Epiphoney Columns

Mastering lockdowns

Last year, when the lockdown was announced, we all felt that emotion of being trapped. Outside of a timeout for being an unruly kid, nobody had ever asked us to be confined to a single space for an extended period. Sure, there are other confinements, such as cubicle corporate life (but at least you get paid there) and long-haul flights in economy. Thankfully, I have no idea how mortals eke that one out.

So we banged plates, lit lamps, made Dalgona coffee and sourdough dosas, all in a bid to release the resulting stress. I don’t know if it really helped anyone; it certainly flooded my timeline with a lot of cheap imitation patriotism and ugly-looking edibles.

This year, however, when the lockdown was imposed in phases, last year’s episode almost served like a vaccine and, in spite of how this time around it is much grimmer, we are handling it many shades better. Even the Americans didn’t go hogging toilet paper the second time around, so clearly it was us humans as a species which was evolving.

Here are a few things we now take for granted that last year were a chore.

Cleaning the house: Today we attack house cleaning like trained marines on a mission — which areas to attack first, how long to spend where. In fact, we even juggle other activities on the side. We have truly become home cleaning ninjas and Urban Clap or similar services can hire us should they run short on staff.

Home plants: Last year I killed sourdough starters and hardy plants that had genetically strengthened themselves over millennia to withstand a holocaust. This year, many people are nurturing delicate and rare plants that blossom maybe once a decade, all this in their store rooms or make-shift ghar-ka-mandir-cum-orangeries. Not me, this is one skill that evades me but still. The money plants seem happy.

Ordering online: Someone once said something about moving Earth if given the right space and a long enough pole. Well, today we can proudly state, give us a truck large enough and we’ll home deliver a swimming pool this weekend! Merely a reflection of just how comfortable we have become with committing to something without ever having seen/tried it but, hey, in the land of arranged marriages this should have always come easy.

Showers: This time 2020, I was still a slave to routine. Brush twice a day, shower (at least) once, meal timings, and all that. Then it showed us how time has been a human construct all along — or rather the endless nights I found myself up at 3 am eating cheese puffs and butterscotch ice cream with peanut butter while binging a show showed me that. This year I feel more liberated as everything stands relegated in importance to more relevant things, like my feelings. And no, I don’t mean Insta-feelings which get made into a reel. I am talking about the kind that nature imbued us with. Well, I have shed the notions of daily scrubs and change of clothing, and donned instead this feeling of oneness with nature. I am finally the king of my jungle. Well, it certainly smells and looks like one.

Food: As if we ever needed an excuse to order in. But two things have made this more commonplace — major improvements in the quality of food and packaging, and the fact that the idea of ordering in (directly from them) to help restaurants survive is a real one. Never before has ordering a decadent pizza or burger ever amounted to charity. Now, it does. So, as the Priest told that kid in that weird Shyamalan movie where aliens mastered interstellar travel but couldn’t grapple with doors or a splash of water, “Swing away!”

This column is for anyone who gives an existential toss.

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Printable version | Jun 20, 2021 3:36:49 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/columns/mastering-lockdowns/article34555110.ece

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