Our last post of this lockdown diary series, we asked another group of women in Bangalore to document “a day in the life of lockdown” in their worlds, their challenges, ther ups and downs and their tips.
A QUARANTINE DAY IN THE LIFE OF MOM OF THE YEAR
By: Jessica D.
Type of expat: full time working mom of 1
You know that meme on Facebook that says “I’m not an early bird or a night owl. I am some form of permanently exhausted pigeon”? That’s me summed up in two short sentences. My schedule is wonky. Has been since we came to India. So, for the sake of this article, let’s assume the day starts at the stroke of midnight.
12am – About now, I’m watching TV with the hubbs. Looking to head up to bed within the half-hour.
12:30-3am – Winding down. This is my time to scroll to the ends of “the book”, catch up on houses for sale in the US, and play a few hours of Rise of Empires. I am not remotely tired. I pop my meds, including melatonin and pray sleepiness to come.
3am-5am – I’ve put down the device and I’m tying to will myself to sleep. I toss and I turn and I toss and I turn. Sometimes I have a visitor sneak into my bed (which I love and hate all at the same time). It’s like sleeping with an octopus, so these nights are exceptionally hard.
7:30am – Hubbs and kiddo are up and getting ready for the “school day”. I mutter some incoherent I love you before he leaves the room. I roll over for the best portion of my sleep.
12pm – It is time to get up! I roll over and look at my phone for longer than I should. I lazily get out of bed. If I don’t shower, I at least clean up and put on fresh clothes. Something to feel human.
1pm – I greet the family at last! Kiddo is likely causing hubbs grief by goofing off during “school”. There’s some yelling and unpleasant tones, which sets me off in a great direction (this is dripping with sarcasm). I help where I can, but usually, I just get in the way by overriding or repeating what hubbs has just said.
1:30pm – I’ve told the kiddo for the last time to stop playing with her toys during her Microsoft Teams session. Getting up to take the toy from her, I stumble on a lego. Infuriated, I take her toy (a lego “bunkbed” created by my little master builder) and toss it across the room. SMASH. SCREAMS. STORMING AWAY. DOORS SLAMMING.
1:35pm – I’m pissed off! Kiddo is crying in her playroom and I’m realizing what I have done. Though I am still enraged. I don’t feel finished. So I sweep our 1,000 piece puzzle project from the table to the floor, and the other table, and under the couch. Pieces are everywhere.
1:37pm – I lean against the front door to the villa and slide to the floor. Sobbing. Full-on ugly cry. Who am I? Why this rage? Rage that I haven’t felt in YEARS. I sob and sob and sob.
1:40pm – I muster the strengths to get up. I head to the bedroom.
2pm – I should be logging into work now, but I can’t. I lay on the bed hoping sleep will save me. Thankfully it does…
5pm – I hang my head in shame heading back to the family room. I collect my kiddo and my hubby for a family talk. I explain my bad behavior and that there was no excuse for my outburst. I explain to kiddo the importance of her school and paying attention. I again reiterate that her behavior is NOT an excuse for mine. We agreed that we both behaved poorly and that we both need to do better. We hug. I shed a few more tears, and we move on.
6pm – Kiddo plays with the neighborhood kids for a little bit.
6:45pm – Dinner together and some quiet family time.
8pm – Bedtime routine begins.
9pm-12pm – Typically I am working, but tonight I drown my sorrows in some extra television.
12am – It is a new day, a better day.
Is this a typical day in the life of my family? Certainly not. Thankfully not. However, I found that sharing this day in writing is something sort of therapeutic. It is a way of saying this is hard. This day is not representative of who I am as a mom, a wife, a human being? Living in impossible circumstances, even in comfort, is an incredible challenge that we were never trained to handle. Some days, the situation truly gets the best of you, like this day did for me. It isn’t always something big that sets you off. It can be the tiniest event, then BAM all of the stresses you have been holding in all come spilling out at once.
I share this for me, but also for anyone out there who has seen such days. You are not alone. None of us are perfect. We can only do what we can do. Find happiness and calm wherever you can. Stay strong, lean on others when you are not. We got this mama!
