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Life on pause 

The Covid-induced lockdown brought life to a sudden halt, but many found a way around to keep themselves occupied. Here’s a look at how some prominent people responded to the situation

Published: 05th April 2020 05:31 AM  |   Last Updated: 05th April 2020 05:31 AM   |  A+A-

Anju Bobby George with her son at her house in Bengaluru

By Express News Service

‘It is an athlete’s duty to guide people’

Spending the lockdown days with her family in Bengaluru, former international athlete Anju Bobby George feels sportspersons are natural ambassadors of health.“The priority of an athlete is always his or her health. And an athlete will be at the forefront of creating awareness among the public regarding the importance of health,” she said. Anju, who runs the Anju Bobby Sports Foundation in Bengaluru with husband Robert Bobby George, says the days are relaxed as there is no need to send kids to school or to travel.“I divide time between household chores and watching movies,” she said. Though their academy is closed, Robert is giving fitness classes online.

“Major championships won’t be happening this year. But it’s important that athletes maintain fitness doing workouts at home. I keep a time for workouts. After all, staying healthy and improving immunity is a way to get rid of the virus,” she said. “We had a video-conference with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday and he asked us take care of our health and make people aware on the importance of staying indoors. As an athlete, it’s my duty to guide the people,” she said. “Staying indoors now is like serving the country,” Anju said. 

Kitchen cues to community awareness in lockdown times

Fr Davis Chiramel engaged in community
kitchen activities during the lockdown

The state may have come to a standstill, but Fr Davis Chiramel is a busy man nowadays. From toiling in the community kitchen during the morning to making public announcements in the evenings, Kerala’s own ‘Kidney Priest’ has set up a routine that keeps him busy as a bee from dawn to dusk.From 6.30 am to noon, Fr Chiramel is totally engaged. After morning prayers at 6am, the priest spends time in his garden, watering plants and feeding birds. “There are around 150 vegetables in the garden patch, and I find watering these quite refreshing. 9 to 11am is reserved for chopping veggies and cooking meals at the community kitchen in Kadangode panchayat. Around 150 people are served food,” says Fr Chiramel.

Drumsticks, jackfruit, mangoes and other vegetables collected from the garden patch and from homes in the locality go into the cooking pot. After day-long kitchen activities, comes the time he awaits the most.   “It is quite a thrilling experience. All the residents are in their homes, as I travel with the announcement jeep and how they can make the most out of family time made available during the lockdown. It feels nice seeing people come out  to listen to me,” he says. 

Staying linked with family

Compared to the pre-lockdown days, professional footballer Ubaid C K, who plays for Kozhikode-based Gokulam Kerala FC as goalkeeper, now has more time on his hands which allows him to stay connected with family members. Though remaining in top condition physically is hardly a challenge to the 30-year-old, who has all along preferred indoor workout sessions, the exercise routine during the lockdown is different. “There is a small change in the workout routine, now I  exercise with my family everyday,” says Ubaid.  

The lockdown has brought in another change in Ubaid’s life.  “Now, I make chappatis, clean ceiling fans and mop the floor. This is something which I never did earlier,” he said. “Earlier, I never got to stay at home for such a long time. It will take sometime for the sports sector to recover,” he said.“The important thing now is to stay safe at home. As far as the fitness is concerned, I would say it is just a matter of  time and  hard work. If you are healthy you can regain your lost fitness anytime later,” he shared. 

Isolation from the masses a first for Oommen Chandy

For the first time in his political career, former Chief Minister and senior Congress leader Oommen Chandy is facing a vacuum. In power or not, this “accessible to all” politician has always been among a crowd of people. Now his city residence wears a deserted look.But the 76-year-old is far from being on a holiday. Sitting near a telephone in the living room, he is busy helping people with a wide range of requests. Some complain about the local PDS shop, others want the ex-CM to ensure their wards overseas are safe. He attends every call, takes notes, and follows up immediately with officers.

“Many Malayalis in other states called for help to get essentials and medicines. They were supported with the help of local party workers,” he said. Chandy is missing Puthuppally. He has not been to his constituency since arriving in the capital on March 8 to attend the Assembly session.“Everyday, I call up the panchayat presidents to review arrangements. It’s monotonous but I’m coping up with it. Telephone is a big help,” he said. 

V Madhusoodhanan Nair, poet and
literary critic

Time to catch up on reading books put on backburner

At his residence in the state capital here, poet V Madhusoodhanan Nair is constructively making the most of the 21-day lockdown. “ This is the time to finish reading books which were kept on hold for many years. I am also finishing my poetry works. But. reading is my top priority. Right now, I am reading MT’s ‘Pusthakathinte Poomukham’ and M P Veerendra Kumar’s ‘ Vivekanandan: Sanyasiyum Manushyanum. Actually I’m re-reading M P Veerendra Kumar’s book. It is a compelling one,” Nair said. 

