feed my family.
Ration my wine and vodka and drink responsibly once or twice a week. Realised that it’s very easy to use alcohol as a crutch and the effects of it are shown instantly on your body and mind.
Exercise everyday because those 10,000 steps I was attempting to cover were not happening. Nothing like a good workout to make you feel great. The kids joined me almost everyday so it became a fun thing to do together.
Put mother’s guilt on a back burner. You are in the exact same situation as them. Answering about a 100 “yes” and “no” questions are not fun but necessary as a parent. My 10 year old will politely say, “Excuse me mamma” but my 5-year-old is constant with her ask. They have tested my patience to the maximum limit in this lockdown(rolling eyes). A few weeks in, I just made sure I got some time to myself every evening and at noon when I did my volunteer work. There was a rule of don’t disturb mamma because she’s working on helping the needy. Very hard otherwise for me to say no to the kids and focus on my stuff without feeling any guilt.
Eat home cooked healthy meals and not order out. Probably ordered out 3 times, this entire lockdown.
Embraced the fact that I needed a good moan about everything once in a while and unleashed my doom and gloom on my best friends and let them comfort me. Made myself available to their emotional needs as well. We just picked each other up whenever we needed it.
Enjoyed all the online activities that my favourite Sisters in Sweat group had carefully put together to keep our bodies and mind fit and active. This is one thing I took for granted before lockdown and now have huge appreciation for.
Document my kids lives through photos. Thats the only way I can remember every detail of how their eyes twinkled when they felt love, how their faces looked when they were bored, how much pleasure a chocolate in their mouth gave them amongst other things. Every little expression of theirs was different from the previous one.
Desperate times calls for desperate measures. Rules on screen time went out of the window. Sleep timings for the kids went from 7pm to 9pm because none of us wanted to wake up early or so we thought. Little is still up every morning at 6.30 bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, standing in front of my face; waking me up with a fright on most days. Buttttt its all ok. Everything will be back to the usual soon enough or so I hope.
Coffee was invented for mums to get through the day. I may have consumed easily a litre of it everyday and that’s ok as well… just coffee not wine hey! So no hangover
Lastly, this is never going to be a way of life for any of us. Honestly, felt a little bit like school summer holidays with the kids at home all the time but with no travel or meeting friends. Yes, I can’t wait for this to end but I think I’ll miss the all-day cuddles and madness. It’s been nice to have had a few months of life on pause.
THE AMERICAN TEEN’S SURVIVAL GUIDE FOR INDIAN LOCKDOWN
By: Averie A.
Type of expat: homeschooled (even before lockdown) teenager
Time has almost no meaning anymore. My body is more confused than when adjusting to a 12-hour time zone difference. Sleeping, waking, and eating times can differ by anywhere from minutes to hours day-to-day. Before quarantine, I had a decently nailed-down schedule. It went out the window somewhere around day three of voluntary quarantine, but who needs it anyway?
On any given day, waking up could happen anywhere from 8 am to 11 am (morning is subjective, am I right?). Regardless of the time, my days have a sloooowwww start. After all, there’s no reason to rush out of bed if you have no place to be. I generally spend the first half-hour or so checking in with friends back home (home being America, which has a super fun 10.5-hour time difference, meaning it’s easiest to talk to them in the morning and at night), checking Instagram, Snapchat, and scrolling through Tiktok.
Once I’m actually up, I grab a quick breakfast and start on school. I homeschool, which really just means school for me has fewer time restraints and I’m already used to doing things alone and online. Oh and we get the added bonus of watching everyone else try not to kill each other over the extra time together. After a few hours, I take a break to practice piano and eat lunch, which can be eaten anywhere from 11:30 am to 2 pm. As previously mentioned, time has no meaning, so why should meals be exempt?
THAT PERIOD BETWEEN LUNCH AND DINNER
After lunch, I do another hour of school and then break to sketch for about an hour. Then, onto more piano followed by baking. Once whatever I’ve made is baking, I read or do more school. After it’s out of the oven, I continue reading or doing homework depending on what I have left to do. Then, it’s time for my least favorite part of the day: working out. This is followed by more school (if necessary) and then dinner, which, again, has no set time. It could be at 5:45. It could be at 8:30. Your guess is as good as mine.