Note: A very special shout out to my incredible hubbs and my kiddo Hubbs is a rock and supports me in every way. This challenging time hasn’t been easy on us, but together we are stronger. I could not survive this life, quarantine or not, without him by my side. As for my kiddo, she is awesome. She is fun and spunky and brings a life to our house that cannot be matched. She is my treasure and my gift to the world. I couldn’t be more happy to be her mama.
LIVING ALONE IN LOCKDOWN
By: Shehzia L.
Type of woman: country director of India, Amani Institute
My doorbell rings at 1:15am. It’s Monday 18th May, and I was hoping to get a good night’s sleep before starting my work week. Who on earth could it be at this time of the night? Living alone has some crazy moments – fear of opening the door at 1:15 am is one of them! It has now been over 60 days since I’ve been alone at home. Crazy thoughts in the middle of the night are now my friend. But the doorbell definitely worries me. But before I get to that, let me tell you a little bit more about how the past 60 days have been for me.
I was in Chennai over the weekend of 13th March, celebrating my birthday with my sister and her 7-month-old daughter, both of whom bring me much joy in my life. I got back to Bangalore on the 16th of March, very impressed with the cleanliness and safety standards of the Chennai-Bangalore Shatabdi. Soon, news of a nation-wide lockdown came to light and I decided to spend my lockdown days alone at home in Bangalore (what I’m already used to doing) instead of booking tickets to Pune where my parents are, much to their dismay. Through the 60 days, there have been many moments where I questioned my decision about not going to Pune, but despite all the craziness of going through this alone, I still stand by my decision of not putting their lives at risk due to my recent travel. So here’s a little bit about what it’s like being completely alone for 2 months of lockdown.
Week of 16th March: While the nation-wide lockdown wasn’t announced yet, we started working from home from the 16th itself. We have a very flexible work culture at Amani Institute and usually work from home once or twice a week anyway, so this definitely wasn’t something too new for us. The first week went quite smoothly; house help was still around and the only thing on my mind at that point of time was the decision to book tickets to Pune or not. You now know how that turned out 🙂
Week of 23rd March: The introvert in me was really enjoying this. Keyword: was. I woke up on Friday that week wanting to be surrounded by 50 people, and it didn’t matter if I knew them or not! Ok, maybe that’s an exaggeration, but you get my point! I was craving company beyond my phone and laptop screen.
The rest of my weeks have been spent enjoying my ‘me time’ and cursing everyone who posted about ‘me time’; so I’m sparing you the details and not getting into a week-by-week recount of that. What helped me maintain my sanity through this time is work, and yes, I’m aware of how lucky I am to be one of those people who loves their work and actually enjoys doing it!
I lead the India office for Amani Institute, a global non-profit organization whose mission is developing professionals who create social impact with their careers. We create this impact via innovative models of higher education that help individuals acquire the practical skills, personal growth, and networks to take on modern-day social challenges. Our work has been largely affected due to Covid-19, as most of our revenue is dependent on our in-person, highly experiential capacity building programs. Being an organization that teaches innovation for a living, it was now more important than ever before to apply our innovation framework to ourselves. What a fantastic 2 months it has been!
I started off the lockdown completely shaken up about the huge impact on our business model and the harsh reality of the year ahead of us. But it was not long before we all got back to the drawing board and started thinking up plan b, plan c and so on. What a time to be alive! We’ve been doing so much research on 21st century, future-focused skills for the past few years and the relevance of our content is even more needed now than before. We’ve managed to move a lot of our programs online, including our Post-Graduate program in Social Innovation Management as a special edition; something I wouldn’t have imagined doing 3 months ago.
So while the lockdown took getting used to, I’ve realised that it’s also helped unlock hidden innovative ideas and personal strengths that I didn’t know I was capable of. And while I still have my bad days, I’m eternally grateful that I have a support system of friends, family and colleagues who come to my rescue on every single video call platform and multiple virtual game platforms out there!
