BENGALURU : I lay awake in bed listening to the soft breathing of my son for the entire night. He left in the wee hours this morning to go back to his college in England. I joked all week to anyone who would listen, that after being locked down with me for over three months, he was ready to wear a hazmat suit, gloves, mask and literally asphyxiate himself with sanitisers on the first flight out just to get away from me! These days, when our world has turned upside down and many of us have woken to find ourselves in the Twilight Zone, resorting to humour has helped us preserve our sanity and has brought a sense of familiarity to this state of chaos.
I just want this state of uncertainty and anxiety to end! It may sound a bit immature, but believe me, this thought is at the back of everyone’s mind. I so envy that lady who broke the internet as she merrily banged two steel plates together, doing a frenzied jig, singing “corona go, corona go’’ at the top of her lungs. She had the courage to simplistically air her feelings, while the rest of us felt the same way but instead, laughed and sniggered at her outburst.
Humans continue to be conniving and hypocritical, fervently promising all the Gods to forgive our transgressions while we still try to cut down our forests, hurt our animals and destroy nature and generally behave like ‘Gods must be crazy’! They can’t see that all those plastic masks and gloves will end up in landfills, rivers and the sea and destroy the environment!
After the lockdown eased, we childishly believed we could slowly go back to our lives. A few of us bravely spoke about a ‘new-normal’ -- a catch phrase that sounded interesting but I doubt any of us knew how to get past the mask and visor phase. We desperately waited with bated breath, ever hopeful that by the time we finished our ‘clever talk’ some ‘big brother’ would come out with an injection, a vaccine, a tablet… something. After all we have battled these pesky illnesses before and emerged victorious. We are the human race, after all!
It’s a half year gone into oblivion already and terrified faces have now replaced the blase, pettiness has replaced the largesse, and sheer ingenuity and enterprise has replaced the incurious and indifferent!
I don’t know what it is that is so cathartic about making, displaying, serving and experimenting with food. I used to think that Indians and Asians were an agrarian race, so the serving and consumption of food had an underlying religious significance to it. But since the world locked down, the ingenuity of many of us looked up. Many of my friends have turned to cooking (most of them had corporate careers), and are now niche entrepreneurs.
My friend Sunaina Chauhan was a hospitality professional who took a sabbatical to spend time with her growing son. It came as a surprise to me that during the lockdown she turned to rolling out handmade pastas and making artisanal butter that have taken our friend community by storm. My young friend Aditya Fernandes has been experimenting with veganism for four years now and has devised his own handmade vegan mozzarella made with nuts, Himalayan pink salt and all things bright and beautiful. Saritha Hegde was an executive with a leading fashion brand and has always been a fabulous cook. Now she markets her own brand of indigenous Southeast Asian hot sauces.Each one of these exceptional people has turned a corner, just with sheer ingenuity, grit and passion. Isn’t that all we need?