My post-dinner routine generally includes watching tv with my mother, and is almost always accompanied by ice cream (really though, who would’ve thought the easiest way to convince your parents to let you eat an unholy amount of ice cream would be a global pandemic?). This ends when either she is tired enough or I am bored enough to leave. Once more, this could be anywhere from 7pm to 10:30 because (say it with me) time has no meaning!
Whenever said time comes, I go back to my room and attempt to find a way to entertain myself. This comes in any form I can possibly think of. I message or facetime friends back home (whose schedules are as varied as mine and may very well not wake up until I’m asleep), check Instagram, watch Tiktoks, watch a youtube video or two (or maybe twelve), check Snapchat, watch more Tiktoks, read, watch Netflix or Disney+, watch Tiktoks, listen to music and stare at the ceiling, watch Tiktoks, draw again, and (you guessed it) watch more Tiktoks. It’s worth mentioning I threw out any and all reservations about screen time out the window when this all began. My time could include any number of the previously mentioned activities depending on the night. Bedtime could be anywhere from 11 pm to 2 am, which, funnily enough, is very similar to life before quarantine. For me, the bizarre sleep schedule is actually rather convenient. I mean, what’s to stop me from joining a Zoom call with a group of friends back home at 3 am if it doesn’t matter when I sleep?
Basically, being a teen during quarantine is full of school and random hobbies you previously didn’t have the time for and Tiktok. It’s full of not knowing the day or the time or even the month. It is full of books that previously sat untouched on the shelf and appreciating Netflix like never before. It is full of facetiming your friends more than you originally thought possible. It is mind-numbingly boring sometimes, but, hey, it’s a hell of a lot better than dying.
THE LOCKDOWN DAYS OF A BANGALORE BUSINESS OWNER AND MOM
By: Chelsea J.
Type of expat: mom, business owner
When it comes to talking about the day-to-day life of a businesswoman (my husband and I run a restaurant chain called Habibi Falafel, and yes we deliver!) and a mama to an 11-month old son, the days definitely go by in a blur. I wake up on Monday and before I know it I’m saying, “wow is it really Friday already?”. Then I check my phone and realize it’s actually Sunday, because, let’s face it, nobody knows what day it is anymore.
My day to day routine since the lockdown began the end of March at first made me feel like I was in a vicious cycle of cooking and cleaning, but somehow it became a norm that I’m now used to. Don’t get me wrong, I cried more than a few times while washing the seemingly never-ending pile of dirty dishes, but I am finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel (and the pending return of our beloved house help).
So how have I fit in business while being a stay at home mom? The truth is, as many of you know, it is not easy at all. I do as much as I can when baby is sleeping, but my husband has had to take on 99.999% of the stress of running a business with all of the stresses of the current economy. I’ve taken more of a backseat and have become his emotional support more than ever to battle the tough times we’re inevitably facing as business owners.
Now I could go on to talk about how stressful things have been, but instead, I want to talk about 5 little things that I’ve implemented into my routine to keep me going.
1. Limiting time on social media apps.
15 minutes total for the entire day. I realized scrolling through Instagram and Facebook wasn’t sparking joy, but I still needed them for work, so I kept them at a manageable limit.
2. Not pressuring myself to learn to become a five-star chef.
If I look around it seems everyone is honing their newfound cooking and baking skills. Meanwhile, I’m at home boiling pasta and smashing chickpeas onto sourdough bread and calling it “hummus”. If it wasn’t for baby having to get nutritionally balanced meals, I would probably eat a bowl of cereal for every meal.
Lunchtime! It’s not a Leela Brunch, but at least I’ve got a cute date.
3. Getting outside.
Before lockdown, I used to go on long walks every day while baby napped because my house help was able to hold down the fort. Once help was banned and walking was prohibited in my community I thought I would lose my mind! After the initial shock of losing my daily dose of fresh air, I added some plants to the balcony and made it our little escape.
Bird’s eye view of calm and serene Bangalore.
4. Every movement counts.
If anything I’ve learned from the lockdown, it’s that physical activity doesn’t have to be done in a gym. I spent the first couple of weeks moping (with banana bread as solace) that I couldn’t get back to my very newly established gym routine, but then I realized, I may be confined to an apartment, but I’m definitely not sedentary. Sweeping, mopping, running room to room after baby, etc. all count as physical movement! Also, when time permits and we feel like it, my husband and I have been trying to work out together by watching a youtube video or curling some water bottles.