Here’s a post from March, on our office ‘social’ slack channel, which we’ve used to keep each other motivated through these tough times:
Here’s what’s keeping me semi-sane nowadays:
My exercise machine which I’m finally using regularly!
Alexa, my new best friend (I don’t know if I should laugh or cry about this!)
Nice green views from my window
Video calls with my niece Mirai
Oh, and before I forget, that doorbell was my watchman. My tap which is connected to my washing machine had come loose and was spurting high-pressure water all over my balcony. Lockdown excitement never ends 🙂
LOCKDOWN LIFE OF A MASTERS STUDENT LIVING IN BANGALORE
By: Tiggy A.
Type of expat: I’m not sure! Bangalorean for 5 years, currently studying for a remote Masters Degree
This is the story of one particular day in lockdown. It was a Saturday in early April, and I woke up at 7 AM feeling anxious. Without really acknowledging this, I decided to make fresh pasta. I’ve been watching the Pasta Grannies YouTube channel for a while now and brought a pasta machine to Bangalore with me after my last trip to the UK. It feels especially poignant today, as the night before I was reading about Italy, and what a difficult time they are having there. Someone said ‘we are losing a whole generation of elderly people’ and I wonder about the amazing women who make fresh pasta by hand every day, who carry a large part of Italy’s culinary traditions in their heads and hands – the Pasta Grannies.
Today I set out the atta and maida and measure it into cups. We bought this flour in the wholesale supermarket a couple of weeks ago – a big 10 kg bag of atta and 5 kgs of maida. It was around the beginning of the pandemic panic kicking off and was a surreal shopping experience. We wore masks, queued one metre apart, and our temperatures were checked, with a thermometer gun to our head, on entering the shop. The staff sanitised the trolley handles and squirted it onto our hands, before finally letting us through. It felt a bit like Armageddon inside, busy with people loading huge packets of maggi into their trolleys, and buckets of dry dal. We stocked up on basics – rice, dal, oil, maggi (for Jacob, my partner, who loves it), masalas, atta & maida. At the time, this felt over-the-top, but one-week later lockdown was announced, and supply chains temporarily snapped.
Today, I feel like that stress was worth it because now I have this flour in my hands. I heap it onto the table and make a well in the middle of the pile. I crack eggs into a bowl and lift the yolks out into the mixture. I wonder about the availability of eggs in the lockdown, and whether I’m using up our final supply. Is pasta a sensible use of them? I don’t know. There is a lot of uncertainty at this point and the idea of not being able to find fresh foods is scary. I know this is something my doctor-nurse parents are worried about– they advise us to buy multi-vitamins just in case. Ironically, we never saw empty shelves like they have in the UK.
Outside the window, the neighbourhood children start practicing their singing with a guitarist who only knows one song—that happens to provide the tune for both the hymn We Shall Overcome and the Indian patriotic song, Hum Honge Kamiyab. This can get a bit repetitive although I have to say, they’ve gotten much better after two weeks of doing this every. single. day. Today, I need variety though, so before my hands get all sticky, I put on my headphones and set off a favourite playlist.
I start mixing the dough. This is the part of pasta-making which demonstrates the shortcomings of the internet. Impossible to learn online or in books. Luckily just before the lockdown I went to a cooking class by Mama T’s Kitchen – Tori is a friend, and I learnt more about dough in one afternoon with her than all my YouTube time put together. Gauging whether the dough is too wet, too dry, needs more of something – that is the skill. I start thinking about all the lockdown upskilling I am starting to see on Instagram, and the sourdough workshop with The Odd Gumnut that I’ve signed up to next weekend – I’ve always wanted to be able to bake without yeast, and now seems like a good time to learn.
Once the dough is mixed, it needs to be kneaded. This is my favourite part. It is extremely therapeutic, and my mind wanders as I stand up and start kneading the dough with the heel of my hand. As I squeeze down, I feel my shoulders relax, like in a good yoga session. I’ve been doing online yoga classes and enjoying them a lot. The night before, my friend from the UK advertised a yoga class and I signed up. She just qualified to teach before the outbreak and this is her first time teaching online. This reminds me of everyone who has lost their jobs and livelihood and I feel very blessed for the situation me and my partner are in, as work at his start-up TerreGeneration.com has continued.
