My #LockDownPersonas!

And like several, I’m sure , I suffered through dramatic mood shifts during the lockdown. From taking the moment in and just trying to understand the enormity of the situation, to missing freedoms that I never even knew I needed so much.

And even as the world around us seemed falling apart and staying at home seemed most important- it did seem like we are all stuck in our own version of the ‘Big Brother/ Big Boss’ household. The characters we are stuck with , seem equally interesting/ annoying and we’re all seeing sides come out that hadn’t for a while. My OCD is on overdrive and the nerdy me that I left behind years ago, seems to be out and about again!

And that’s when I realised – we all have our new #LockDownPersonas ! There are the #MiniMasterChefs that have cropped up- showing and sharing ridiculously delectable recipes and photographs making you wonder a) where they get all this incredible produce when you’ve run out of lemon and b) who’s cleaning the kitchen after!?

There are the #OCDMonicaGellers who like me are learning a new skill, doing exams for no reason at all and need everything put in a particular place and in a particular way! They drive themselves and all those around them mad… don’t believe me – ask the husband!

There are the #Vacationers for whom this is a time to bond with their spouses, share their kids with their spouses, take afternoon naps and wake up late! These are usually the ones who have help or staff at home and they’re in no stress or need to go back to the real world cos this one is sooooo much better!

Then there are the #Scaredys who worry about every forward and tremble at the slightest change that happens around them. They haven’t moved and have no plans to- ever!

And there are the #Saviours- self proclaimed– who head WhatsApp groups and proudly claim to be know-it-alls. They enjoy their God like complex and ask for nothing but non-stop praise and gratitude.

The only difference between us and BB is that there you have no/ little contact with the outside world- here we have fake WhatsApp forwards, newscasters ready to scare every one just to gain higher ratings and of course the neighbourhood watch dogs and society heads who are enjoying their status upgrade because of the sudden rush of fear. They now are relishing the power and are happy to give you all the gossip, ‘magic cures’ and even create new rules, laws and tenets that you must obey! They are the #KimJongUns of the neighbourhood who credit themselves by being the final voice. No one around them has a brain or ounce of smarts. They are the rule makers, the deciders in their mini kingdom and all must obey!

And that’s where the problems crop up because unlike in Big Boss , you can’t really get out!

We’re all meeting our new personas and the new personas of those we call neighbours. And though we’re learning so much about ourselves, I know that I’ll be making friends with a few of my new personas… and leaving a few people who became #Saviours and #KimJongUns far far far behind!

P.s. (Palat says)-: It’s going to be a new world out there. We’re going to have to start appreciating cleanliness and personal space. We’re going to start having to value people and relationships. We’re going to have to start respecting freedom and nature. We’re going to have to change. We’re going to have to be better.

I’ve shared my #LockDownPersonas… what’re yours!?

lockdown stencil print on the grunge white brick wall

Candles in the Dark

And since we had an address by the Prime Minister at 9 am, I rushed through the cleaning and re-decided my house-work plan to make sure I’d be cleaning in front of the television just to ensure that I heard the speech. And then it started and he congratulated us and thanked us for supporting the #SocialDistancing which now was followed as a necessity rather than habit and cited how we were leading the way for the world and people were citing India as an example and honestly, I felt more than a bit proud. It’s hard for 130 crore people to stay in a location, forget stay at home and even though there were issues, by and large, this was being obeyed!

And so I stayed on, there were rumours that the un-lockdown would happen in a systematic manner and I wanted to hear the plan. Also running a small business in this economy is hard and I was hoping I’d hear a plan that would give me hope.

But then we were given a plan of switching off lights on Sunday the 5th at 9 p.m. for 9 minutes and we were asked to hold candles, torches, diyas or mobile phone lights at our balcony- and that’s when I got up and re-started my work.

I am not criticising the plan because I lack solidarity with my government or my people. I’m not even criticising the plan because I don’t have candles-I do.