5. Finding time to FaceTime, Zoom, WhatsApp video.
I absolutely HATE talking on the phone, and video calls are definitely not something I look forward to, but in a world of isolation, I actually found myself enjoying video calls. It’s been nice to have a good excuse to catch up with friends and family worldwide, something that I used to reserve only for special occasions.
Those are my 5 items, but if I want to summarize something I’ve learned in my time in lockdown in one phrase – “Don’t be too hard on yourself”. Some days we wake up ready to conquer the world (from home) and other days we feel like vegging out and binge-watching “Too Hot to Handle” on Netflix. Some days we want to follow a gourmet recipe we saw on Instagram and other days we order take out. Every choice we make is OKAY as long as we are appreciating what’s truly important – the people we have shared this (hopefully) once in a lifetime experience with.
‘SHANTAY YOU STAY’ LOCKDOWN SUMMARY OF A QUEENAGER (1/2)
By: Jana H.
Type of expat: mom of 2, Bangalore Mask Project Co-Founder
Remember wishing the weekend would last forever? Happy now? And also, while we are on it, how many of you said life would be back to normal within 2-3 weeks? Could you please raise your hands? And now slap yourself… sure Karen, shit could be worse. But guess what, shit could be way better too.
The level of restrictions and challenges do vary for each individual depending on where they are incarcerated/ located but don’t we all ask ourselves from time to time “How did I end up here?” “What on Earth happened to my life?”. Well, lockdown life brings up these questions for me on a pretty much daily basis. So without further ado, let me take you through my average day.
Blursday the fourtyteenth of maprilay
NAMASTAY IN BED – THE VERY EARLY MORNING
My well-established lockdown morning routine starts every single day with denial. Well, if you envisioned me throwing away the duvet covers and floating energetically onto my yoga mat doing some chanting, yoga and meditations I would have totally loved to write that down but the reality was a tad different. I am still not willing to acknowledge it’s already time to leave my super comfortable bed- some things will never change, right? We have all been reading enthusiastically loads of those candy-colored, super suggestive, #inspirational posts about how a #healthymindset will help us survive this time transforming us into much better, #wellbalanced persons. Daily positive affirmations right after waking up are in the top recommendation zone to help set the best possible mood. Let me tell y’all I really, really tried hard. My husband (witness to 21 years full of trial and error working on myself for myself and … well I think you got the point ) told me very boldly that I obviously got no talent after he heard me chanting: “Britney survived 2007 so Jana, you can totally handle this day without doing anything traumatic to your hair…”. ….(…)… Well, I just decided to postpone trying to be a well balanced and positive member of the society for post-lockdown and to just get up, throw over my bathrobe and slink directly into the bathroom…
ME TIME… HAHAHA – STILL VERY EARLY MORNING
So it’s still pretty early in the morning in the bathroom, taking up my toothbrush and bäääähmmm- I am confronted with a lifesize mirror which, wherever I had been living, happened to be located next to my scale.
Thank you midlife crisis interior architect dating a 20-year-old forgetting about the struggles of the common not-so-young crowd…. I am 40 this year and well, other queenagers might be able to relate when I say it’s neither the time nor the place for full-body close-ups and the caption #iwokeuplikethis, at least not in the Instagram worthy #mybodyisatemple kind of way. Oh my gaaawwwddddd with the lockdown in week 9 I am increasingly unsure if it’s scarier to take my temperature or to weigh myself. But #winning because besides all the neat, vibrant colored inspirational social media posts aiming to motivate us to be fit and living #ourbestlife, becoming #fitinstamom and a #fitinspo, there is now this abundant amount of clean skincare at home tutorials with all the #iwokeuplikethis woman explaining us how we gotta scrub scruuuubb scruuuuuuuuub our bodies with a mix of raw egg (ewww), honey, yoghurt leaving them all #glowing. Not only from the outside but also from the inside because while we scrub scruuuuubbb scruuuuubbbing we are also manifesting and counting all our blessings and ….. screeeeeeeeeeeeetch ….wait… is this my toddler screaming my name and dang did that obnoxious chihuahua just licked the bowl with my home spa body scrub….? Whatever, I better be off to the kids realm as fast as I can.