On the lockdown, he said it is an opportinity for people to exercise self-discipline.  “Humans should take note of nature’s warning. Now, they should learn to protect nature and desist from polluting the environment. After the lockdown kicked in, the pollution level has come down and it is a good sign,” Nair said. According to him, “ The lockdown period is the best time to practise ‘Ammaruchi’  and ‘Jalaswathanthryam’.  Six years ago, I had told children to practise it. So this is the best time to try it out since nature is carrying out a cleansing of the environment,” Nair said.

Madhavan has books and movies for companions

Even before the country went into lockdown, author N S Madhavan was on a self-imposed life  of solitude. Having returned from a vacation in Vietnam in the third week of January, when the virus was playing out in China, he has been staying in his apartment at Panampilly Nagar over the past two months. Though Covid-19 had not reared its head in India, he said he did not want to take any chances.
With books and streaming platforms like Netflix for companions, Madhavan has been dividing his time between reading and watching movies.

“I have no idea how many books I have read in these two months,” he said.“My library was a cemetery of half-read books. I thought this is a good time to finish them, one by one. And then there were movies on streaming sites, award-winning movies like Parasite. I binge-watch, I binge-read.”

Currently, he is not writing any book. “Pause-button is pressed on the hurly-burly of everyday life. I’m sure some literary output will come in the future, out of such long hours of reflection and internal life,” he said.Counting the pluses in these bleak times, Madhavan said, “The Kochi sky is blue again and I can spot stars which hitherto have never been spotted. Yesterday, I was surprised to hear the chirping of birds, sounds I have been missing, living in the midst of a cluster of apartments.”

Shashi Tharoor, MP, with his sister Smita Tharoor and mother Lily Tharoor at his residence in New Delhi (Spl arrangement)

For Tharoor, days are just as hectic 
The days are just as busy as before, except for the absence of travel and person-to-person meetings. On the average day so far I have had to spend 8 to 10 hours on a huge amount of Covid-related work, esp relating to the constituency, to Keralites stranded abroad and wanting to come home, to dealing with people from elsewhere stuck in Kerala, to purchases of essential items under MP funds, to Covid-connected interventions for the constituency, to sharing suggestions with the government, to video conferences and interviews on the virus, and to simply reading up on the vast amounts on material that come each day on the subject.

That leaves about an hour and a half for exercise, about four hours a day spent writing columns and working on my next two books, and the rest with family, since my mother and sister (from London) are stuck with me during the lockdown. So alas, not only have I cleared no backlog, but I have added to it during this time!”Shashi Tharoor, MP, is spending the lockdown days at his residence at 97, Lodhi Estate in New Delhi. Tharoor was in the national capital to attend Parliament when the lockdown was announced

A mini break 
Actor Mammootty is spending the lockdown period at his new house near Elamkulam at Kadavanthra. The actor was taking a mini schedule-break from the film The Priest when the lockdown was announced. He and son Dulquer Salman are urging the public through social media to follow the Covid-19 instructions. 

Writer C Radhakrishnan
with his wife Vatsala

MT flipping pages of Michelle’s ‘Becoming’
Jnanpith winner M T Vasudevan Nair is engrossed in reading at ‘Sithara’,  his residence on Kottaram Road in Kozhikode. One of the books he is reading during the lockdown period is ‘Becoming’,  former US First Lady Michelle Obama’s memoir. The writer had not attended any literary or cultural programmes since March. “I remember the Cholera epidemic which had ravaged my native Kudalloor when I was just 12. But Covid has affected the entire world,” said MT. 

New home is where heart is
 “I am fully complying with the lockdown. My parents’ place is barely a km from where my husband and myself stay. Still, we don’t go out to their place now,” says actor Anu Sithara, confined to her home  in Wayanad. “Though I miss them, I feel it’s civic duty which should take precedence. We moved into a new home recently and it’s for the first time that we are confined here for such a long time.    ‘I’ve started spending more time in the kitchen and it’s a great experience,” she says.

Writer C Radhakrishnan is spending quality time with wife Vatsala at his residence in Chamravattom. The couple says such free time is a first in their 48 years together.“With low traffic and consequently less exhaust, noise and dust, birds and butterflies have returned with a vengeance. The sun rises real crimson and the cuckoo has the right tenor and a full throat. We are enjoying these days thoroughly. It would have been much more beautiful if there were no new Covid-19 cases,” Radhakrishnan says. 

He is also working on three books.
“A novel is nearing completion. Two are collections of short stories, one meant for adolescents and the other contains stories for everyone,” he says.The ‘Theekkadal Kadanhu Thirumadhuram’ author feels the lockdown has also taught people some valuable lessons. “It has taught us that we can live without festivals and drinking liquor. Also, religions and castes are unimportant and the Gods won’t be unhappy if one didn’t visit places of worship. Now, people can think of living like human beings,” Radhakrishnan 
says.

No break  Portrait of an artist

For Bose Krishnamachari, artist-curator, the lockdown period is turning out to be a blessing in disguise. “I continue to do my work, albeit, via video-conferencing, since we are into the work of the next edition of the biennale,” he said. “I get more time to spend with my kids,” he said. “I am a terrible cook. So, I don’t take risks. I keep the house neat besides taking care of my garden,” he said.

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