I won’t be lighting candles on Sunday at 9 p.m. because, I will be asleep.

With the lockdown I start my day at 5 am, and then walk 7 km with 2 bags of food to be feed 14-20 strays who currently are starving because the shops that used to feed them scraps are shut and the walkers in the parks have also been stuck at home. Hence the dogs have been fighting each other for scraps, getting injured and hurt in the process and are famished. And every day if I can do one good thing it’s this. After the walk, there’s cleaning, swabbing and disinfecting my house, then cooking for the family. And then after that we get on to a work call with the team, to keep them and myself positive and see how we can ensure that business does not suffer.

So no, I won’t be able to stay up on Sunday because to make a difference to the world, I’d rather feed those that can’t. I’d rather get on that work call and keep my business afloat, because I’m not hearing any plans from the government on how we’re going to revive the economy or how they’re going to ensure that people stay employed.

Sunday will make brilliant front page copy, beautiful Instagram images and even spectacular city images. It won’t however help us back on our feet. It won’t make my Monday less terrifying and I know there will be a few idiots who’ll ditch the candles for crackers; so I hope they don’t hurt my poor defenceless animals more than they are already suffering.

P.s.(Palat says)-: In a time of fear, we need to be told we’ll be back and stronger than ever… even if that’s always not believed. I need that plan. I’ll stay up for that!That’ll give me hope. That’ll be my candle in the dark!

Lockdown Life

And so the lockdown intensified… if that’s even a thing and basic veggies, deliveries , medicine too were halted despite assurances that they would not be stopped! The freedoms that we took for granted are now luxuries that can scarce be afforded, even if available!

And honestly it’s scary. It’s wonderful to have announcements and notices printed about how stocks are plentiful but scary when you go into a store and can’t get milk, tomatoes or bread! Worse still I’m out of lenses and medication. For food, we’ll improvise and the husband will pretend to enjoy ingredients being mixed together with tons of chillies… but without the meds my immunity will go further down and my blood pressure even higher (I have high blood pressure- surprise surprise!)!

And that’s my #CoronaUpdate!

But here’s the serious worry. As a small business owner, it becomes hard to understand how to fund a future for employees, my company and my family in times like these. And don’t get me wrong- I know it’s privileged to be able to run a company and have a family and employees but with taxes not reducing or being waived, rents not being pushed/ being waived and no foreseeable plan of any relief, it is going to be a very different world post the virus.

Companies, even the biggest and best are going to have to make employee cutbacks and that will affect thousands. With the economy crashing, it’s a matter of time for businesses to make hard choices and harder decisions. It would help if we got some relief on taxes…to allow us to stay afloat- less productive , but afloat. Ours has always been a country of entrepreneurs and small business owners and we need to protect that.

This attack will come and go but crores of futures will change… It is important that everyone gets a fighting chance to bounce back. That way the virus can take away our freedom for a while but not our livelihood forever.

P.s. (Palat says)-: It’s a time to stand united and strong and positive. So here’s a shout out to the Skype creators and Zoom creators… You allow me to still stay connected and see my niece smile and dance.. and that is precious!

I’m not ok- Isolation vs. Loneliness

So the isolation seemed a welcome idea for me … don’t have to deal with Toby, our annoying and extremely confused office help who seems to always get everything wrong! I would also avoid the commute to office with the one-ways and the honking. I’d even avoid the school rush in the morning while navigating my walk with Magic.

And don’t get me wrong, it started just fine. We were exhausted after the ordeal of getting back home, and lacking sleep and energy and cuddling up with the puppy wasn’t hard at all. Maybe I’d even get to watch the Love Island episodes I’d stored up or catch up on a bit of online classes that I’d signed up for.

But then without notice the emptiness and loneliness hit me like a ton of bricks. Sure #SocialDistancing seemed like the only option, but the lack of contact, the silence, the sheer loneliness started catching up. And with that fear. It didn’t help that the news only sold more fear and social networks were crammed with conspiracy theories. And all of a sudden in a world of billions, we understood that we were a drop in the ocean and that too barely!