Now the dough, and I, need to rest. I brew myself a pot of my favourite coffee – Black Baza ‘Otter’ and relax. One of my biggest thanks to the universe at the moment is about my parents. Firstly, they came to Bangalore to visit me and Jacob and meet his family in January – a lovely holiday, and now they can picture our house and Jacob’s family home in Kerala, and know I’m safe. They flew back through Singapore just as they were entering a lockdown, getting home just in time. Secondly, they both retired just before their trip. They are both medical – my Dad is a GP (General Practitioner) and Mum a former nurse. I am so glad they have not had to go back to work (Dad is high risk) and they are safe at home.
After 30 minutes, the dough and I have rested enough, and I can start making shapes. I decide on Longetti, a twisted loop of pasta, for my first shape. It looks like a nautical knot. Fiddly to make but very satisfying. I start thinking about my friends who have been sailing across the Atlantic. They have been on an epic adventure since Christmas, travelling from the UK to Columbia without flights to reduce their carbon footprint. When Coronavirus started spreading, they were sailing across the Atlantic on a 40-foot yacht with no news about the state of the world. They reached some tiny Caribbean islands, after 4 months of low carbon travel, and had to make the gut-wrenching decision to fly to Columbia. As it turns out, they reached Medellin one day before a nationwide lockdown, so are thankfully safe and well, if a bit disoriented.
Many Longetti knots later, I’m getting tired. So, I whip out my pasta machine and make some Tagliatelle. This is definitely less creative, but I am infinitely more productive. I’m in the end stages of a masters thesis and strangely, the lockdown has been great for my studies. I’ve started valuing having something to do each day, with markers of success I can measure myself with. Without it, I think I would feel a bit useless. My thesis has had to be restructured because of Covid-19 and the university has announced online vivas, which is great for me – no need to fly back to the UK just for that. I feel a bit guilty about these benefits of the pandemic for me as an individual though, especially when the massive migrant labourer crisis has started hitting headlines in India. 100 million people is a lot of people to manage when making plans to lock the country down, and pictures of the exodus are heart-breaking.
Soon, I’m finished. I take off my headphones and start clearing up, and Jacob asks me if I’m okay. I look confused and he tells me that I have been making pasta for 6 hours now, without really realising it. I set the water for boil, throw in the pasta. I made a huge batch of tomato sauce last week, in anticipation of fresh veg being scarcer, and I mix the cooked pasta into this, adding a ladle of the starchy water to loosen it up. We sit down to eat the ultimate comfort meal – and just like that, I feel miles better.
‘SHANTAY YOU STAY’ LOCKDOWN SUMMARY OF A QUEENAGER (2/2)
By: Jana H.
Type of expat: mom of 2, Bangalore Mask Project Co-Founder
CONTINUED FROM LAST WEEK (here)
THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS – DELIVERIES BEFORE, DURING AND AFTER LUNCHTIME
A new super fun hobby surfaced while being quarantined. We now have to participate in delivery runs #runmommytrun. With most things being delivered via online ordering, an email became the only sign of confirmation that essential goods might or might not be on their way. In the beginning of the lockdown they wouldn’t even have named a date or time because well, you’re home right? A few weeks later we are at least being told the date and the approximate delivery time #yeah. Besides that, it’s still the wild west scenario that can hit you hard anytime and in no planned way between 6 AM and 10 PM. Do you dare have a shower, remove zinc cream from your child’s room, homeschool, cook, wash, bake, entertain the toddler, have a meltdown or sometimes all at the same time? Your phone will suddenly just blow up with calls from delivery agents and security guards asking, no, shouting at you to collect your perishable goods now – noooooooooooooow madam – NOOOOOOW. Hell has no fury like an Indian delivery agent waiting too long for you. So yes we had:
the “no bra” runs
the “no shoe” runs
the “Rotweilchihuahua escaping and trying to nibble on some innocent jogger” runs
the “shot I left the pasta on the oven” runs
the “ffs there is Karen do I really need this cheese more than I would love to not have to talk to her” runs
the “I came as fast as I could but the lovely delivery person left already” runs
and last but not least and most iconic “just returned from a previous run, unmasked, washed hands, sat down to finally eat my now cold lunch and there is the next call asking you to come now – noooooooowwww madam – NOOOOOOOOOW to the gate” runs
EAT THAT SPAGHETTI TO FORGETTI YOUR REGRETTI – WE MADE IT TO LUNCHTIME
Since thanks to the delivery runs and various other tasks there is no way I would have made a nice and warm lunch, I decided to make it easy for myself and put pasta permanently on the lunch menu- #motheroftheyear.
