A lot has changed in the last 18 months and I’m sure none of us had lockdown or a pandemic on our travel vision boards! At the start of March 2020, I wasn’t worried, simply because I was unaware of just how the year would unfold. But as months started slipping by it became apparent to us just how serious things were and the implications it would have to our freedom of movement.
So how did we make lemonade from lemons? Being at home more gave me more time to prioritise both my physical and mental health. It made me a big wellness and self-love advocate, allowing me to give myself that li’l extra TLC. Over this past year, I’ve done the following things that helped keep me in my happy spectrum through lockdown:
Walks in nature
The pandemic forced us to interact with familiar surroundings in new ways. I was finally using the public green spaces around me and the link between nature and my wellbeing was very evident! Oh what a difference the 1 hour we were allowed to go out made. Simple joys! Places I didn’t know existed were now frequented. From Wetlands to The Sandpit on Horsell Common and Brookwood cemetery to RHS Wisley Garden, any opportunity to indulge in some forest bathing or “shinrin yoku” as the Japanese would call it.
While our living room became my office, our garden became my solace and saving grace. And when lockdown rules heightened my appreciation for plants and growing my own vegetables expanded. On some mornings I’d take meetings outside and evenings we’d potter around or light up the BBQ just for the two of us. I feel proud to have harvested various veggies through the year in my little veg patch. I’m happy to report that I’m no longer a novice at growing my produce from soil to plate. I’ve always dreamed of doing this when I lived in my tiny apartment in Bombay. I feel privileged that I can now, and lockdown truly allowed me to learn with trial and error.
From timeless classics to cult favourites we binge-watched it all. Of course, we missed our weekly ritual of going to the cinema, but the ability to watch what you want, when you want has changed our viewing habits drastically. But what else can you do when you spend 23 hours at home? We re-watched all the Ghibli, Lord of The Rings and Marvel Cinematic Universe films. And we also thoroughly enjoyed some new series like Loki, Watchmen, Umbrella Academy, His Dark Materials and WandaVision to name a few. We even cosplayed at home on account of ComicCon being cancelled. (Yes we’re nerds and we know and embrace it)
Home renovation & DIY
With all the money we saved on holidays we put into the house. Being at home all the time made us reconsider our living environment, so we converted one of the spare bedrooms into a study and the guest room into a gym. From laundry room glow-ups to a master bath and ensuite transformation, we did as much as we could ourselves. And only sought help on skills we didn’t possess like plumbing, electric and plastering. We had some fun with the decor and I learned so much about painting by doing my hallway, some furniture, a mural and even my kitchen floor. And when I ran out of things to improve, we tidied up, boarded the attic and Marie Kondo’ed anything that didn’t “Spark Joy” – Facebook Marketplace became my best friend.
Discovered more locally
With jet-setting on a constant ban and countries flying on and off red and amber lists, I couldn’t be bothered with booking any international holidays only for them to be cancelled or rescheduled several times (our friends mentioned some horror stories). So when able and if rules allowed, we kept our exploration to the UK. In return found some amazing places that I ended up valuing more. Memories made here were cherished not because it gave us little freedom from lockdown blues but because I have now developed a deeper appreciation for travel. Some of my favourite places were Folkestone, Botany Bay, Margate and East Wittering.
Experiments in lockdown baking and cooking
Food has always found a special place in our lives. Earlier it was by inviting people to dinner or eating out, but with none of that functioning as usual we started some culinary experiments to pass the time. Almost everyone I followed online had at some point taken to baking or cooking and then flaunting their culinary conquests. Dalgona coffees, Sourdough breads, Pizza from scratch, Raspberry bread, Dauphinoise Potatoes, Sausage Rolls, Squash Goulash, Keralan curry, Biryanis, Fish curry, Waffles and even homemade Hummus. We even celebrated a zero-waste Halloween pumpkin by making soup of the rinds and roasting the seeds with paprika.
Here is an activity that we managed to do both together, by ourselves and online with our extended families. The Nintendo Switch has never been used as much as it has over the last 18 months. Here are some of the games we played: Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3, Mario Kart and Zelda. I even used the following for exercising: Just Dance and Ring fit. We also now have a board games dedicated cabinet and indulged in Scrabble, Top Trumps, Lost Cities, Exploding Kittens.
Writing and reading
If you’re wondering what I was writing because this blog has been dormant, I have some big news. I wanted to pursue a different kind of writing for a while so I wrote a children’s book. It is called Bing and his Swing and I got it published. I wanted to do something I had never done before. Hence put all other writing on pause until this project was completed. I was fully funded on Kickstarter 7 days into the launch and the book featured a young Orangutan about to take his first swing.
As research, I read hundreds of children’s books to understand the simplicity and creating characters that kids will love. I have a few more stories in my back pocket and they will all be part of an eco-conscious living series that will inspire young wildlings to care for our planet. After the project was completed I read 2 books, one by my colleague Paulo Mangahas called How to stop an asteroid from killing your family and the other called Before the coffee gets cold. I enjoyed them both thoroughly.
Growing up I’ve always been so envious of good illustration and design, I feel like I missed my calling. If there ever was time to pursue and learn it, why not through the lockdown. One iPad and several Youtube tutorials later, I participated in my first Inktober. You can see some highlights here. I was pleasantly surprised about how much I enjoyed the process of drawing (with no clean up involved). It is so therapeutic and demands my full attention, which I find like a mindful meditation within itself. Other arts I dabbled with were Macrame and Pottery. Yet to figure out knitting and crocheting but perhaps for another decade.
I found TikTok during lockdown and boy was I addicted! It started with filters and dance challenges to keep myself entertained, and then evolved to the best of TikTok learning. My favourites section now include all the places I need to visit, and tutorials for:
Recipes I want to try,
Canva hacks for bloggers,
Procreate tips for illustrators,
Video editing for mobile phone users.
I have now cut down on the time spent on the app and limit it to 1 hour a day. Here’s everything I did to stay entertained during the pandemic.
Being told that you’re not allowed and choosing not to travel are two completely different things. The former is much more painful. But after going through multiple lockdowns and several periods of monotony, I’m very eager to resume life. I write this blog on the eve of a holiday about to happen. The long hiatus/forced hibernation is coming to an end and the anticipation of a trip has been worth the wait. So to all still waiting I say… The best is yet to come…but until it does, hang in there and stay safe.