Then you heard about dolphins returning to the Venice canals and watched the sky (even above Mumbai) become clear again. And it was even more sad to think that it took a pandemic and isolation from the human race for the world to try and repair itself. If we hadn’t been so darn awful would we have to stay isolated and away from the world to let the world heal?

As this virus passes, I vow to do better, to pollute less and harm less. I vow to take better care of those around me and worry about the spread of infection, instead of citing this as normal. If nothing else I think we’ll all become a bit cleaner and safer and that’s a win right!

I’m also starting my #HowAreYou … a tool where I’m planning to touch base with employees, friends and even random strangers so we can get together to share, chat or even play a game… I’m starting this on Skype first and then hopefully Insta next! I’ll make a few friends and maybe #SocialDistancing does not have to be so isolating then… There are more of us out there feeling alone.

P.s.-: Don’t hoard. Keep in mind others. The Universe has taught us a tough lesson and if we make it out of this… don’t lets line up for #Lesson2

Travel and Misinformation in the Time of Corona

It was that time of year again for the annual offsite and information about the corona virus was now coming to India. It was lucky though that our trip for the Offsite was to SriLanka where no one had the virus yet and who was widely circulating a video talking about how safe Sri Lanka was at this time and how the one Chinese tourist who’d had the virus had been successfully cured. They showed off their beaches, they were welcoming visitors and they were super positive about the fact that you were safe here and welcomed here. We also then decided that continuing the trip and celebrating our anniversary and #ParentTrap (where we kidnap our respective parents and take them on a holiday to an undisclosed location) would be just fine.

The offsite went without a hitch. Of course there were the hundred new forwards and even a few now ridiculous videos, ‘Go Karuna…’ being one of the most stupid things I’d seen in a long time. But nothing so stressful given to us by either country in terms of information. And then suddenly overnight, post a Trump address, India too turned into full panic mode. However we were in a resort with almost no world news coverage and even less India coverage and suddenly overnight our borders were shut.

We were given this information over a one line email at 7p.m. on the 16th of March (our anniversary) from SriLankan air saying- “Flight UL143 is canceled.” No plans as to when we might get to leave, or even if this was an option. In a flight (more fright) option, we looked online to desperately search for a flight while simultaneously calling the airline, which offered just a series of unanswered calls! The first flight out was Air India at 2 am on the 17th. The resort was 5.5 hrs away, but that couldn’t deter us. I booked our flights, albeit at a higher rate and we rushed to the airport.

Hundreds of scared, stranded tourists surrounded us in the airport. Sri Lanka, this haven of calm in the midst of this virus, was now blaring Buddhist chants on speakers and people were trying to leave to go home, any route, any way.

The resort had helped. The Guest relations executive had gone above and beyond to organise a car to get us to the airport even though this was last minute and the resort is far from the city. The GM of the Taj Colombo had confirmed that the Air India flight was taking off and had even told the ground staff to expect us , if we were slightly delayed as we were traveling across country. The humanity shown was exceptional. But unfortunately it didn’t allay fears.

At 2am we finally boarded even while watching masked medical doctors usher away a group of petrified tourists who had probably been cited on their infra red cameras for symptoms of the virus. The plane was silent. 35 people on a full jet.

We arrived at 4:30 am. And filled in the medical forms and were shown to doctors who asked questions, which were helpful as long as people stayed honest. I’m sure more than a few, because of fear, lied to avoid being quarantined, or tested, but we got out.

As we were leaving the Pranaam officer who had escorted my family and me, mentioned, that it was a good thing we got back to Mumbai. The city was disallowing flights from Sri Lanka, Turkey, UAE, Dubai, Europe and other destinations by the 17th i.e. the day we arrived. No tourists were allowed in. No Indians either.

Had we waited even for another flight in Sri Lanka we would possibly have been disallowed carriage to India.

