Tuesday 21 April 2020

Food and eating in the time of Corona

Things that were considered normal in the routine are still normal but the observation to details has gone up a few notches given the availability of time and leisure. For example, remembering finer details in films and connecting them to our everyday life and living is a passable but noteworthy activity. The other day, I was watching a disturbing 2017 film titled, The Killing of a Sacred Deer which is available on Netflix. Without discussing the film, I would like to mention a small detail in which one of the characters mention how he always keeps the best part of his meal for the last. For example, he loves fries and whenever he orders burgers, he keeps the fries for the last because he wants to end his meal with his favourite item. This detail is quite insignificant when you consider the entire film but not quite not when someone in your life does the same. My husband is so - he loves eggs (in any form) and almost always saves the egg for the last ensuing me asking for it because I would have finished mine along with the meal. For me, the item that I like has to be part of every bite and hence when I finish eating, all the dishes are done - leaving a clean plate. My husband is the opposite. He saves his eggs, the meat dishes and other favourite items for the last and after eating everything else on the plate, slowly eats the egg or any other item, savouring the taste, much to my chagrin. Well, I can't ask for it without getting fed on a lecture of how I have already completed eating, I had my share and blah, blah, blah. The end result: He does not share! Ever! Perhaps on a rare occasion, he might share based on his whim or fancy but that occurrence is like the blue or pink moon. Well, let that be.

The sunny-side up that we often fight for

Now let us talk about Feni, our non-human companion. He adores food - any time, any food except vegetables. He starts salivating the moment he hears his vessel being handled in the kitchen making us wonder whether he imagines the food, which is still to be proved. Sometimes, he smells some food and stands next to us in the kitchen with hope writ large on his face. A hope that is ever present and is for the now. He may or not get that particular item but he never loses hope again making us wonder whether he knows what hope is - The truth is that we often view his actions and thoughts according to our human parameters and would like to do so even when we realise that what we think is just our own perception of things. During this time of lockdown, we are able to observe Feni and his antics alongside enjoying them. Earlier food was something that was served to Feni since it was the time for food but now it is the feeling that Feni would be waiting, he has smelt the food and let us treat him and nourish him is the thought.

Feni captured in a fancy manner in one of his moods (could be before or after eating)

All of us are trying our best to live during these times and engage in whatever fuels our time and mind. But then there are days when everything seems to be a never ending drag that drains the mind and body and at that time food and eating become routine.

Hope you are well and safe during these uncertain times.

Thursday 16 April 2020

The clash of the brain and brawn

The recent lockdown has all of us cooped up in the confines of our homes which is a bag of mixed emotions. For me particularly, the lockdown has brought house-work and a feverish craze to clean and sparkle the home, which isn't a bad thing, after all but it does have serious implications - I am unable to give myself to any intellectual or academic work. Reading, writing and attending to various activities of critical insights leading to a paper in a journal/book is practically impossible for me. But on the days when I set aside the housework-that-never-ends, I am able to focus on activities that require the brain and not brawn.

I have often wondered on the disparity of the brain and brawn. Many friends who are academics don't much indulge in house-work for it is time and energy consuming leaving no time for any other work. Here I am also tempted to think that I have always given more weight to work that involves the mind instead of physical work but the lockdown has brought to the surface ground realities - The house work cannot be ignored and I being I, cannot leave anything half done (The saying, Well begun is half done has always given rise to a conflict in me!). Cooking has become an elaborate affair and so has cleaning and shining the sundry stuff around me. I enjoy seeing the work of my hands and take pride in the sweat of my brow but I'm not quite content; I think of the academic work that could have been done in this time of lockdown. This is when existential angst smothers me and I start missing my helps. How I wish they would relieve me of this but I also know that I am a better worker than them - cooking tasty food and shining my vessels and clothes brighter. I am perpetually drenched in sweat and always on the run - vessels, clothes, hair everywhere (my nonhuman companion's) and of course, the plants and the cobwebs! Sigh.

Someone I know refers to housework as menial job which requires no much thought but mechanical rendering of the work and I think that person is right - Because when I tick off each finished task, I am glad that I don't have to be critical or analytical (perhaps analysis into how to remove that oil stain or how to reach a corner which my help has conveniently overlooked through for eight years!). And at the end of the day, I sometimes feel happy that there is no much thinking involved - at the same time missing the fact that I could have written couple of essays or short articles.

At the end of the day, the brain and the brawn keep me engaged and away from thoughts that arise from the dark labyrinth of the social media though I am yet to master the art of detachment from the same. But I do wish earnestly that I manage time to distribute to both the Bs - the brain and the brawn.

Friday 10 April 2020

Being home!

Home is the new downtown! The rooms are the places we visit when we need a little break now and then from the same rooms. The sound of a distant train catches my attention and I'm all ears - we haven't heard a train in the last few days. I try to gauge the train by the time only to realise that my kitchen tap has a leak and hence sounds like a passenger train. Small mercies! I let that tap be - I enjoy the sound of the train that is otherwise impossible to hear during these days.

My nonhuman companion, Feni, is a welcome entity in these quiet times. Taking care of him, understanding his language and entertaining him and us is another new routine which we enjoy and relish. I often wonder whether he understands that we are with him 24/7 - Is he happy? Is he stress-free without having to gaze at empty walls and chew furniture. He hardly bothers about the furniture or anything remotely chewable. I think he is indeed happy.

Sometimes thoughts rush in where angels fear to tread - but I allow them to run their course and pass. Sometimes I do give in to them and feel despondent but that is a normal behaviour, I reckon. I engage in sundry works around the house - It's nice to see clean and well lit spaces! I seem to cultivate new routines and re-routines. Actually there is no routine - I do what I ought to do and I do them mindfully.

My reading has been awful, though! I had imagined that I would read like there is no tomorrow only to realise that every tomorrow comes and quickly leaves without me reading. It's a phase, I concur and let that settle in.

I have been cooking delicious meals and enjoying eating them at our own pace. We don't have a clock at home; The mobile's time is our go-to which we ignore going to these days. Time is a forgotten entity unless the mobile is in our hands. It's wonderful to reverse roles. How long you have kept me in your clutches - now it is my turn! It's a moment of victory.

I hope you are doing well and keeping yourself amused by observing your queer antics!

Leaving you with a 1964 pop song that I have been listening to of late, written by Hatch Anthony Peter and performed by Petula Clark.


When you're alone and life is making you lonely
You can always go - downtown.
When you've got worries all the noise and the hurry
Seems to help I know downtown.
Just listen to the music of the traffic in the city
Linger on the sidewalk where the neon signs are pretty
How can you lose?
The lights are much brighter there
You can forget all your troubles, forget all your cares
So go downtown
Things will be great when you're downtown
No finer place for sure downtown
Everything's waiting for you.
Don't hang around and let your problems surround you
There are movie shows downtown.
Maybe you know some little places to go to
Where they never close downtown.
Just listen to the rhythm of a gentle bossa nova
You'll be dancing with 'em too before the night is over
Happy again.
The lights are much brighter there
You can forget all your troubles, forget all your cares
So go - downtown
Where all the lights are bright downtown
Waiting for you tonight downtown
You're gonna be alright now
And you may find somebody kind to help and understand you
Someone who is just like you and needs a gentle hand to
Guide them along.
So maybe I'll see you there
We can forget all our troubles, forget all our cares
So go downtown
Things will be great when you're downtown
Don't wait a minute more downtown
Everything is waiting for you


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