Okuurrrr. In other words, I can’t be bothered to channel my inner Jamie Oliver (bruh I bought your books so better be quiet). I promise, there is going to be that one day I will make use of all those fabulous recipes to upgrade our meal plan. Until then lunch is going to be simple and easy to prepare carbs #inpizzawecrust #lowstandards.
On the bright side ,with everyone ravaging through all the cabinets, the pantry finally gets decently cleared out #whoopwhoop without me having to lift a finger #extrabonus. Who knew that 2-year-old kale chips or some stale bread would be considered as edible when alternatively one could eat pasta with ketchup for the 45th time since lockdown started #foodporn #foodie. The good stuff I am naturally hiding with the cleaning materials.
PS: Nutrition Labels should totally include “What if I ate the whole damn thing?” I uhm just going to leave that here….
FACING REALITY – EARLY AFTERNOON (THE ONE PARAGRAPH WRITTEN ON A LESS HUMORISTIC NOTE)
Finally, with all other parts of the family working, homeschooling and napping it is time for another round of me time. In a perfect world I could now sit on my sofa, binge watch Netflix, gulp down a few cosmopolitans and enjoy life.
Lockdown in India made me realize fast that as a family we haven’t faced any real crisis or tragedy, no unemployment, plenty of clean water and food, strong (well #indianstrong) wifi, health… So a few friends and I sharpened our focus, gathered our energie and brought the #bangaloreMASKproject to life. Why? Because we could and because it was the right thing to do. Please let me ask you without any irony or sarcasm who we are as human beings if we ignore the suffering of others? In those hours of the day I felt alive, focused, in the right place, helping the needs of the hour. It held me together emotionally because it put things back in the right perspective and became a life-altering experience.
SOCIAL DISTANCING – THE AFTERNOON
In the afternoons we would take out the bouncing, jumping, never tired toddler – unleash the Rottweilchihuahua and drag out the bloodless, pale, complaining puberteen to show ourselves alive and undivorced to the neighbors. It’s a bit like in the movie Pleasantville. Everyone is floating around, waving hands, doing the same thing at the same time, every single afternoon #goodmorninggoodeveningandgoodnight.
The lockdown influenced our habits, the way we are now socializing and how we perceiving certain actions. Being quarantined became the world’s only undisputable, untouchable and unfuckwithable excuse to miss out on just any nerve wracking and expensive family gathering. “Sashay away!” or more directly and simple expressed “Get the fuck away from me!” is not longer rude but can be considered as a public service announcement #lol.