How terrifying to think that there was a chance , we’d have no country to come home to and eventually no visa for the country we were in.

In a country of 1.4 billion odd people it’d be nice to be given this information clearly by governments, diplomats and whatsapps rather than fake forwards and non-sensical storage lists. I’d like to have been told that my home would be shut whether I needed to come back or not and be given some lead time to come back home.

Today when I see the hundreds of Indians stranded across the globe, my heart breaks. To be told you can’t go home and aren’t welcome in the country you are in is so, so very frightening.

We need humanity now. And we need our governments to help guide to keep our people safe. Not leave them where they are- stranded and with misinformation- but to get them home.

P.s. (Palat says)-: I. write this after the most hectic , frightening anniversary. trip ever. Back home, back with family- the only thing this trip has taught me is that there is far too much misinformation out there and unfortunately not enough correct, important information being given to us when we need. And it will be misinformation that eventually gets us, even earlier than a #$% virus!

Pain spirals and magic

And with the tensions of the week building, the Multiple sclerosis enjoyed its play ground of havoc! I had dizzy spells, pain everywhere and the added stress kept pushing me in to a deeper, deeper spiral of pain!

And suddenly I just stopped. I asked for a moment for my self and Aditya said he’d take over gladly and helped me delegate some of my responsibilities. And lo and behold, the world did not shatter. My life did not self destruct. I took a moment to breathe and was able to enjoy the week so much more.

Sure, the pain didn’t disappear and there were moments where I just wanted to curl up and howl- but in between , during the shoot there were also moments where I enjoyed myself and truly lived in the moment. I marvelled at the magic. I basked in the magnificence of what had been created. And I truly felt grateful.

That’s the thing, life is meant to challenge you and even sometimes overwhelm you but sometimes skipping a beat is not so awful. Putting yourself first even for a moment can actually help you. So even though you may be in charge of your whole world…maybe for a second if you let it run without you… it might actually even surprise you.

P.s.-: Still the control freak… though I’m trying to stop… truly!Multiple sclerosis shows me every day how I’m not really in control… and maybe that will help teach me better!

Give as good as you get

And the week started like one long Monday… but an amazing one at that… It was pitch week for something, closure week for something else and a shoot for a third all rolled into one!

But it’s when the pedal is to the metal that character truly shines out. Help and support came from some and others succumbed to their true colours which wasn’t exciting, but wasn’t terribly unexpected.

That’s the thing- pressure brings out to the open character traits that previously people can perhaps hide/ lie about. And that’s why I love pressure.

I’ve always believed that in life and in business you get what you pay for. Payment could mean physical cash or even time and focus spent on something. This is true for relationships and for work. and though I have always been the one who gives freely, I now believe in demanding compensation- both in relationships and work.

If you don’t believe you are worth it, no one else can. And honestly the world often beats you down to thinking that it’s doing you a favour. But now at the ripe ol’ age of (hahahah!) me, I’ve learnt that there are no favours and in most people’s lives you are unfortunately just a temporary visitor; I’ve realised I deserve to be given as good as I give. Else, I’ll always be the second option.

My mom always told me, everyone will hire you if you work for free! That applies to relationships as well. Give and give plenty but also enjoy the joys of friendships and relationships and bask in being adored.

P.s.-: I’m getting ready for a mad, mad week. Wish me love, luck and more than a few great new relationships!

Love is patient, Love is kind….(or messy and impatient and loud!)

And it’s my favouritest(yes, it could be a word), mushiest day of the year and I love it! I woke up delighted as I do every Valentines day and was showered with puppy kisses and orchids (my favourites) and the day started out just right!

But over the years, I have realised that love is not just about puppy kisses and orchids- much as I’d like it to be just about that… it’s different most of the time and different is good… just different.

Love is loud – it’s waking up in the middle of the night because I have started getting the MS hug just to help me turn while I yell in pain because I am both exhausted and filled with shooting pain!

