Life & Style

The Pandemic has redefined the days of the week

As we complete a year that stretched into the longest 365 days of monotone, do you remember how defined each day was before the pandemic altered the way we live and work?

In the first gloomy months of 2020, I encouraged my team mates working from home to stay on top of the psychological war with the virus. Which meant business as usual and dressing for office, even if one was working from the bedside table.

Then, one Monday in April, I found myself attending the virtual meeting in flipflops. And gradually all the days began to unravel... starting with Sunday!

The Pandemic has redefined the days of the week

Celebratory day

In 1947, Kishore Kumar teasingly sang to Rehana in the Hindi film Shehnai, “Meri jaan, meri jaan…Sunday ke Sunday aana… meri jaan, meri jaan… murgi ke ande khilaunga… (Oh beloved! Come every Sunday… I will feed you chicken eggs).”

And so for a long time, after Independence, Indians sang the song and ate chicken eggs on Sunday till biryani replaced it in the ‘90s. Sunday was a family day with everyone sitting around the dining table and sharing a meal together. It was always celebratory.

During the pandemic, with no schools or offices to go to and shopping reaching your doorstep, everybody was under the same roof for 24 hours. The excuse: ‘We don’t get quality time with each other’, was no longer valid. Nor did the made-with-much-fanfare Sunday biryani or ande (eggs) lunch.

A cousin of mine, however, stuck to her Sunday routine of making biryanis, but was compelled to alter her weekday menus. “If it is Tuesday, it has to be baingan (brinjal), Wednesday was paneer (cottage cheese), Thursday was pasta… and so on and so forth. But with everyone at home and in the kitchen, there was something new and different daily. So we kept the Sunday biryani routine to keep us on track,” she said.

The Pandemic has redefined the days of the week

Last Sunday, a familiar pre-COVID blue brought on by the thought of a lazy Sunday coming to an end was a welcome feeling of a hopeful return to normalcy. With no sign of return of the lost manic Monday that we once hated and now yearn for, we can only hum the 1986 hit song of the American pop band The Bangles:

It’s just another manic Monday

I wish it was Sunday

‘Cause that’s my fun day

My I don’t have to run day.

It’s all the same

Talking about how workdays and weekends have merged, a friend in Mumbai recalled the first six months of 2020 as smelling of banana bread in the oven “day-in-and-day-out”. As the baking frenzy petered down by autumn, other fads took over. The virtual timetable became — yoga thrice-a-week, family meets in the evenings, chai pe charcha every Saturday, webinars on Sunday morning etc.

In Kerala where I live, Tuesdays are largely vegetarian days. I am not sure why people of different faiths observe this, but I guess it is mainly about staying healthy. The Tuesday outing was to a place of worship, and everyone dressed appropriately for the occasion.

The Pandemic has redefined the days of the week

Anjali, my friend, who would call every Wednesday in the late ‘80s to find out if I had been asked for a date, explained the theory behind it: “If you were asked for a date on Wednesday, it means you are the last girl on his list! And you should firmly say a NO.” Waiting for a date to materialise until Wednesday made the day singularly special.

But in the new normal, Wednesdays are as grey as the undecided rain cloud that could come down or stay put. In the 2000s, I remember Kerala State Lotteries had made Thursdays a big day because the ₹1 crore bumper lottery results were out. Today, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursdays are about passage of time.

“Fridays for fried eggs,” said another friend, when I asked her about her pre-COVID Fridays. Being the start of a weekend, Friday was a day to head out and hangout. Kochi-based DJ Savio gets spirited as he recalls spinning the turntables at Holiday Inn disco on Fridays. “The day was huge then, but no longer,” he rues.

Jumaah (Friday) is for prayers,” explained a friend, and that makes it distinctive among the days of the week. He added that the curse of COVID-19 had converted all days to be steeped in prayer. “Who can think of a celebration in such a time. It is only prayer that gives us strength to tide over this health crisis,” he said wryly.

In 1977, the disco classic Saturday Night Fever made Saturdays iconic. Generations after that celebrated Saturday night dancing till the wee hours of Sunday, masquerading and dressing as John Travolta. “Those were the days,” said a friend who loved to shake a leg every Saturday. House-bound and with nowhere to go, he has taken to reading on Saturdays.

This brings me back to my Sunday blues, which signalled a return to pre-COVID freedom. Looking at a glass half-full, I think I am going to prepare a big dekchi of biryani this Sunday in hope of a return to good times.

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Printable version | May 13, 2021 12:18:58 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/the-pandemic-has-redefined-the-days-of-the-week/article34288895.ece

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