The new year has turned. Omicron still looms. But Bangaloreans are looking back– and forward. We are asking ourselves and others about resolutions and Covid takeaways. What changed in our lives? What remained constant?
Silk List, an online mailing list, founded in Bengaluru had a discussion on this topic. As did many alumni reunions that I attended in person and virtually. I compiled the answers into categories and directives. Which one resonates with you?
Faith and hope restored: Whether it is being awestruck by the frontline workers who showed up day after exhausted day, or the numerous small acts of kindness that we witnessed from our neighbours, all of us felt a twinge of hope in our humanity. People gave to pet causes (migrant workers), charities (vaccine camps), and volunteered in our own way.
Personal care: This seems particularly universal. Freed of our commutes, lots of us developed self-care routines. We walked or ran every morning, restarted our yoga, pranayama and meditation practices, learned to cook at home, and got healthier in the process.
Family time: Since we were stuck at home, we planned dinner times with family. We had conversations about sexual orientation and silliness, politics and memes with our siblings, friends, nieces and kids. We learned new ways of being.
Cloud kitchens: Lots of restaurants became cloud kitchens. Lots of home cooks became caterers. Kappa Chakka Kandari, Go Native, Klaa Kitchen, all sent out comfort food to patrons all over Bengaluru.
Creative collaborations: Artists, dancers and musicians pivoted to the virtual world. They came up with collaborations and ways to reach their audiences. Shaale.com (the word means school in Kannada) set up master classes with musicians, mridangists and veena players. Now, music rasikas could learn kunarkol (chanting the beats of a drum) or the kanjira from the comfort of home. Many did.
Hobbies: We dived into things that we had been putting off. Bengaluru has a thriving group that chants the Gita, plays bridge, does ikebana, goes bird-watching every week, and does virtual music/antakshari.
Tackling big and deep projects that were put off: With time on hand, people faced their inertia and decided to tackle the big, deep and difficult projects that they had put off forever. Some set a goal of reading a physical book for an hour a day. Others took up embroidery and knitting. Others made time to visit old relatives who they cordially disliked out of compassion. Still others wrote the business plan, launched a start-up, quit a job, joined an NGO, trekked in Kashmir, or learned Kannada.
Enjoy small things: We don’t take life, living or breathing for granted any more. Thanks to enforced constraints, we took pleasure in small things: locally brewed Geist beer, Bengaluru Avarebele mix from Postcard, warm croissants from Zed the Baker coupled with Begum Victoria’s brie cheese, Araku or Kalmane coffee at home. We created terrace gardens and enjoyed a hot bowl of homemade bisi-bele-bhaath with a nice dollop of Nei Native A2 ghee on top.
Splurge: We took the acronyms YOLO (You Only Live Once) and Life is too short to eat/drink/enjoy bad stuff to heart. So we ordered rare orchids and tulips from the Flower Box or Ohana Fine Flowers. Since we couldn’t travel, we bought expensive Burgundy wines alongside local brands such as Grovers, KRSMA, Early Dark, and SDU. We finally bought that Sailor fountain pen from William Penn, and that Ganjam ruby earring. We splurged on things we cared about.
Home improvement: Lots of us painted our homes, bought that new teak wood chair from Vyom Studio or that cool antique trunk from Saanchi. We reupholstered our sofas with silk from Atmosphere and accessorised with playful toys from the Varnam Craft Collective.
Saved money: Of course we saved money. Where could we go? Well, some of us went to Karnataka’s many wildlife sanctuaries, ranging from Dandeli to BR Hills to Kabini to Nagarhole. But other than that, we couldn’t go to restaurants, pubs or restaurants so we learned, some for the first time, to plan and invest our money.
Hotels and marriages took on new avatars: Hotels offered staycations, private dining options and learned to pivot to become local rather than global. Marriages went small and virtual.
So what was my Covid takeaway? Mine was learning to follow my bliss, which was being out in nature, ideally in a forest or at least in the woodlands, accompanied by expert naturalists who taught me how to see that spotted owlet camouflaged in the raintree. I drank good wine, ate simple food, and took pleasure in hugging vaccinated friends and family. Touch, you see, is an underrated comfort.
(Disclosure: I have mentioned Bangalore-based brands in this piece. They deserve patronage. As is true with all my work for this column, I have not profited from any of these mentions. No comps, commissions or discounts.)
(Shoba Narayan is Bangalore-based award-winning author. She is also a freelance contributor who writes about art, food, fashion and travel for a number of publications)