Love is holding hands while doing different things… me watching TV, Aditya checking football scores- much to my annoyance cos most of the things I force him to watch are mushy shows!

Love is watching action and fantasy films… and not understanding the lack of plot , falling asleep during them and waking up at the end and listening calmly while Aditya drones on about plot points that were just truly nonsensical!

Love is messy fights, it’s weepy make ups, it’s arguing about the colour of a wall for 5 days and then choosing a different colour completely. Love is scary, especially when there are new trip ups MS (multiple sclerosis) gives us, it’s angry and it’s protective…

Love is also whiney (when the gym trainer doesn’t show up and Aditya’s in a cranky mood – cos he woke up too early ) . It’s also learning how to read a mood when you’re almost getting to that mood.

Love is finishing each others thoughts (not just sentences ); it’s knowing each others triggers (and how to effectively use them 🙂 ) and it’s knowing how to make something right… even when everything is wrong.

Love is saying ‘sorry’ a million times, or never apologising. It’s saying ‘I love you’ or not saying it at all… It’s totally personal, completely flawed and yet absolutely perfect.

In a world of hate; it’s important to love and important to be loved.

Happy Valentines Day!

P.s.(Palat says)-: To my forever… I promise you my forever.

An MS day + Routine = Adventure

And today is an MS (Multiple sclerosis) day and I’m a bundle of tears and pain. It doesn’t help that it’s Monday or that the Oscars are on… during MS days my emotions get crossed so happiness adds to more tears! But like all I have ever known, I must continue. Production meetings mustn’t wait, neither must a days’ schedule, no matter how mundane and ordinary.

And yet amidst all the complaints by body and brain seem to have, I feel safer with people and in a routine.

We all take routine for granted . We complain about routine and the boredom it causes. But there is a comfort of routine when everything else in your life seems to not want to listen to routine at all. When your body is at odds with you, there is comfort in routine and knowing that something moves to plan.

I remember years earlier when Cookie passed away, and I wanted to do nothing more than lie on a bed and howl; I had to turn up to the NCPA for a Festival that I had organised and teach a class and get on stage. The power of routine made me focus on letting my little girl go and forced me to continue to stay in the present.

And so sometimes routine gets a bad name. There is power in consistency and strength in the ability to keep at it, even when all you want is a warm cup o’ soup and a trillion pain killers!

… Apologies on the Friday blog… it’s been a long-ish few weeks and Friday was spent in between sleep and more sleep. I think the MS attack would’ve been worse had I not rested. Right now I’m desperate to go back to Friday, but know that warm soup and production meetings will benefit me in the long run! And either way today’ll be a day I won’t forget!

P.s. (Palat says)-: I’ll be back on Friday…it’ll just be an adventure till then… And what’s life if not with a few adventures!

The moments we make…

And in a blink of an eye we end January…and before we know it the year will be gone too. And so suddenly I realised I was exhausted! I mean mid-year madness , post monsoon and pre vacation exhausted. That’s when I realised that there was no point.

There’s no point in rushing through the year and not enjoying the moments. As much as I was having fun in life and work and at home; if I was too tired to actually fully absorb the moment, what was the point?

Life can’t be a series of races where you just move from point to point to point. There has to be moments in between where you enjoy the achievement, or the moment or just the view and replenish your energy… before you break down completely.

So in between an almost complete break down I stopped.

I went out for an evening with friends just for a few hours, just to laugh, just to enjoy the view. And lo and behold, the world didn’t stop, but my stress did. The evening though just a few hours was long for me and I was tired but I came back less exhausted than I had been in a while. And the next day I was able to write scripts and finish more than I usually could in 2/3 days… because well I was rebooted in a way!

I’m going to try and do that more…

I like the reboot! It’s my version of a personal upgrade!

Here’s to a ‘love’ly February… yes I am that soppy person!

P.s.(Palat says)-: In the end it’ll be the moments that matter and we get so much time in a day… don’t we owe ourselves at least a few moments?

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