They say you can’t fix stupid but it turned out that you can’t quarantine it either. Some decided to deal with their stress and anxiety by unpacking their pitchforks and starting to name and shame their neighbors, rioting around about laughing and playing children etc.. #ffstheyare4and5yearsold. We on the other end had been incredibly lucky to be in a tight knit, friendly, booze loving little comuntiy with caring neighbors that made sure everyone is ok and to all set for Easter, family pizza night, bbq, getingt their vitamins in #hailtotheindianmango and their ice cream fix #notallheroeswearcapes. I love you all, you wonderful magical rainbow pooping unicorns. The little things and gestures meant and still mean the world. Glad we have been incarcerated with you (would do it again… nah that was a lie but I do feel we could go on a cruise with most of you not being tempted you know … make you force jump/ throw you from the cruise ship and make you swim home) #spendsometimewiththeonesyoulove
FROM DUSK TILL DAWN – THE EVENING AND THE NIGHT
After another ambition free and not very exciting family dinner we are all set and refreshed for the family bedtime aka putting the toddler to bed in the most sustainable way and method. Almost overwhelmed by all the magnificent choices on most evening we will end up binge watching some Netflix and won’t improve our people skills (meaning to call someone) or working another few hours. Indian Netflix. From How to Get Away with Murder #carolbaskinsedition to subtitled bollywood action thriller the entertainment options are endless and super shallow. Pääääännng and there it is ( and we knew it and we waited for it) … the highly anticipated fuckening .. one power cut after the other #inconvienenceregretted sends us after 30 very frustrating minutes either back to our desks or to do some ironing. Sadly, most days even those glamorous activities are being sabotaged by ongoing power cuts wich sometimes end up roasting your notebook or iron. So it’s an early to bed kind of evening, again! Snuggled up with a good book, another bottle of something and chocolate I assess how the day has been and what’s on for tomorrow…. I hear you Karen that this can’t be good at all for my weight and my liver, but on the bright side, I am not addicted to cocaine #healthychoices. My feeling of content and comfort will only last for a brief moment until husband enters the bedroom. Passive aggressive fighting trying to establish dominance over the AC remote is another highlight of our day. Who knew that debating in which climate zone we will start our night would be something I look forward to, as it isn’t lockdown related at all!
And that was my lockdown summary. Hang in there. Life right now is a shipwreck but we must not forget to sing (loudly and wrong) in the lifeboats so y’all keep singing with me xoxoxox Jana
By: Keturah G.
Type of expat: stay-at-home mom of 6-year-old twin girls
It has been 10 months since we relocated from Bangalore, India to Dallas, Texas.
What an adjustment it has already been…NOT including the COVID-19 craziness!
I went from working for my family’s NGO, proVISION ASIA with plenty of help at home to now being a stay-at-home mom with no domestic help! Currently, my husband is an Irrigation Technician and is deemed an “essential worker” so he has been working away from home, almost 12 hours a day, during the week.
One thing that has stayed constant in our lives over the last two and a half years, is homeschool. In early March when all schools shut down here in Texas, our daily homeschool routine was not affected. The big changes have been not being able to attend the homeschool co-op meetings on Wednesdays, cancellations of numerous field trips and of course no play dates at the awesome outdoor playgrounds and indoor play places here.
Texas has been under a shelter-in-place order so we need to stay home but can leave home for medical appointments, grocery runs, food pick up etc. Amazon has been running throughout the entire shutdown, with minor delays. Most grocery stores and big box retailers such as Walmart and Target all have curbside pick-up options and delivery as well, so our family has opted for these options during this global pandemic. If we have to go into a store or something similar, we keep a social distance and we wear masks.
Recently Texas has started to reopen in many ways: dine in restaurants, hair & nail salons, bars, government offices etc…too soon in my opinion since there are still many new cases and deaths here.
During this global pandemic, Zoom is my newfound best friend…it keeps my girls entertained with homeschool co-op meetings, Mary Poppins tea parties (provided by a local rec center) and various online classes (www.varsitytutors.com). But it also provides some fun for me in the form of happy hours with girlfriends (post 8pm)!
One trick we have come up with while being stuck at home is lots and lots of FORTS! We often need a “change of scenery” and one way to do that is building forts and other such structures around the house. The girls love building them and enjoy coming up with different shapes and sizes. We tear them down at the end of the day and they get to reimagine and construct a new one the next day.
Every morning from 10 AM – 12 PM we are homeschooling. As soon as it is finished, we have lunch and then we take a walk around our neighborhood or to the pond close by to feed the fish or the ducks. Following that, we have iPad time and TV time. Then it is time for play and then a bath, with dinner right after that. Most days go like that, but some days are lazier with more screen time and we love those kinda days too! This is what works for our family right now, in order to stay healthy and sane too!
Y’all be safe!