APOCOLYPSE NOW – STILL THE SAME VERY EARLY MORNING
Get children they said , it will be fun they said. In lockdown, all those comments seem to find their way back to me and I am starting to question my life choices. So obviously, while having the 2,5 minutes of me time in the bathroom, I totally missed out on the early acoustic warning signals from my toddler’s room. It’s safe to say she used her time very efficiently, turning her fairy realm upside down. The look of it isn’t for the faint-hearted and wow (#milestonemoment #proudmom) she mastered to actually unscrew the tube with zinc cream and gave herself and all her dolls, plush bears, floors and most of the walls a good big helping of it (ahhhhhh)…#alexapleasestopmefromgivingthemupforadoption. While contemplating whether I should just burn down the room right away or start attempting to save it my dear #beloved husband returns from his 1 hour morning bike ride, casually blowing a kiss in my direction while striding confidently and walking towards the shower ( #fitspiration). I am #sohappy he got some me-time under his quarantine belt. Actually, no, I am cursing him, questioning once again my life choices, while changing beddings, scraping down the zinc from all the surfaces, trying to catch my toddler to put on a diaper to avoid more accidents and, I gotta admit, longing for the good old before lockdown times when I knew in another 30 minutes #myeverythings would have been on their way to school and playschool and mommy could return to bed.
#THISISWHYWEDRINK – HOMESCHOOLING
It may take a village to raise a child but it clearly is going to take a vineyard to homeschool it. The only thing I’d like to add to this paragraph is that once my kids are #backtoschool absolutely every day will be teachers appreciation day. You know, I just realized that – at least in my son’s case – the teacher never was the actual problem. Currently, on a normal weekday between 9am and 3pm, 98 of my 99 problems are evolving around my #puberteen, with me trying desperately to not only teach him manners but also mathematics, physics, history, french (and all of those other important subjects I did my level best trying to forget) so he can hopefully one day be able to provide for himself. Bruh, homeschooling isn’t my thing. I actually would rather watch paint dry than engage ever again in my children’s school activities #blessedbe #instamom.
LIVING THE DREAM – QUARANTINED WITH A TALKATIVE TODDLER
“When life gets blurry adjust your focus” – heck Karen how do you find the time to post those inspirational and somewhat offensive quotes while winning momhood like the 2020 Mary Poppins? Showing off a spotless home, washed and well behaved toddler twins, two honor roll teenagers and your perfectly trained golden retriever. Doling out NON STOP Michelin star-worthy #wholesome meals, sharing your #pinteresty #instastories with the world, while looking picture perfect with that subtle is she pregnant or on prozac kind of glow at any given time of the day. Over here at my place mediocre is the new perfect. Just kidding, not even mediocre. Our house looks like a battlezone mainly because we haven’t panic cleaned in a while and it’s starting to show #sorrynotsorry. And things are not working exactly the way I planned them. Cleaning with alcohol for example is total bullshit because absolutely nothing gets done after that first bottle of booze. Also our fur baby and toddler are ganging up, giving us Bonnie and Clyde the lockdown version and they are admirably fast, thorough and creative. Opportunities are identified and executed immediately. Any loss of visual contact with the parental unit means venturing out and breaking things with lightning speed or starting little science projects, like for example proving that “even broken crayons still paint”, mostly on my living room walls (OH I HATE THIS QUOTE KAREN). My toddler also never stops talking and gets her 20,000 words in by breakfast- well played karma, well played. My favorite three words to hear: “I want daddy”. Ha!
Yaaas girl, one down, but there would is always her furry partner in crime that is still up to trouble, trying to dominate us by peeing on my lovely pink handcrafted rug. The only #itpiece we owned for the house now stinks of dog pee that is resistant to just about any cleaner I pour on it.
But let’s get back to “the grass is always greener” side of this paragraph and return to all the immaculate Karens of this world. Looks uhmmm… the husband wears his bright red soccer kit (shirt and trouser) day in and day out while explaining to me how nicely it keeps him dry from all the sweat. Wait… full stop…what sweat ?! He is locked in his home office aka the sanctuary all day long. Sweat? What the hell is he talking about #tohaveandtoholdJanatohaveandtohold. And here is me – looking like a homeless person and sporting the “never resting bitch face” This would generally not be a problem in this scenario, except I live in a gated community and have the joy of participating in delivery runs…
TO BE CONTINUED NEXT WEEK